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Suppose that you are charged after allegedly stealing items from a business, but you later repay the merchant for the allegedly stolen goods. Or suppose that you are charged with domestic violence after a heated argument with your partner, but the two of you later work the matter out in counseling. 

Since the victims in these hypothetical situations no longer want to press charges, you may wonder, “Can a prosecutor drop charges?”

Prosecutors can and do decline to prosecute defendants for a variety of reasons. But getting charges dropped is more complex than it may seem at first. A prosecutor will consider several factors when deciding whether to take a case to trial, and the cooperation of the victim is just one of those.

Prosecutors Have Discretion in Criminal Cases

The law gives prosecutors nearly unchecked discretion to present, pursue, and dismiss criminal charges. The only constraints on this power are ethical limitations that prevent a prosecutor from filing or pursuing charges that are not supported by at least probable cause.

This discretion means that prosecutors can continue to pursue criminal charges against you even if the victim in your case wants the charges dropped. If the prosecutor has video surveillance footage that shows you stealing merchandise, for example, the prosecutor is permitted to disregard the shop owner’s desire to drop charges.

How to Get a Prosecutor to Drop Charges

Even though a prosecutor does not have to drop charges supported by evidence, they may do so if you or your lawyer can present a compelling argument. Some situations that may cause a prosecutor to decline to pursue charges include:

You and the Victim Reach an Agreement

One effective method to get charges dropped before court dates are scheduled is to show that you and the victim have amicably resolved the issue. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you on how best to present this information to the prosecuting attorney. 

You want the prosecutor to know that the victim has been made whole or is not interested in cooperating with them. At the same time, you don’t want it to seem that you have coerced or pressured the victim into settling.

You Assert All Defenses Available

Prosecutors are overworked and may decline to pursue charges when you are challenging various aspects of your arrest, the seizure of evidence, and the charges. 

Again, an experienced criminal defense attorney can review your case, advise you on available defenses, and raise these defenses on your behalf. If responding to these defenses diverts the prosecutor’s attention and resources away from more significant cases, this could encourage the prosecutor to drop your charges.

Your Attorney Highlights Your Good Character

Finally, a defense attorney working on your behalf can emphasize your lack of criminal history and detail the adverse consequences a prosecution could cause you. If the consequences are grossly disproportionate to the charges, the prosecutor may agree to dismiss the charges.

For example, suppose that you are accused of stealing a $5 item from a store. You claim that you simply forgot to pay for it and are willing to make full restitution. Moreover, a conviction for theft will cost you your job and cause severe financial consequences to your family. A prosecutor may choose not to pursue the charges in this case.

Take Criminal Charges Seriously and Get Help Quickly

The sooner you take action in your criminal case, the better the outcome you can expect. And one of the most effective steps you can take on your own behalf is to retain experienced criminal defense counsel in Spartanburg. 

Have you been wondering how to get charges dropped before your court date? Contact the Law Office of Mo Abusaft. We will analyze your case, determine the best way to resolve it, and work to have your charges dismissed if possible.