Often, crimes are committed in the heat of the moment. The victim and assailant may be close to one another. Perhaps the police have been hastily called out and the victim has changed their mind about wanting to proceed with criminal charges.
The consequences of criminal actions are often severe. This can often lead to a victim having a change of heart. However, is it up to the victim? Do they have any say in whether charges are pursued or dropped?
What does it mean to have your criminal charges dropped?
Charges can be dropped in two ways: Either “with prejudice” or “without prejudice”. Dropping charges with prejudice means that the state cannot bring the same charges against you again in the future. However, this does not mean that they cannot charge you with a similar offense that happened on a different occasion.
Dropping charges “without prejudice” means that the state can still bring the same charges against you at a later date. For example, the police may discover evidence that was not available before, which leads to a strengthened case against you. It is important to note that this is an extremely rare occurrence.
If charges are dropped against you, then they will not appear on a criminal record.
Who has the power to drop charges in New York?
Even if it is their wish, victims cannot drop charges against you. It is up to the state (via the police) to decide whether someone is arrested and charged with a crime. They may either arrest you or decide that not pressing charges is the best way to go.
If the authorities do decide to press charges, then it will be up to the prosecutor to deliberate on whether the case should be pursued or dropped. If you break the law in New York, then you are considered to have committed a crime against the state. A victim may be a key witness in the case, but they have no authority to drop any charges.
Familiarizing yourself with the law relating to criminal charges in New York is in your best interests. Knowing both your legal rights and obligations offers protection and may offer you’re the best possible outcome for your case.