If you're charged with a crime, you might be thinking about all the penalties and collateral consequences you might be facing if you're found guilty. For instance, you may be aware that a court can sentence you to prison or order you to pay a hefty fine. You might also recognize that a conviction will remain on your criminal record, limiting your eligibility for various opportunities and making it difficult to get a job.
Concerned with the impacts of a conviction on your life, you might be wondering whether you can avoid or minimize potential penalties by getting your charge dropped. This question is common in criminal cases, especially those involving domestic violence. While situations exist in which charges are dropped, obtaining such an outcome isn't just a matter of asking the victim to tell the court that they no longer wish to proceed with the case. The decision is the prosecutor's alone. Read on to learn why that is.
Breaking a State Law
If you're accused of a crime, you're alleged to have broken a state law. For instance, if a family or household member says you harmed or threatened to harm them, your actions violate O.R.C. § 2919.25.
Recognizing this is important because the victim didn't create the statute; the State did. Thus, your conduct goes against what the State has forbidden. Therefore, anything concerning this matter is essentially the State's business, and it's focused on ensuring all residents and visitors follow the rules to keep everyone safe.
The Prosecutor Works for the State
If you've broken the law, the State will seek to punish you to prevent any further conduct from occurring. You have a constitutional right to due process, which means you can't be penalized unless your case goes through the proper procedures. Basically, this means your matter goes to court.
Under O.R.C. § 309.08, a prosecuting attorney works on behalf of the State to prove a violation occurred and recommend penalties for such action.
If you notice, the prosecutor works for the State, not the victim. Although the prosecutor is concerned with protecting the victim, what they do with the case is a matter of preserving the State's interests, and the State's interests are to protect society. The prosecutor might consider the victim's desires, but they're unlikely to base their case on such alone.
When Criminal Charges Might Be Dropped
In some situations, the prosecutor might decide to drop charges. When they would choose to do so depends on several factors. Mainly, the decision has to do with whether there's enough evidence to pursue the case.
Some of the reasons a prosecutor might drop a criminal case include:
- Insufficient evidence
- Constitutional violations
- Procedural errors
What This Means for You
The way criminal cases are handled and whether charges are dropped has a couple of implications.
First, because a victim cannot drop the charges, what happens in your case is out of their hands. If you attempt to convince them to have the prosecutor drop your charges or not to testify, you could be accused of intimidating a victim or witness under O.R.C. § 2921.04.
Second, there are situations in which a prosecutor will drop charges, and that's usually when they know the evidence isn't strong enough. You can work with an attorney to review everything that happened in your case from the investigation through the arrest to demonstrate that nothing exists to substantiate a formal charge. However, this isn't to say that taking such action will result in dropped charges. Thus, it's imperative to speak with a lawyer about your case to determine your legal options.
If you've been charged with a crime in Dayton, our team at L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC is ready to protect your rights and defend you. Call us at (937) 685-7006 or contact us online today.