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Maryland Criminal Defense: What Happens if the Crime Victim Does Not Press Charges?

In this article, the skilled and experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Robert Castro discuss what might happen if a crime victim does not press charges or refuses to cooperate with the prosecution. Call us at (301) 705-5137 if you have been arrested or charged. We are available around the clock, 24/7.

As a practical matter, it is “good” for your criminal defense if a crime victim does not press charges because there may be no arrest or, if there is, the prosecution may have more trouble obtaining a conviction. But that does NOT mean that you will not be arrested or that the Maryland criminal prosecuting attorneys will not file charges and take the case to trial. Why? Because victims of crimes do not control whether the government prosecutes the criminal, and the victim’s cooperation is not always needed to prove the crime. The ability of prosecuting attorneys to obtain a conviction is one of the main criteria in deciding whether to arrest or prosecute.

Think about a crime with no specific “victim,” like being arrested for DUI/DWI in Charles County or other parts of Southern Maryland. Unless there is an accident, there is no “victim.” But DUI/DWI is still a crime in Maryland, and an arrest/conviction does not depend on the testimony of the victim.

This is also true in a slightly different situation where a person/victim calls the police and, then, when the police arrive, the victim does not want the police to make an arrest. That request might be taken into account by the arresting officers, but ultimately, the police officers decide whether a crime has been or was about to be committed. That is the standard for arrest, not the desires of the person who made the original call. This has become common in domestic violence situations. It is not uncommon for a person being abused by a spouse or family member to call the police, but then recant or change their mind when the police arrive. Police officers are now trained and instructed to make an independent evaluation before making an arrest and to not rely on whether the victim wants an arrest.

Take yet a different situation where the crime victim refuses to cooperate with the police and the prosecution. That situation is “good” in the sense that it will make a conviction less likely, but, again, it will not prevent an arrest or trial. Further, the prosecuting attorneys have methods of forcing a non-cooperative victim/witness to appear in court. Forcing a victim/witness to appear in court generally results in truthful testimony. As an aside, Maryland criminal defense attorneys have the same power to compel the appearance of a witness that might be “good” for the defense.

In any event, many criminal cases do not rely heavily on witness testimony. For example, sufficient forensic and DNA evidence can be enough for a conviction even if there are no witnesses if other things are proven, like motive and opportunity.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.