The Victim Wants The State To Drop The Charges Against A Boyfriend /Husband.
The goals of the prosecution and the wishes of the person that initiated the charges are sometimes at odds. The role of a Maryland prosecutor is to enforce the laws of this state, prosecute the alleged offenders, and to seek justice. As Attorney Eric T. Kirk will tell you.
The State of Maryland has no obligation to drop a case simply because the victim no longer wishes to continue with it.
Certainly, the concept of someone who is reluctant to testify, or initiates a claim and later changes their mind is not new in the law. Once a Maryland criminal case has been commenced, the inquiry in the case is whether or not a crime has been committed and what should be done about it with terms of punishment of the offender. In that analysis, the wishes, whims, desires or changing attitudes of the alleged victim are frankly not that important to the prosecution. Now, certainly at sentencing, after a conviction, there exists a right for the victim[s] of the crime to address the court. However, with respect to whether or not the case should go forward, a Maryland prosecutor is not going to base his or her decisions only what an alleged victim wants to do.
It is a commonly occurring scenario. A boyfriend and girlfriend, or domestic partners, or those who share a child in common, have a heated disagreement. The disagreement escalates to physicality. One, or sometimes both, of the participants call the police. Either the police initiate charges, or, one of the participants submits an application for a statement of charges. Charges are indeed brought, and the defendant is arrested and held without bail, or, the case proceeds to trial. The victim later changes their mind. They feel that they would rather have their partner with them to contribute financially, to assist with childcare or for other reasons. They then ask the State to drop the case that they initiated with their complaint of a crime being committed.
This request is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between the civil justice system in Maryland and the criminal justice system. In a civil case, an injured or aggrieved party files a lawsuit against the person alleged to have committed the wrong. The person that files that lawsuit is called a plaintiff. The plaintiff has complete control over the direction of their case. They decide when to bring the case, where and how to bring the case, often with the assistance of counsel. They can also decide when to dismiss the case. Indeed, a civil case can frequently be dismissed altogether once, and then later refiled against the same defendant. A criminal prosecution, on the other hand, is brought by the People of the State of Maryland through the office of the State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney has the discretion to bring a case, or not, or to dismiss a case, or not. In this sense, the State’s Attorney is the same as the plaintiff in the civil case. But make no mistake. A criminal prosecution is not the case of the victim, subservient to the wishes of that victim. It is the case of the people and the citizens of the State of Maryland. They act through their chosen representative, the State’s Attorney, who will enforce the laws of this state, prosecute the alleged offenders, and seek justice. They decide whether or not a case should be prosecuted.
FAQ: Can I Refuse To Testify Against My Husband Or Wife In A Maryland Assault And Battery Case?