Can you actually drop criminal charges once they have been filed?

We get asked fairly often: How can I drop the charges? It usually relates to someone who has been arrested for domestic abuse.  Our response: You can't.

Depending on the situation, this news can be good or bad. Or perhaps you've been there and it isn't news at all. The rule is that it's up to the prosecutor whether to file charges and prosecute.

When we get a call from someone looking to drop charges, we usually recommend a well-connected Chicago criminal defense attorney (meaning they know the prosecutor on the case, have a good reputation, and are going to be taken seriously). There's not really a process or procedure for this kind of thing, but an attorney may be able to work something out.

Don't try to derail the case on your own. If you've been subpoenaed to testify, you can't blow it off. You will be in trouble yourself if you don't show up.   We have seen countless cases over at the domestic abuse courthouse on Harrison St. where prosecutors have told witnesses that wouldn't cooperate that if they don't testify they will get charged with filing a false police report.   So they put you in a situation where you are damned if you do, damned if you don't.

There are countless reasons why someone would want to drop domestic abuse charges. For serious, legitimate cases, it's probably a good thing that a victim can't turn around and drop the charges if they get scared; and they can't be threatened into dropping charges by their abuser.

On the other hand, in some cases, it seems more efficient to allow an alleged victim to be able to drop charges, especially where a false claim was made. The way it works now, the case may have to go to trial in order for the truth to come out.

What do you think? Should victims and alleged victims of domestic abuse have more say in whether charges are filed and cases are prosecuted?



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