How many times have we been watching a movie or television where we see somebody dramatically say, "I want to press charges on that man!" and right away the boys in blue handcuff that person and take him to jail? Well, in this video, my name is Colin McCallin with the law firm of Hebets and McCallin, and I am here to dispel the myth that one can, that a private citizen can, press charges against somebody else.
So, we hear this term all the time, "pressing charges," "I want to press charges on somebody," but in reality, that actually doesn't happen. The state, through the police or through a district attorney's office or a prosecutor, they are usually the only ones who have the authority of whether or not to charge somebody with a crime, and whether or not that case should get dismissed or prosecuted. It is not up to an individual to be able to say, "Well, yeah, I want that person to go to jail, so I want to make sure he's prosecuted, and by the way, if I don't want him prosecuted you guys should drop the charges." Once a person makes a police report, the horse has kind of left the barn as we say. What that means is, the police at that point, it's their decision and the district attorney's decision about whether or not to charge somebody. We see this often in domestic violence cases: sometimes there's a domestic violence allegation, a person gets arrested, and the named victim of that case, the defendant's partner, comes to court and says, "I don't want this to go forward, I want this case dropped, I never wanted this person prosecuted." The district attorney can listen to that and say, "Okay, well, we appreciate your feedback, but we're going to go ahead and disregard your wishes and go forward." So it's only up to the state and the police to decide whether or not charges are going to go forward.
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