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Victims Don’t Actually Press Charges

Tuesday / January 14, 2014

One of the many misconceptions people have about the criminal justice system is that somebody is actually pressing charges against the defendant when the alleged offense is a “victim” crime. The phrase “I want to press charges” is commonly thrown around on TV but that does not tell the whole story.


Criminal charges in the state of Arizona can be initiated by either police or prosecutors. When an individual is either a victim of a crime or is involved in what they believed to be criminal activity, police get notified and the ball starts rolling. Once police get notified and take an initial report, they then have the discretion to choose to pursue charges or not on a specific case. If the victim who originally notified police later decides not to cooperate with the case, that does not mean that the case will automatically go away. If police believe the criminal activity has occurred and prosecutors agree, the case will continue to go forward even without a cooperative victim. This is a common thing in domestic violence cases where the parties later reconcile and the victim does not want to see the individual charged with the crime get in trouble. Numerous times I have had clients whose significant other has attempted to go to the prosecutor and explained that they did not want to proceed on the case anymore only to find out that the prosecutor will not dismiss the case and intends on moving forward. While having an uncooperative victim creates some potential issues for a prosecutor to prove his or her case it does not make it impossible.


Victim crimes can cause complications to a case and make resolving a case more difficult. Therefore if you or someone that you know has been charged with a crime it is imperative that they speak with an attorney to ensure that their rights are protected. Please feel free to call me for your free initial consultation at 480-331-7568 or by visiting my website at

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