In Minnesota, the law does not allow the alleged victim to assault “drop” criminal charges. Once criminal charges are filed, only the state prosecutor has the right to dismiss them. If you’re asking can a victim get assault charges dismissed, the short answer is No.
This is true even when the alleged victim does not want to proceed with a criminal case. As knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, we know that the state considers the case in the hands of the state from that point, and there is nothing the victim can do to force the prosecutor’s hand.
That said, some assault arrests result from mistakes and misunderstandings. If you have been arrested for assault and your alleged victim does not want you to be prosecuted, an attorney could help you seek a dismissal. Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers of Gerald Miller to learn more.
How Assault Charges Work in Minneapolis and Minnesota
There are six different types of assault charges in Minnesota. At the lowest end is simple assault, a misdemeanor. The most serious assault charge is first-degree assault, a felony, which usually requires strong representation from a criminal defense attorney. While each of these charges are different, they all involve the intentional infliction or attempted infliction of injury, or of an act intended to cause fear of imminent injury or death.
Assault is a criminal charge. Unlike a civil lawsuit, the alleged victim is not the party that technically brings these charges. Instead, the right to proceed with a criminal prosecution rests with the state. For that reason, the alleged victim does not have the right to get assault charges dismissed — even if they do not want the prosecution to move forward.
While nothing stops an alleged victim from asking the prosecutor to dismiss an assault charge, the prosecutor is not obliged to listen. In fact, the state can require the witness to take part in the case even if you do not want to. A prosecutor has the power to subpoena an alleged victim to testify if they refuse to testify voluntarily.
That does not mean the prosecution will always force a victim to move forward with a criminal case. Often, the prosecution will listen to an alleged victim that does not want to participate. Pragmatic prosecutors also understand that without a cooperative victim, the odds of meeting their burden of proof are low. In many situations, the prosecution will agree to dismiss a case when the victim asks them to.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You in Minneapolis
If you are facing assault charges and your alleged victim does not want to participate, your Minnesota criminal defense attorney will play a big role in seeking the dismissal of those charges. Experienced legal counsel can work with the prosecution in an effort to dismiss these charges early on in the process. Your attorney can help in the following ways:
- Speak with the prosecutor. Asking the prosecutor to dismiss charges is usually not enough on its own. However, your attorney can inform the prosecutor that the alleged victim in your case does not want to participate. This could set the dismissal of your charges in motion.
- Obtain favorable testimony. If the state is on the fence about dismissing your case, your criminal defense lawyer could seek a written statement from the alleged victim clearing you of wrongdoing or asking that you not be prosecuted.
- Advocate for you. With an attorney, you can tell your story without the need to speak directly with the prosecution. Your criminal defense attorney can preview your defense in the hopes that the state sees their case will not be successful.
By speaking with a criminal defense lawyer, you dramatically increase the chances that the state will dismiss the assault charges against you.
How Can a Victim Get Assault Charges Dismissed in Minneapolis?
Building a strong defense strategy is an important part of securing a dismissal. Making the case for dismissal typically requires a defense strategy that is likely to prevail at trial. Otherwise, the state has little reason to agree to dismiss a case.
There are numerous possible defense strategies for assault cases. If you have been arrested for an assault, you could benefit from speaking with an attorney right away. The sooner you discuss your legal options with an attorney, the sooner they can get to work building a strong defense on your behalf. Some common defenses in assault cases include:
- Self-Defense. One of the strongest defense options for an assault charge is the claim of self-defense. You have the right to defend yourself from the risk of immediate harm, even if you engage in conduct that would otherwise constitute assault.
- Defense of Others. Much like self-defense, you also have the right to protect others from the risk of immediate harm. This is true whether you have a close relationship with that individual or not.
- Defense of Property. If your property faces the imminent risk of damage or destruction, you can also use force to prevent that. This use of force should be reasonable and proportionate. If you use more force than is necessary to protect your belongings, you could be found guilty of assault.
- Mistaken Identity. Many physical altercations occur during large, chaotic gatherings. Often, the police make mistakes with identifying the perpetrators. One strong defense could involve you showing that the police have brough charges against the wrong person. Remember, you do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone else committed assault. You only need to show that there is reasonable doubt that you are the real perpetrator.
- Lack of Evidence. Lack of evidence is another strong option for the defense. Police frequently make arrests for assault with little to no evidence of guilt. When this happens, the best strategy could involve simply highlighting this lack of evidence. In other words, the defendant could avoid pursuing an affirmative defense or making the case that someone else committed the assault. Instead, this defense relies on pointing to all of the evidence offered by the state and showing that it is not enough to secure a conviction—even if it is true.
Other Favorable Outcomes in Your Assault Charges Case
Despite the best effort of you and your attorney, it may not be possible to secure a dismissal of your criminal charges. Ultimately, the decision to move forward with your case is up to the prosecutor. In some cases, they might not be willing to drop your charges no matter how strong your defense might be.
That does not mean that other favorable outcomes are impossible. There are many ways to resolve an assault charge in a favorable way outside of a full dismissal. The attorneys of Gerald Miller could evaluate your case and advise you on what might be possible given the circumstances.
One strong option is to take the case to trial and fight for an acquittal. If you are found innocent at trial, you will entirely avoid the consequences that come with a criminal conviction. That means no jail time, no fines, and no collateral consequences. Of course, there are risks associated with taking a case to trial. If you are found guilty, the judge could hand down a sentence that is substantially worse than the plea offer that was made to you. Weighing the risks and rewards of taking your case to trial should be done with the help of an attorney.
Sometimes the evidence in an assault case is overwhelming. Even in situations where an acquittal seems unlikely, an attorney could help by reducing the potential consequences of a conviction. With the right attorney, you could see your charges reduced. In other cases, your attorney could help you avoid jail time entirely. A guilty plea could be a positive outcome for you if you avoid serious consequences.
Talk to an Assault Charges Lawyer at Gerald Miller Right Away
Are you want to know how can a victim get assault charges dismissed in Minneapolis? Hiring an attorney could make the difference between dismissed charges and an assault conviction. This is true even if the victim does not want to see you prosecuted. Your attorney can ensure that the prosecution knows the victim wants the charges dropped, and they can work to end your case without the need for a trial.
The criminal defense attorneys of Gerald Miller are experienced with defending assault cases in Minnesota. We have a long track record of seeing cases dismissed, but we are also never afraid to take a case to trial. Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers will work hard to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Call right away at (612) 440-4608 to schedule your free consultation.
Originally published November 2, 2020 and updated September 2, 2021.