This article was updated: Oct. 19th, 2023

Generally speaking, the prosecution has the last word in the context of filling charges or requesting an indictment from a grand jury, but sometimes external pressure, such as from the public or political movements, can cause them to change their minds.

For the most part, a crime victim cannot press charges, demand a prosecutor to file charges if they are unwilling, or seek an indictment from the grand jury. The prosecutor has the last word when it comes to filing charges or requesting an indictment from the grand jury, as part of their prosecutorial discretion.

Read on to learn more about prosecutorial discretion and how it could potentially affect a court case you may be involved in. If you have been charged with a criminal act in Virginia, contact criminal defense attorney Scott C. Nolan, PLLC for hard working defense representation.

What Is Prosecutorial Discretion?

In the United States criminal justice system, the concept of prosecutorial discretion is widely known and always to be upheld. In a criminal investigatory proceedings, a prosecutor (An official government lawyer who initiates prosecution of criminal offenses, and presents the case for prosecution in a criminal proceeding) chooses which charge or charges they should file, or attempt to file, from a grand jury. The prosecutor also holds the power to proceed with or refrain from filing any charges at all, if that is what they so choose.

Why Might A Prosecutor Choose Not To Pursue Criminal Charges?

External pressure is often a reason why a prosecutor might decide not to pursue criminal charges. This often means, political pressure. Prosecutors are lawyers that are employed or contracted for work by local, state and federal governments. The purpose of their role is to prosecute suspected criminal offenders on behalf of the place they represent. Many prosecutors wish to go on to become elected officials, so they sometimes feel pressured to prosecute, or not prosecute, certain people suspected of certain crimes.

If the case is not strong, and there is little to no likelihood of success, prosecutors may also wish to not press charges. There have been many instances in which prosecutors have declined to press charges for a certain criminal case because they feel that the case is not likely to result in a conviction. Many people in the public tend to feel strongly about one outcome of a case, and many personal feelings will try to urge a prosecutor to move forward with a case, but without sufficient, legally admissible evidence, proceeding with charges would be pointless and unnecessary.

If there are limited resources, a prosecutor may not proceed as well. While it is true that prosecutors do have a duty to the communities that they represent, prosecutors have limited financial resources just like private businesses do. Criminal charges that are lower priority might not be pursued as aggressively if financial resources are limited. If there are budget, staffing, or timing restraints, it’s likely that a prosecutor will not move forward with a conviction.

Can A Victim Demand A Prosecutor Press Charges?

Private citizens do not have as much power as the prosecutor, and therefore have limited options for encouraging the prosecutor to act, thanks to the notion of prosecutorial discretion. Courts do not intervene, either, so just a victim will typically not be able to overturn a decision of not pursuing a case. It’s always best to contact a criminal defense attorney if you have specific questions about a criminal charge or conviction and need answers.

If you are in a situation where the victim of a crime is urging that the prosecutor should move forward with criminal conviction, contact The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC and schedule a free consultation. Any time you are involved with a criminal charge, or face the possibility of going to jail, you need to work with a lawyer who is diligent, hard working, and has enough knowledge of state and federal law to protect you.

Schedule A Free Consultation With The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC If You’ve Been Arrested In Virginia

It can be difficult to understand all the ins and outs of criminal proceedings, charges and convictions in Virginia. The best course of action to take if you have been arrested for any kind of criminal charge is to contact The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC as soon as you can. Not all Fairfax criminal defense lawyers offer a free consultation, but The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC does.

In your free consultation, you can expect that The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC will take the time to listen to your unique situation and understand precisely what happened the day you got arrested. He will work to create a strong plan for your defense, answer all of your questions, and stop at nothing to ensure your penalties are minimized as best as they possibly can.