Can I drop charges

My boyfriend broke into my apartment and they
arrested him and he is sitting in jail. I know the guy
needs help. Is there a way I can ask for that instead
of jail? And if not do I have the right to drop the
charges? We are in Pennsylvania

Asked on January 11, 2018 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You do not have the right to drop the charges: you can ask the prosecutor to drop them, and/or to seek something more helpful to him (maybe counseling while on probation) rather than jail time, but that's all you can do: ask. In a civil case (a lawsuit; like suing someone for hitting your car, or not paying for something they bought from you or work you did for them), the victim is the plaintiff and is charge of the case: the victim can drop it at will. But in a criminal case, the victim is not the one bringing it--the government is (that's why criminal cases are captioned or titled "State vs."). The government prosecutes to enforce its laws; the victim is just a witness to the crime, often called the "complaining witness." The prosecutor may--and often does--choose to honor the victim's request in less serious crimes (e.g. ones not involving injury to a person), but is not obligated to do so; the prosecutor can continuethe case over your objections. 


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