Can the police pursue a disorderly conduct charge if they weren’t present at the alleged incident and the victim now wants the charges dropped?

can the police send you a summons to appear in court for disoderly conduct without having ever meet you or talked to you or interviewed you? They just have what the other party said and never got this other person’s side of the story. This person just received a summons to appear, and to top it off the person making the complaint wants to drop the charges.  But the police still want to proceed. Can they still do that?

Asked on July 28, 2010 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately yes, the police can still proceed.

1) The police do not need to hear the accused's side of the story before arresting him, and prosecutors don't need to hear it (or if they hear it, believe or listen to it) before charging him. The trial is when the accused has his say. That's not to say they may not often take the accused's story into account--just that there is no obligation for them to do so.

2) In a criminal case, the state is the actual prosecuting party, not the victim or complainant. The victim is, in essence, a witness--often called a "complaining witness." The state will often choose to honor the victim's request, but is not obligated to. They can bring a criminal action regardless of what the victim or  complainant wants.

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