Why wasn’t the case against me thrown out if the alleged victim was a no-show?

On Almost a year ago, I was charged with a misdemeanor of injury to personal property. I had my court date today. Only myself was in court; the victim was a no show. Why didn’t my case thrown out? Instead I was given another court date.

Asked on June 5, 2017 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In a criminal matter, there is no legal requirement that a victim be present in court or even cooperate with the prosecution. If there is other strong evidence that the defendant committed the crime (via witness statements, DNA evidence, etc.) and that can support a conviction, the case can still move forward. In a criminal case, the state is the "opposing party" as it were, not the victim. Accordingly a no-show will not give rise to a dismissal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Because the law does not require dismissal when a witness is not present: instead, the court has the discretion, or right/power, to reschedule the case and compel the witness if necessary (such as by a subpoena) to appear. The victim is only a witness in a criminal (including misdemeanor) case: he or she is not the party suing you, but rather the government is prosecuting you. Since the victim is only a witness, not a party, his or her absence is not a default.

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