Can the state press charges on someone regarding a stolen vehicle wreck, if the owner of the vehicle doesn’t want to press charges?

UPDATED: Aug 7, 2012

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Can the state press charges on someone regarding a stolen vehicle wreck, if the owner of the vehicle doesn’t want to press charges?

What about if the person who stole the car also got a WI? Basically my friend stole his parent’s car and got into a wreck with another car (no one was injured) and he needs to report the car stolen to the insurance company because parents did not give permission to take the car, but they want to find out if they report it stolen and drop the charges if there is any way that the state can press charges or if it is only the owner of vehicle. They don’t want their child in anymore trouble than he already is. Child is above 21 years of age.

Asked on August 7, 2012 under Accident Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the state can press charges even if the owners of the vehicle or any other victims of a crime do not want that  done. In a criminal case, the victims (e.g. the car owners) are not the party which bring the charges--the state is. The victims are "complaining witnesses." The state will often choose to respect the victims' preference, but is not required to do so, and can bring charges.

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