felonious assault

UPDATED: Jun 3, 2009

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felonious assault

Is it legal to ask a complaintant to drop charges for compensation?

Asked on June 3, 2009 under Criminal Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

No, it's not. The things to remember are:

1) The civil system (where you sue for breach of contract, product liability, slip and fall, etc.) and the criminal system are wholly separate, and behavior that is permissible in one is not necessarily allowed in the other. So while it's perfectly ok to ask someone to settle their civil complaint, or law suit, against you out of court, you can not "settle" criminal charges with the complainant in the same way.

2) The underlying reason you can't settle a criminal complaint with the complainant is that the complainant is NOT the adversarial party in a criminal case: the state is. The state enforces the laws, and brings criminal actions to do so. The complainant is the victim and may be a witness, but has no control over the action.

3) Therefore, even if the complainant wants to drop charges, the prosecutor does not have to do so. For minor criminal actions--misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, or trespass--they may choose to honor the complainant's wishes, but very rarely for a felony--after all,  if felonies could be dropped at the complainant's choice, every felon would bribe and/or intimidate the complainant and get off scott free.

So, the complainant can't drop the charges him or herself anyway, and it's illegal to ask them to do so--you might end up with a charge of witness tampering as well. Don't do it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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