Who files charges if a vehicle us stolen

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who files charges if a vehicle us stolen

My son stole a vehicle the owners do
not want to press charges. But can the
police still press charges?

Asked on August 3, 2016 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can. Unlike in a civil lawsuit, where the person who was injured or who is owed money is 100% in charge of the suit and can decide whether or not to bring it, in a criminal case, the victim is just the "complainant" or "complaining witness." The state (i.e. the authorities) is the entity which chooses whether or not to bring the case; they can press charges and prosecute other the victim's objections, because they are doing so not to seek compensation for the victim, but to vindicate and enforce the law. (This is why criminal cases are always "State vs."--the state is the party bringing the case.) The authorities can choose to respect the victim's wishes and not bring the case, but are not required to; they can elect to bring it no matter what the victim wants.

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