Can a victim of theft choose to drop charges in South Florida? Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Shares

Technically, no: the victim of a Theft Crime in Florida cannot just choose to drop charges


Our government essentially functions under an idea that we give up some of our rights in order for the government to protect us. 


This means that the victim of theft is not the person with charges against you, but rather the state of Florida has filed charges against you. 


So the short answer is that the district attorney’s or attorney general’s office in Florida has the power to drop the charges, since they are the ones who actually bring the charges. The victim can refuse to participate in the case and request that the theft charges be dropped, but the victim of the Florida theft crime doesn’t have the actual power to make those requests a reality. The victim’s wishes are certainly taken into account by the prosecutor, but the DA (or other) can still choose to proceed with the case and to not drop it. 


Why would the victim want to drop criminal theft charges that they chose to file in South Florida?

Even though the victim did originally choose to file a theft charge against someone, like any of us,  they could change their minds. 


One of the more common instances when it comes to a theft charge is that the item or belongings they reported stolen were returned to them, and they were satisfied with the outcome. Whether the items were returned or not, the victim could perhaps be afraid of the accused and decided to stop pursuing criminal charges against the person – especially if they are afraid of retaliation of some kind. 


Keep in mind if the victim continuously keeps changing the story, they could also face charges for falsifying a police report. 


Why would the prosecutor want to drop Florida Theft charges? Or what could convince them to drop the charges? 

Depending on the case, one of the biggest things that could get a Florida Prosecutor to stop pursuing a theft charge against someone would be if the victim or alleged victim decides they no longer want to press charges. The prosecutor does heavily consider the wishes of a victim. 


If new evidence, such as a witness, comes forward and completely refutes previous statements made in the case against the defendant, there is now reasonable doubt — this could cause a prosecutor to drop charges as a conflict in the evidence can have the power to completely undermine the case. Another scenario could be that the prosecutor decides to drop the case after key evidence needed to convict the alleged theft crime is ruled inadmissible by the court. 


If the victim decided to drop the Florida Theft charges, then why am I still being charged with a theft crime?

After the victim files the criminal theft complaint with local authorities, the law enforcement agency then gives the complaint to the prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor then focuses on the complaint and determines whether or not they should file the charges with the court. 

Typically, if the prosecutor decided to file charges, then it is very unlikely that they will choose to simply dismiss them. A victim rescinding their support might or might not sway the prosecutor to dismiss charges. The victim can sway a prosecutor, perhaps, but the victim of a theft crime has no actual power to drop the charges. 


If I’m facing a Theft Crime, should I ask the victim to drop the charges against me?

Short Answer: No. 

If the prosecutor has decided to pursue charges against you, it is important that you do not ask the victim to drop the charges. You could be seen as intimidating the victim, which will only make things worse for you.  


By reading this, you probably understand how the real power to dismiss the charges does not lie within the victim, but rather the prosecutor.


Even if your plea for the victim to reduce the charges comes from the best intentions, the State could potentially view this as witness intimidation, which could result in another criminal charge. 


What should you do if you’re facing a theft criminal charge in Florida?

The first thing you should do is contact your criminal defense attorney if you have not already. Do not pressure the victim, don’t speak to police officers about the case without an attorney,  and follow the advice of your lawyer. 


→ RELATED: I got a call from a Florida police officer wanting to talk about something, what do I do?

→ RELATED: Learn more about Theft Crimes in Florida

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