Once a person has been charged with a criminal offence, it is possible to have the charges dropped or discontinued in certain circumstances.
Charges are laid by either the WA Police or the State of Western Australia (“prosecution”). This generally occurs following a complaint by an alleged victim.
It is important to understand that criminal charges cannot be dropped by the victim(s). Whilst a victim can advise the prosecution they no longer wish to make a complaint or are unwilling to assist with the prosecution, only the prosecuting authorities can discontinue charges once they have been laid against a person.
Whilst the prosecution will consider the view of the victim when considering proceeding with charges, it is not the determining factor. There are many factors that the prosecution will consider in dropping charges, including whether it is in the public interest to do so and whether discontinuing charges would be consistent with public policy. Some of those consideration include:
- The age of the offence
- Lack of seriousness of the offence
- Your culpability
- Your age, physical health or mental health reasons
- Your cooperation with the investigation
- the view of the alleged victim
It is important to note that the prosecution rarely discontinue charges that relate to domestic violence. This is based on public policy.
How are charges dropped
Charges are ‘dropped’ when the prosecution make an application to the Court to have the charges discontinued. If the charges are summary, that is, they are dealt with in the Magistrates Court, an accused person may be entitled to costs when the charges are discontinued. The costs awarded to an accused person relate to their legal fees only.
It is handy to note that not all criminal charges lead to trial. An accused will sometimes enter a plea bargain for a reduction in sentencing.
The role of your lawyer
Criminal lawyers are experts in dealing with the prosecution regarding the discontinuance of charges. They will assess the case against an Accused, consider the relevant public policy considerations and make submissions on behalf of the charged person.
An experienced lawyer will be able to determine whether the case against an Accused is flawed or insufficient. An experienced lawyer will be skilful in drafting submissions to have your matter discontinued. They will be able to argue your position in a tactful and professional manner to increase the likelihood of getting a successful outcome.
What can be achieved will vary from case to case, depending on the situation itself, the court and the prosecutor. It is never black and white.
Getting in Touch with a Lawyer
If you find yourself facing criminal charges, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer for representation. The legal system is confusing and there are many lawyers with different levels of skills and experience.
So how do you know what lawyer to choose? We suggest you do some research. Conduct google reviews or searches of the lawyer you are considering. It may provide you with some valuable information about the quality of lawyer you are intending to engage.
At Legal Pathways, we are devoted to providing professional, intelligent and cost-effective legal services for every client regardless of their background or allegations. Dr Clint Hampson leads a team of experienced and skilful lawyers that can assist you by providing accurate and personalised legal advice.
Get peace of mind and book a consulation by calling us on (08) 6371 8810 or contacting us here.