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Can somebody be charged with 4th degree assault if the victim does not press charges or there was no witness?

Spokane, WA |

The girlfriend feels it is an isolated incident that was being worked through, but a friend reported it, leading to an arrest and 4th degree assault charge. Girlfriend did not press charges.

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Attorney answers 3


The prosecutor is responsible for deciding whether to charge a crime; the person who is the complaining witness or alleged victim does not hold that power. The prosecutor has an independent purpose in trying to stop domestic violence in the community. It is not merely a private matter. Nonetheless, sometimes a prosecutor will charge a domestic violence misdemeanor with plans to educate the alleged victim about domestic violence. If someone else witnessed the incident, it is possible the prosecutor can prove the case without the complaining witness's testimony. You should obtain a lawyer as soon as possible to explore the details of your options.


I agree qith my colleague that the prosecutor has to consider many things and not just the desires of the victim. Many victims are placed under pressures by their attacker or by their community to "resolve" the matter without court involvement. There certainly comes a point where that cannot be the most objectively appropriate way to handle domestic violence matters.

I a not a Washington practitioner, but the question you ask is a universal one, so I wanted to weigh in. Best of luck with your case.


Only the prosecutor can decide whether or not to pursue the charges.

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