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Filing a complaint against a prosecutor

Marysville, WA |

Simply, how do I go about filing a complaint against a city prosecutor. I was involved in a "dispute" where charges against the other party were referred. After a couple of months, those charges never came to pass. This resulted in a negative action against myself by the other party that could have been avoided had the charges been carried through. I did contact the prosecutors office about this matter, but to no avail. Not sure where to turn at this point. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 2


It's not uncommon for a prosecutor to dismiss charges if she feels like she doesn't have the smoking gun evidence to get a conviction. There can be thousands of reasons why a prosecutor would dismiss charges, just one is the efficacy of the criminal defense lawyer.

Without knowing more about the character of what the vague "negative action" (e.g. writing a bad online review of your business on yelp; setting fire to your house; stabbing you etc.) it is impossible to give more guidance. If the person hurt you financially, then you should pursue civil litigation to recover money you lost from that person, the prosecutor has nothing to do with the matter. If the person hurt you physically then you likely had a police report filed which is being reviewed by the DA's office to prosecute the person under the new incident. Basically in any case, the prosecutor that dismissed the charges against the person is not the person to go after, the individual that harmed you is where you will recover financially, or at least be a witness in the criminal prosecution under the new offense that occurred.

Best of luck

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By law prosecutors have independent authority and discretion to determine which cases to prosecute. A prosecutor will not be held civilly liable for declining to prosecute. A prosecutor is not required to provide an explanation or justification of any decision declining to prosecute with any matter. These principles sometimes lead to shocking results, such as where a clear case of a major crime is not prosecuted because the offender is "assisting" in other criminal investigations, as just one example. But the victim cannot compel prosecution, even when the result is apparently unjust.

The same principles protect the prosecutor from administrative (disciplinary) or ethical complaints based on a failure to prosecute. Theoretically, if you had affirmative evidence of corruption as the basis for the prosecutor's decision not to prosecute, you could bring and maintain an administrative complaint before the professional licensing agency and the prosecutor would even be subject to criminal action. But absent that very rare and extremely high standard of evidence, the state bars and attorney regulatory agencies will not autopsy an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

When the prosecution declines to act, the victim's remedy is the civil court -- not against the prosecutor, against the perpetrator of the offense. If the statute of limitations has not yet run, consult a local civil litigator to determine whether your claim against the offender can be redressed by a civil action.

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