Written by attorney Marc Gregory Snyder

The Victim, The State, The Court, and The Law - A Short Story

Once upon a time, a man named Harry had an argument with his wife, Sally. Even though they loved each other and were happy most of the time, their arguments would often get pretty heated and would sometimes entail one of them getting physical (and not the Olivia Newton-John kind, either).

Following their most recent fight, Sally dropped her cell phone and when she bent over to pick it up, Harry lightly pushed her so she would fall over. Harry did not think what he did was that bad, but Sally had other ideas. She became extremely upset, left the home that they shared, called the police, and reported that she had been assaulted by her husband.

The police arrived, questioned both of them, and noticed that Sally had a small red mark where her arm had come into contact with the wall after Harry had "moved her." Harry was arrested and charged with Assault, second degree, which in Maryland is a serious crime. Both Harry and Sally felt bad about what had happened, and neither got any sleep that night. In fact, Harry spent the entire night wtahcing pay-per-view movies in the local Red Roof Inn.

Several weeks later, the Court papers arrived, notifying Harry of his Court date and when and where to appear. Sally was contacted by the Prosecutor handling the case and asked to come in for an interview. By this pioint, Harry and Sally were together again, happy, and had pretty much put the incident behind them. When the Prosecutor called Sally the third time to speak to her about the case, Sally said, "Listen, I've decided to drop the charges."

Unforutnately, it is not up to the Victim or the Complainant to stop a prosecution from going forward. In fact, once a matter has been shown to have probable cause and a case is initiated, only the Prosecutor can drop the charges and cease the matter from moving ahead. Most people have an incorrect belief that the victim of a crime has the ability to stop a case from continuing.This is simply not true.

Once a crime has been reported and a case has been presented to the Prosecutor's office and probable cause is confirmed, the victim's only role is of a witness, and possibly a source of a victim impact statement, should the Defendant be convicted. In essence, the victim really has no more control over the case than any other party. In Maryland, criminal cases carry the caption of The State of Maryland v. John Doe. It is not, The Victim v. John Doe. And so, only the State of Maryland, represented by the State''s Attorneys Office (in Maryland) may decide tono longer pursue the matter.

The moral of this story is that the system takes crime very seriously and will not hesitate to initiate legal proceedings against the alleged Defendant. Furthermore, once a matter is begun, it is out of the hands of the victim. This has been a difficult lesson to those who use the system as a weapon against those they wish to temporarily harm. Legitimate abuse is a serious crime and should always be reported. Calling the police of someone simply to have them charged because you are angry is another story.

The bottom line is that once the genie is out of the bottle, it is very hard to get her back in.

Additional resources provided by the author

The Law Offices of Marc G. Snyder represents individuals facing criminal charges throughout the State of Maryland. Offering flexible payment plans and accepting major credit cards, we strive to provide the highest quality legal representation to all of our clients. Please call us at (410) 656-9LAW (9529) or visit us on the web at

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