Can a Victim Drop Charges in PA?

Posted on January 27th, 2021

Whether you are a victim of domestic violence, assault, larceny, etc., there may come a point where you decide you wish to drop the charges made against your aggressor–but is that possible? In Pennsylvania, a victim cannot drop charges. Kalinoski Law Offices explains why.

Can a victim drop charges in domestic abuse cases? No.

When you called to report abuse, you likely picked up the phone and called the police, a shelter, or maybe even a support or advocacy group to get the help and support you needed. However, dropping charges for domestic abuse cases are not as simple as picking up the phone.

In Pennsylvania, once charges have been made against another, the district attorney then has the independent discretion to determine whether or not to bring forward those criminal charges. However, because the victim is the key witness who has the most moving testimony, you may think that means that the victim pulling a charge would be final. But it’s not.

Once the call has been made, it is no longer up to the victim to go forward with the charges as the state will decide whether to move forward or not.

How are domestic violence charges brought forward?

The reason why the victim of the crime cannot drop the charges is because of the legal process that ensues the moment he or she picks up the phone to report the incident. In following the example of domestic violence, the charge begins formally when a call is made to the police. In cases where the police find the situation on their own (like a public altercation), the terms are different. However, in most cases, the formal charges begin when the report is made to law enforcement, and police report to the scene to begin investigating.

Under Pennsylvania law, police can make an arrest at the scene of a domestic violence incident so long as evidence of the assault exists. In these cases, the victim has no deciding voice on if the arrest occurs or not.

Upon arrest, the case goes to the district attorney, who will decide whether or not to press charges. The district attorney may ask for input from the victim about their wishes, but it in no means gives the victim saying power.

If charges are dropped, the individual is released.

While many victims do not seek help from their abusers, the decision to do so may come as a challenge, and one they regret upon doing so. However, at Kalinoski Law Offices, we want victims of domestic abuse to know that from the moment they make the call, we will stand firmly by their side.

Advocacy and Support from an Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney: Kalinoski Law

When you’ve made the decision to bring a charge against your abuser, know that you are entitled to legal representation and protection.

Our Scranton domestic violence attorney is available to assist in obtaining a PFA order. To arrange a confidential, free initial consultation with a strong family law advocate, contact us online or call (570) 207-4000.

Category: Family Law

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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