Can A Person Still Be Convicted of Assault if The Victim Doesn’t Press Charges?

by | Oct 30, 2015 | Blog, Criminal Law, Know Your Rights

Assault Ocean CountyThe simple answer to this question is, yes.  Regardless of whether the victim cooperates with law enforcement, the officers that arrive at the scene of the alleged assault can make an arrest that will lead the State to pursue charges.  However, it all depends on the unique situation in which the alleged assault took place and the proof available to the responding officers.  Here are a couple of example situations:

Example Situation 1:

John and Adam get into an argument in their shared apartment and John punches Adam.  While the argument is taking place, neighbors call police to the scene.  When the police arrive John and Adam have already settled down and are able to calmly talk to the police.  The officers question both of them and ask Adam if he would like to press charges against John for assaulting him.  Adam says he does not want to press charges, without any hesitation.  The officers also talk to the neighbors who say that it was the first time they ever called the police for a situation like this and have never heard the two of them argue.

Likely Outcome (NOT Guaranteed):

The officers recognize that the situation stemmed from a minor disagreement and the two people involved were able to settle the situation on their own.  Adam will most likely receive a victim form that will state he does not want to press charges and the officers will not arrest John.

Example Situation 2:

John and Adam get into an argument in their shared apartment and John punches Adam.  While the argument is taking place, neighbors call police to the scene.  When police arrive at the scene, both Adam and John are still arguing until the officers knock on the door.  After settling the two of them down, the officers question both John and Adam.  Adam seems very nervous and hesitant to say that he does not want to press charges but ultimately decides not to.  When an officer questions the neighbors, they claim to hear arguments between the two of them very often and finally decided to call the police. Then, John admits to punching Adam.

Likely Outcome (NOT Guaranteed):

Since the officers recognized that Adam is uncertain of whether he should press charges or not, the neighbors informed the officers that arguments happen between John and Adam frequently, and John provided evidence against himself, they will decide to arrest John.  The officers will recognize that Adam may be in danger from John assaulting him again based on the accounts of everyone involved and decide that it is in Adam’s best interest for John to be arrested and the State will ultimately pursue charges.


Regardless of whether the victim presses charges, the State can still press charges based on any reports that the officers who observed the situation will provide.  This is in place because there are many instances in which the victim feels pressured by the person who assaulted them to not press charges.

If you have been involved in an assault and need legal advice, call Fred Sisto at 732-898-3232 for a free consultation.