Difficulty in Charges Being Dropped in Breach of Trust Cases
Edward Prutschi, Criminal Lawyer with Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman of Toronto, discusses the difficulty of trying to get a criminal charge dropped if the complainant wants to change his or her decision.
Let’s take an example of a company accusing an employee of fraud and breach of trust. If the company is considering laying a charge then obviously until the crime is reported to anyone, it’s completely within their control. They still have the option of negotiating a repayment of the funds by the person who has committed the fraud or taking their complaint to a civil court. Once they have reported it to the police, however, the police will command an investigation and the accuser’s input into whether or not charges are laid may not be considered. The criminal charge is completely at the discretion of the police officer. The police officer will lay a charge, and then the file will end up in the prosecutor’s office where he or she will be responsible for how to proceed with that charge. The Crown decides whether to proceed with the charge or not based on whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charge. The Crown may consult with the victim and that will be a relevant factor in their consideration, but again, it is entirely up to them.
If the person who made the accusation decides instead that they want to settle the issue in civil court, thinking that is a better way to get their money back, it is a factor that the Crown and police will consider, but they still may decide to proceed with the prosecutions. The ‘take-home’ here for potential complainants or victims of crime is that the criminal justice system is not a dispute resolution mechanism. It is a prosecution, policing, and public safety system, so it should not be used if what you are trying to do is negotiate a resolution.
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Toronto, Ontario Region, contact Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman for a consultation.