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  1. #1
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    Question Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Iowa

    I was involved in a bar fight. Yes I had been drinking
    I have emails from both the lady and her husband admitting that they both hit me and my husband and that neither of us touched them .

    I was hit in the face with a beer bottle I then tackled the lady to the ground, Her husband tried to hit me so my husband held him against the wall by his throat(arm across neck) once the bouncer got between them my husband let go and the man reached around and hit my husband.

    I did not go to the police that night . An officer did come to the bar, i showed him my eye, however, he did not ask if I wanted to press charges.

    I called two days later on a tuesday to talk to an officer about pressing assualt charges. After i recieved threatning emails from the husband. My husband works on the road all week so i waited to go to the law center until the next weekend when he was home. However i did have pictures of my eye and the emails in hand. the officer told me that since it was in a bar and I alot to drink . That most likely nothing would be done except disorderly conduct charges on all of us..
    he did take a couple of names of some witnesses from me but only contacted one lady.
    he called me and said he couldn't get ahold of my witnesses, and that the other parties involved told him that my husband and i had assaulted them.. So he was going to drop it . I was really upset and told him I would do his job for him and get my other witnesses up there to fill out statements. So he agreed to that. but even after 2 other women went up and gave statements, the officer refuses to let it go to court. or let me even file charges.. i asked for a copy of the police report and copies of the statements that had been written and he told me I would have to get an attorney if i wanted them.
    our town has been KNOWN for having "bad" policemen. this year our chief and his deputy were inprisoned for rape... I strongly feel that the officer is biased against me because i own the body piercing shop here in my town.
    My husband and i neither one have records.. Nor have we been in fights in YEARS! like 15 + since we were in high school..
    I really want to pursue this.. What do I need to do ?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Bypass the Police, make an appointment with the County Prosecutor to see if s/he will review it.

    Bear in mind though the SC has ruled:


    "in American jurisprudence at least, a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another".

    IOW, if the Prosecutor won't file charges, there is no law that can force him to do it.

    A Civil action may be a remedy then, with or without any criminal charge.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Quote Quoting amyjo109
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    I did not go to the police that night . An officer did come to the bar, i showed him my eye, however, he did not ask if I wanted to press charges.
    He does not HAVE to ask you. Did you indicate that you wanted to pursue charges?

    the officer told me that since it was in a bar and I alot to drink . That most likely nothing would be done except disorderly conduct charges on all of us..
    He may be right. My DA frequently rejects bar fight complaints. One had the particularly telling notation, "No charges ... Drunks doing what drunks do."

    the officer refuses to let it go to court. or let me even file charges.. i asked for a copy of the police report and copies of the statements that had been written and he told me I would have to get an attorney if i wanted them.
    Chances are there is no law even in Iowa that requires the police to give you a police report. Likewise, there is no law that requires the police to send charges to the DA. You may well find, also, that there is no law that requires the DA to take the case to trial, either.

    Enforcement and the filing of criminal charges in most instances is a purely political decision and not required under the law. Heck, the police are generally not even required to investigate or take a report of a crime! There are exceptions for things like child molests, sex crimes, domestic violence, and the like, but not a bar fight.

    If you think the officer is stonewalling you unfairly or improperly, you should seek an appointment with someone higher up at the department and see what they have to say. You may get a better explanation, or they may agree to send it to the DA. Perhaps you can even go directly to the DA (or city attorney if these are prosecuted locally) and ask about it.

    However, if the DA decides that they will not pursue the case then you will only be left with the civil suit option against your attacker(s). However, without damages, there may be no good reason to do that.

    Most fights of this nature tend to involve cross finger-pointing and everyone comes out smelling a little rank. Prosecutors often hate to pursue these fights because the defense often is able to get everyone to admit they were being drunk and belligerent, and the cases tend to get muddied with reasonable doubt. I have rarely seen a bar fight go to trial when it involved something less that serious hospitalization. But, you can certainly see what comes of your pressure.

    Next time, seek to pursue the matter when the police initially respond - that would almost certainly have helped.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Quote Quoting amyjo109
    View Post
    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Iowa

    I was involved in a bar fight. Yes I had been drinking
    I have emails from both the lady and her husband admitting that they both hit me and my husband and that neither of us touched them .

    I was hit in the face with a beer bottle I then tackled the lady to the ground, Her husband tried to hit me so my husband held him against the wall by his throat(arm across neck) once the bouncer got between them my husband let go and the man reached around and hit my husband.

    I did not go to the police that night . An officer did come to the bar, i showed him my eye, however, he did not ask if I wanted to press charges.

    I called two days later on a tuesday to talk to an officer about pressing assualt charges. After i recieved threatning emails from the husband. My husband works on the road all week so i waited to go to the law center until the next weekend when he was home. However i did have pictures of my eye and the emails in hand. the officer told me that since it was in a bar and I alot to drink . That most likely nothing would be done except disorderly conduct charges on all of us..
    he did take a couple of names of some witnesses from me but only contacted one lady.
    he called me and said he couldn't get ahold of my witnesses, and that the other parties involved told him that my husband and i had assaulted them.. So he was going to drop it . I was really upset and told him I would do his job for him and get my other witnesses up there to fill out statements. So he agreed to that. but even after 2 other women went up and gave statements, the officer refuses to let it go to court. or let me even file charges.. i asked for a copy of the police report and copies of the statements that had been written and he told me I would have to get an attorney if i wanted them.
    our town has been KNOWN for having "bad" policemen. this year our chief and his deputy were inprisoned for rape... I strongly feel that the officer is biased against me because i own the body piercing shop here in my town.
    My husband and i neither one have records.. Nor have we been in fights in YEARS! like 15 + since we were in high school..
    I really want to pursue this.. What do I need to do ?
    I meant it had been like 15 years since either of us had been in a confrontation with anyone else.. not that we had been in 15 plus fights! lol

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Quote Quoting amyjo109
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    I meant it had been like 15 years since either of us had been in a confrontation with anyone else.. not that we had been in 15 plus fights! lol
    Well, *I* thought that was clear in the original post.

    Had you been in 15+ fights then, well, I'd have recommended you need to find a new hobby!

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    =cdwjava;355729]
    Chances are there is no law even in Iowa that requires the police to give you a police report.
    Iowa does have their own FOI act. A few germane points:

    3. As used in this chapter, "public records" includes all records, documents, tape, or other information, stored or preserved in any medium, of or belonging to this state or any county, city, township, school corporation, political subdivision, nonprofit corporation other than a county or district fair or agricultural society, whose facilities or indebtedness are supported in whole or in part with property tax revenue and which is licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering pursuant to chapter 99D, or tax-supported district in this state, or any branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council, or committee of any of the foregoing.

    "Public records" also includes all records relating to the investment of public funds including but not limited to investment policies, instructions, trading orders, or contracts, whether in the custody of the public body responsible for the public funds or a fiduciary or other third party.
    .1. Every person shall have the right to examine and copy a public record and to publish or otherwise disseminate a public record or the information contained in a public record. Unless otherwise provided for by law, the right to examine a public record shall include the right to examine a public record without charge while the public record is in the physical possession of the custodian of the public record. The right to copy a public record shall include the right to make photographs or photographic copies while the public record is in the possession of the custodian of the public record. All rights under this section are in addition to the right to obtain a certified copy of a public record under section 622.46.
    http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/2003SUPPLEMENT/22/

    and the best part:

    It shall be unlawful for any person to deny or refuse any citizen of Iowa any right under this chapter, or to cause any such right to be denied or refused. Any person knowingly violating or attempting to violate any provision of this chapter where no other penalty is provided shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
    and the civil penalties:
    http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/...ENT/22/10.html






    Likewise, there is no law that requires the police to send charges to the DA
    .Do you have that option? Are the police allowed to make such a discretionary decision? I would think it be a requirement for the police to send the file to the DA.





    Perhaps you can even go directly to the DA (or city attorney if these are prosecuted locally) and ask about it.
    that is the process around here.



    Most fights of this nature tend to involve cross finger-pointing and everyone comes out smelling a little rank. Prosecutors often hate to pursue these fights because the defense often is able to get everyone to admit they were being drunk and belligerent, and the cases tend to get muddied with reasonable doubt. I have rarely seen a bar fight go to trial when it involved something less that serious hospitalization. But, you can certainly see what comes of your pressure.
    around here, they are simply listed as
    "mutual combatants" unless there is a clear cut point in which one was obviously the aggressor and there was injury to the other party.

    Next time, seek to pursue the matter when the police initially respond - that would almost certainly have helped.
    if he was drunk, I believe he would have simply been told to talk to the desk at the police department the following day. I have rarely seen the police take such an action based on a drunk requesting it.

    I believe it tends to stem from the fact that by the next day, they don't remember a dang thing, which would make it near impossible to take the other guy to court anyway. That makes much of any action taken while they are drunk as a waste.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    Iowa does have their own FOI act.
    We do as well. But, buried within the Government Code sections that covers our public records is also a section that exempts investigative files from mandatory public release. I am pretty sure that Iowa has similar language. if they did not, then any and all police reports would be public knowledge and no investigations could possibly be conducted.

    Do you have that option? Are the police allowed to make such a discretionary decision? I would think it be a requirement for the police to send the file to the DA.
    If any state has a legal requirement mandating the police send reports to the police, I am unaware of it. Enforcement is a political decision except in those few instances where a report or even a consideration for prosecution might be mandated by law. In my state there are no offenses that come to mind that we must forward to the DA, but there are several that we must take a report on.

    If we forwarded EVERY report to the DA - including those for which no probable cause could be established - we would overwhelm an already overburdened DA's office. The chances are great that they would just start arbitrarily ignoring cases we sent them if we sent them crap.

    But, because it is a political decision, city police departments can be pressured by the local government to send cases to the DA. But, the DA has almost absolute discretion as to whether a case is prosecuted or not.

    around here, they are simply listed as "mutual combatants" unless there is a clear cut point in which one was obviously the aggressor and there was injury to the other party.
    Much the same as here.

    if he was drunk, I believe he would have simply been told to talk to the desk at the police department the following day. I have rarely seen the police take such an action based on a drunk requesting it.
    It is uncommon, yes. But, if we had an allegation of an assault by a bottle, and it could be substantiated, that would be considered a felony (in CA) and we would likely act upon that whether or not the victim was inebriated. If there were no injuries, and the bottle issue could not be substantiated, then it would more likely be a report.

    I believe it tends to stem from the fact that by the next day, they don't remember a dang thing, which would make it near impossible to take the other guy to court anyway. That makes much of any action taken while they are drunk as a waste.
    Drunks make bad witnesses. Even if the party or parties were NOT drunk, a decent defense attorney will make them all out to have been inebriated. I've watched some good ones in action and by the time they are done, they can probably make a teatotaler like me agree that I was impaired!

    - Carl

    Found the exception:
    22.7
    5. Peace officers' investigative reports, except where disclosure is authorized elsewhere in this Code. However, the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident shall not be kept confidential under this section, except in those unusual circumstances where disclosure would plainly and seriously jeopardize an investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of an individual.


    http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/...MENT/22/7.html

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    =cdwjava;355770]We do as well. But, buried within the Government Code sections that covers our public records is also a section that exempts investigative files from mandatory public release. I am pretty sure that Iowa has similar language. if they did not, then any and all police reports would be public knowledge and no investigations could possibly be conducted.
    I was going to include that possibility. I did not see anything but we both know how these things can hide. So, even if there is such a limitation, is this not now a dead issue since the police have refused to continue any action? It would appear that this is no longer an active case, as far as the police are concerned.

    If any state has a legal requirement mandating the police send reports to the police, I am unaware of it. Enforcement is a political decision except in those few instances where a report or even a consideration for prosecution might be mandated by law. In my state there are no offenses that come to mind that we must forward to the DA, but there are several that we must take a report on.
    Not arguing, simple saying that is a bad idea. It removes the decision from the entity charged with making the decision and places it into the hands of (not all police are included, present company especially) of a person that is not trained in the law and who (innocently enough) may have no idea of a law that was being broken or the specifics of a law they may not fully understand. Remind me to tell you the story of when I was 16 and the police threatened to arrest me for being in a place I was fully legally allowed to be. The officer was ignorant of the law.

    He did earn my respect later when he called me to apologize after he (as I suggested) researched the law I was speaking of and found me to be correct.

    If we forwarded EVERY report to the DA - including those for which no probable cause could be established - we would overwhelm an already overburdened DA's office. The chances are great that they would just start arbitrarily ignoring cases we sent them if we sent them crap.
    I can see that as a problem too but it still removes the decision from the party that has actual legal training, and the duty to make such a determination.

    But, the DA has almost absolute discretion as to whether a case is prosecuted or not.
    I don't doubt that. There are avenues to take if a DA does not prosecute a case that a person fervently believes is a righteous case though, at least around here.


    .


    It is uncommon, yes. But, if we had an allegation of an assault by a bottle, and it could be substantiated, that would be considered a felony (in CA) and we would likely act upon that whether or not the victim was inebriated. If there were no injuries, and the bottle issue could not be substantiated, then it would more likely be a report.
    makes sense


    Drunks make bad witnesses. Even if the party or parties were NOT drunk, a decent defense attorney will make them all out to have been inebriated. I've watched some good ones in action and by the time they are done, they can probably make a teatotaler like me agree that I was impaired!
    that's funny. Probably true, but funny..and scary.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    In my state a Police incident report IS a public record.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can the Police Refuse to Let You Press Assault Charges

    Quote Quoting BOR
    View Post
    In my state a Police incident report IS a public record.
    It apparently is in Iowa as well. I think it is in Cali as well. Carl was speaking about active investigations though. In Cali, they can disallow the publication of the report until such time it would not interfere with the investigation. It really does make sense to treat them this way.

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