A person I know (she lives in Maryland) was a victim of a minor assault where she was pushed around and her face grasped. Thankfully she did not suffer bodily harm. The two assailants admitted the assault but eventually after being held the maximum time without prosecution they were released. Apparently there was some urging by a character who did not care for my acquintance, at least about going to "see" her. I don't think this person was found to be guilty of instigation, but her involvement was deemed to be something close to it - though not worthy of arrest.

According to my acquintance the assailants were in the end released because of three reasons: 1) first time offenders 2) they expressed deep remorse during their extended arrest 3) "will of third party" was involved

I know 1 & 2 can play role in deeming long containment a sufficient punishment - but can 3 also influence non-prosecution decision? Or is she misunderstanding something? I've not heard of this before.

1 Answer 1


In the US at least, the decisions made by a prosecutor to prosecute - or not - or to level charges that involve less of a punishment are entirely up to the prosecutor. You can always ask the prosecutor the reasons for the lack of charges and release for "time served"; he/she may or may not tell you, depending on disclosure laws, age of defendants, or other legal reasons.

The prosecutor's job is to be objective and weigh the evidence, the involvement of all parties, remorse, previous offenses, evidence, possible pleas, the cooperation of the offenders, letters of support and character witnesses, media exposure, etc., all things that lead to what they feel is the likelihood of conviction (or a plea bargain) and some sort of sense of justice for the victim.

Prosecutors must also try to be aware of conflicts of interest with those charged, and ideally must avoid the pitfalls of corruption and political pressure to charge (or not charge) criminals.

But prosecutors may also not charge people because of having too much work to do with other more serious cases, lack of funding for investigations, lack of staff in the office, or even having a bad day; they're human.

Prosecutors arguably have a lot of power when it comes to justice; they can decline to prosecute and little can be done about it.

  • 1
    This answer would be improved by pointing out that there are improper reasons a prosecutor can have - corruption, conflict of interest etc.
    – Dale M
    Aug 28, 2019 at 2:27
  • Thank you for your answer. I'm not privy to details much beyond what I wrote in the OP - and since it's not my own case I feel uncomfortable about offering more details about it. I know prosecutor has a lot of leeway and I'm not challenging the decision. I just have never heard of condition like 3) being used as grounds for non-prosecution. Hence why I wondered if she had misunderstood something. But I guess it is possible at least, so no need to consider she's misleading me? (I can't think of motive for that to begin with.)
    – Xard
    Aug 28, 2019 at 2:42
  • @DaleM, good points; edited. Aug 28, 2019 at 2:43
  • @Xard Maybe the involvement of #3 influenced the other two to be more involved than without #3? Peer pressure? Maybe the prosecutor took that into consideration? Aug 28, 2019 at 2:46
  • @BlueDogRanch Yes, my understanding is something like that took place. At least some kind of egging on took place, though whether this involved suggestion of actual physical assault I don't know and consider unlikely. One of those intra-women "she's really a pain, y'know" kind of indirect things I think... In case of incitement (crime/legal sense) - and there was no charge of that brought - at least it seems weird to me if attacker culpability was lowered just because of occurence of incitement - as long as attackers are sound and "normal" people like in this case. Hence my wonder about 3
    – Xard
    Aug 28, 2019 at 2:50

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