If a written payment agreement is signed and notarized, can charges still be pressed?
1 Answer from Attorneys
There are many good public policy reasons to encourage repayment agreements. But, even with such an agreement in place, a criminal charge can still be filed. The prosecuting attorney decides if / when / what charges are issued, not the victim. A 'payment agreement" may convince the prosecutor to not issue charges (or hold off for a while). But even up-front payment of restitution does not prevent a charge from being issued because getting a victim paid back in full is only one reason to prosecute a wrongdoer. Also, from the prosecutor's perspective, if the repayment agreement contemplates repayment over the course of several years, is the prosecutor supposed to "sit" on the file for years to monitor whether payments are being made or not privately?; and, if payment stop down the road, is the criminal case still viable (are witnesses still around and do they remember the facts, etc.)? Sometimes, the better course is to charge the person, which may (gasp) result in much quicker repayment to the victim in exchange for a deal (e.g., diversion where the charge is dismissed; charge reduction; sentence deals; etc.).
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