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Can Charges Be Dropped Before Court?
5 Signs For Case To Be Dismissed

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Countless criminal cases never reach trial or a plea, as they are either dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the court.

By taking advantage of the Code of Criminal Procedure, you can have any charge brought against you dropped before a trial even starts.

How do you get your charges dropped at an arraignment hearing, or what steps to take before and after that?

As a legal attorney with over ten years of experience, I’m here to assist you in maximizing your chances of having any charges dismissed.

Let me guide you on tackling these tricky situations in this article.

Quick Summary

  • Sometimes, both parties agreeing to a plea deal or other arrangement can lead to the dismissal of the case.
  • Should a defendant experience any infringement on their rights during the legal process, it could lead to either case dismissal or a decrease in the sentence.
  • Despite the lack of any supporting new evidence, a prosecutor may still choose to press charges against you.

Reasons Why You Should Get Charges Dropped Before the Court Date

A lawyer reading a law book

If you manage to avoid the court date, it’s possible to escape this unfortunate predicament without too much damage done to your finances, reputation, or criminal record. Not only that, but you won’t have served jail time or paid a single cent in fines.

A permanent criminal record, even if it is just a misdemeanor, can have far-reaching implications in almost every area of your life.

Discrimination because of this conviction may follow you relentlessly, and some of the most common repercussions include:

  • If your employer runs a criminal background check on you, the potential consequence could be losing your job.
  • Hunting for new employment or a place to rent can prove difficult.
  • Your professional licenses and security clearances could be revoked if you’re not careful.
  • You could be restricted from owning a gun for the rest of your life.
  • You could be denied a student loan.

Why Might a Prosecutor Dismiss the Case Prior to Trial?

A prosecutor lawyer holding a gavelA prosecutor might dismiss the cases prior to trials because they believe they don’t have enough evidence to convince a judge or jury.

Other times, the prosecutor might realize their case is weak and thus decide to drop it.

Prosecuting a criminal offense can be intricate and multifaceted. One of the main reasons why prosecutors drop charges is because the victim decides not to cooperate anymore.

At that point, it becomes unviable for any prosecutor to move forward without further evidence or proof of probable cause.

Here are five more possibilities that might make it possible for your criminal defense lawyer to have your charges dismissed:

  1. Insufficient evidence. When the evidence against an accused individual is not substantial enough, or new information arises that weakens the prosecution’s case, a prosecutor may choose to dismiss criminal charges. 
  2. Fourth Amendment violations. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees citizens a safeguard against unwarranted searches and seizures by any law enforcement agency [1]
  3. Procedural issues. For law enforcement to execute lawful arrests, interrogations, and other pretrial activities, stringent criminal procedures must be followed. If a defendant’s rights are breached somehow during the process, it could result in the dismissal of the case or a reduction of sentence. 
  4. Lack of resources. Unfortunately, district attorneys and prosecutors are regularly faced with overwhelming caseloads. 
  5. Willingness to cooperate. By displaying your cooperation and willingness to aid in criminal investigations, prosecutors may be swayed by your lawyer’s plea for leniency or even complete dismissal of the charges. As such, there is potential for reduced sentencing if you work with authorities on other matters.

Related Article: How to Convince a Prosecutor to Drop Charges?

When a Case Is Dismissed, What Does It Mean?

A lawyer holding a gavelWhen a case is dismissed, it means that the charges have been dropped. The defendant is no longer facing any criminal prosecution, and all court proceedings related to the crime are over.

There are several ways for this to happen, including the prosecutor deciding to drop the case or a judge ruling that there isn’t enough evidence against the accused party.

In some instances, a plea deal or an agreement between parties can also result in the dismissal of a case. Regardless, it’s important to understand that a dismissed case does not mean the defendant is innocent. The prosecutor may not have more evidence or believes dropping the charges would be appropriate for other reasons.

Also Read: 5 Effective Ways to Get Felony Charges Dropped

How to Get Your Criminal Case Dismissed?

To get your criminal case dismissed, you can either have your defense lawyer negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor or file a motion to dismiss. Below are several effective tactics to convince a judge or prosecutor to dismiss charges successfully.

Related Article: 5 Reasons for Retracting a Statement

Presenting Exculpatory Evidence

Close up shot of a lawyer writing on a book with a gavel on the sideTo successfully secure your conviction, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

You can make this tough for them by furnishing alibi witnesses or exculpatory evidence to show that you did nothing wrong.

Despite any sufficient evidence, a prosecutor may still pursue charges against you. Your family members, for instance, might not be reliable alibi witnesses since they could be incentivized to tell untruths in your favor.

It is important to remember this when considering which evidence should and shouldn’t be used during the trial.

Related Article: What if I Miss My Court Date for a Misdemeanor?

Participate in a Pretrial Diversion Program

Pretrial diversion programs allow prosecutors and defendants to come together to settle criminal charges by allowing the accused person a chance at treatment instead of prosecution.

Typically, these agreements involve remaining out of trouble during a set duration and undergoing some form of therapy or counseling.

As long as you complete the terms of your pretrial diversion program, the court will drop all related charges and keep your criminal record clean.

Also Read: What is a Writ of Coram Nobis Used For?

Negotiating a Guilty Plea Agreement

Prosecutors may agree to reduce a felony charge if you plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor. Although this will still require sentencing for the misdemeanor, it comes with many advantages in comparison [2]

Cooperating in a Bigger Case

Believable only in a movie, prosecutors will actually drop charges if you have something they want, like when the police arrest someone for drug possession.

The prosecutor may dismiss the case altogether by trading physical evidence against other members of the illegal distribution chain.

Such an agreement could be beneficial for both sides, thus proving that crime truly doesn’t pay.

Also Read: Writing a Letter of Leniency

Is It Possible to Have Charges Dropped After a Successful Appeal?

A lawyer holding a gavel while standing up

Yes, it is possible to have charges dropped after a successful appeal. If convicted defendants successfully appeal their case, they may receive an order from the appellate court requiring that the lower court dismisses or acquits them instead of retrying them.

You may appeal your case based on the following:

  • Bad Arrest or Illegal Search by Police Officer
  • Insufficient Evidence to Prove Probable Cause
  • No Jurisdiction
  • Lost Evidence

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What Is a Grand Jury Dismissal?

A grand jury dismissal is when a grand jury dismisses, or “no-bill,” said criminal charge if the case fails to hold enough weight. Alternatively, prosecutors may choose to drop it altogether.

Why Do Courts and Prosecutors Dismiss Charges?

Courts and prosecutors dismiss charges because they believe the facts and circumstances necessitate it, or alternatively, when there is no legal basis for the charges against the defendant, their rights have been violated, or if the state has failed to demonstrate its case.

Can Criminal Charges Be Dismissed?

Yes, criminal charges can be dismissed when there is not enough weight or other evidence to support the charge.

What Is the Difference Between Dismissal and a Plea Bargain?

The difference between dismissal and a plea bargain is that the prosecutor drops the charges, and there is no criminal conviction on record. With a plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty to some or all of the charges in exchange for lesser penalties.

How Long Does It Take To Get Charges Dropped Before Court?

The amount of time it takes to get charges dropped before the court is unpredictable. If a defendant has been charged with DUI, they may need to dedicate substantial effort and resources to secure that the charges are dismissed.


Get Your Charges Dropped Before Court

If you’re accused of a crime, don’t hesitate to contact Schmidt & Clark, LLP for your free consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers.

Our team can analyze your criminal case and the available physical evidence thoroughly so we may determine if there are any grounds to initiate a motion to dismiss the charges against you.

There could be other potential reasons for dismissal that have not been included here as well! Your criminal defense attorney will also liaise with prosecutors to convince them to drop the criminal charge or devise an arrangement leading toward their discretion.



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