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How to Convince a Prosecutor to Drop Charges
6 Grounds for Dismissal

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may not have to go to trial or take a plea deal, as there are many ways to convince a prosecutor to drop criminal charges. Common examples include lack of probable cause, the existence of exculpatory evidence, demonstrating that police violated their rights, or agreeing to participate in a pretrial diversion program.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Grounds for Dismissing a Criminal Case

When facing criminal charges, defendants usually have to go to court to defend themselves. However, in a lot of cases, dismissals may occur before the trial even begins so that defendants don’t even have to fight the charges in court.

Cases may be dismissed for many different reasons, including:

  • Insufficient evidence to prove the crime – Insufficient evidence is evidence that does not meet the burden of proof and is inadequate to prove a fact. In a trial, if the prosecution finishes presenting their case and the judge determines that the burden of proof has not been met, the judge may dismiss the case on grounds of insufficient evidence. In criminal cases, the burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and failure to meet the burden equates to insufficient evidence.
  • Lost or Destroyed evidence – Secretly destroying evidence is illegal, and the process of doing so is referred to as spoliation. When a party is in possession of evidence in a case, there is a legal duty to preserve the evidence as best as possible. In most cases, lost or spoliated evidence is inadvertent; however, sometimes there are more insidious reasons for lost or destroyed evidence.
    Also Read: What is a Writ of Coram Nobis Used For?
  • Unavailability of a necessary witness to testify against the defendant – Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to confront witnesses and challenge their testimony. If a witness is not available to be in court to give their testimony, the court may determine to proceed without this person, and a previously given statement by that witness can be disregarded. In cases where this person is a material witness, the case may be dismissed.
  • Lack of probable cause – Under the United States Constitution, law enforcement must have probable cause that a suspect is engaging in criminal activity before they can justify any stop, search, or arrest. Many times, police may stop a vehicle or search premises without the required probable cause. In these instances, this lack of Probable Cause may be a reason to dismiss the criminal case.
  • Illegal stop or search – Individuals, including motorists on our nation’s highways, have 4th and 14th Amendment rights against unreasonable police search and seizure. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted these rights to mean that police may not make a traffic stop of a motorist without reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is underway.
  • Prosecutors’ discretion – Prosecutorial discretion is the power of the government to decide whether the circumstances of an event warrant criminal prosecution. This authority is valid from the moment a prosecuting attorney is asked to make an official criminal charge to the final sentencing.

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