Having Charges Dropped or Dismissed

Anyone facing criminal charges is hoping for an outcome other than a guilty verdict. That can come through an acquittal, although sometimes it is quicker and easier to have the charges dropped or dismissed before ever reaching a courtroom. How can any of these results find their way to your case? 

Dropped Charges

Criminal charges are filed when a prosecutor thinks they have enough evidence to get a guilty verdict if the case makes it to trial. If the prosecutor has doubts about that, they may drop the charges and tell the police to find further evidence if they want the case to move forward. This can occur at any stage of the process.

Dismissed Charges 

When the prosecution believes they have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, they will press forward with the case. The issue of reasonable cause is weighed by a magistrate judge during a preliminary hearing, where the judge takes a look at the evidence at hand. If the judge believes there is probable cause to move forward, it is a green light to the prosecutor. If there is not a strong foundation for a case, on the other hand, the complaint will be dismissed, and the defendant is free to go.

What if the Victim Wants the Charges Dropped

Sometimes victims want charges to be dropped, but the final decision is the prosecutors. If the prosecutor thinks it is in the interest of public safety to continue on, they may have to ignore a victim’s request. However, if the victim fails to cooperate, it may destroy the prosecution’s case, resulting in dropped charges anyway. This happens in cases of domestic violence, for example, when victims choose not to testify against their abusers.

Reasons Prosecutors/Judges May Choose to Drop or Dismiss Cases

There are plenty of situations when cases are dropped or dismissed, and a defendant walks away from the whole thing. While there may be a possibility that the case comes back to haunt a defendant later down the road, sometimes the case takes a turn in a whole new direction. Circumstances that could lead to a reprieve include:

  • Lack of evidence to support a guilty verdict;
  • Request by the victim to drop the case;
  • New information that contradicts the original theory of the crime;
  • Problems with evidence being inadmissible for one reason or another;
  • Issues relating to a defendant’s constitutional rights being violated;
  • An acceptable plea deal is reached wherein a defendant pleads guilty to lesser charges in exchange for lesser penalties.

Fighting for You

The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Boertje & Associates always fight for the best possible outcomes for our clients. More often than you would guess, we can settle matters before the case ever makes it to trial. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.

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