Under What Circumstances Might Criminal Charges be Dismissed?

When facing criminal charges, people are often consumed with anxiety about the future. What will happen to you if you are found guilty? Will the prosecutor aggressively pursue charges, or is there any chance the charges could be dropped before things get that far? These questions and more can be answered by an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

Factors Impacting Possible Dismissal

Without question, the best-case scenario would be for the charges to be dismissed early on in the case. That is a possibility, based on purely practical deliberations by the prosecutor, who knows that limited resources might be better spent elsewhere on more serious or more sure-to-win cases. Prosecutors are sometimes willing to drop the charges for first-time offenders, especially when low-level or non-violent crimes are involved. Certainly, there are always cases where prosecutors are willing to plea bargain away possible incarceration, depending on what you might have to offer. Lastly, dismissals sometimes occur due to an error or misconduct by police or prosecutors, including:

  • Errors in charging documents or criminal complaints;
  • Chain of custody issues relating to evidence in the case;
  • Tainted or missing evidence;
  • Improper searches or stops;
  • Arrests lacking probable cause;
  • Changes in witness testimony.

Elements of a Crime

It is conceivable that defense attorneys convince prosecutors that they do not have enough evidence, being that the prosecution has the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. What does that entail?

  • A crime occurred due to the actions or omissions of the defendant (Actus Reus).
  • The defendant knew that their action (or lack thereof) would result in a crime (Mens Rea).
  • If the crime is identified by some sort of harm, additional issues must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Either a specific victim or society, in general, was harmed by the actions of the defendant.
  • The harmful outcomes were the result of a crime.
  • Other issues related to the crime (known as attendant circumstances) include the time and place of the crime, relevant facts about the victim, procedures involved in the crime, motives, and other facts specific to the crime must also be explained to a jury and convince them beyond a reasonable doubt.  

When a prosecutor believes they do not have the facts to prove their case, it gives the defense more ammunition to argue for a dismissal.

Fighting for the Best Outcomes

At Boertje & Associates, our tough, experienced criminal defense attorneys always work to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients. Whether we manage to get the charges dismissed or reduced or we take the case to trial, we give our best to every case. To discuss yours, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today. 

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