The prospect of facing criminal charges can leave most people feeling unnerved. Even just the possibility of an accusation can drag you into an unfamiliar process where the parties seem to be speaking a foreign language, albeit one rooted in law. Having the proper legal representation can help ease some of the stress.
One of the questions you may have is whether there’s a way to get the charges against you dropped and if it can be done quickly, preferably before your court date. Typically, the answer depends on the facts, laws, and evidence pertaining to each case. Still, the sooner you retain experienced counsel, the greater your chances of successfully getting charges dropped.
The process of convincing prosecutors to drop charges can be complex. Attorney Case J. Darwin understands the factors involved and how to communicate the rationale for dropping charges before a court date. Here’s what you need to know about the process and what it means for your record.
Key Factors in Getting Criminal Charges Dropped
In most instances, prosecutors play the primary role in deciding whether charges should be brought against a defendant. To do so, they use the standard of “probable cause.” Law enforcement can arrest you if they believe there’s probable cause to suspect you have committed a crime. Prosecutors review the evidence to decide precisely what charges to file and initiate the case in court. A careful and detailed process begins when your case goes before a judge.
Getting charges dropped before a court date is not as easy as one may expect. If the case is in the early stages, a prosecutor may be able to simply withdraw charges. But, if the case is too far along in the process, the prosecutor may need to provide reasons for the dismissal and seek the court’s permission to drop the case.
Success in getting charges dropped depends mainly on the evidence law enforcement has collected. You and your attorney will need to convince prosecutors that their view of the evidence and interpretation of the law is incorrect and that in the interest of justice, the case must be dismissed.
Remember that the prosecutor is considered an officer of the court and, as such, plays a role in ensuring justice is done. If presented with compelling reasons for a dismissal, prosecutors are ethically bound to act. If prosecutors disagree with you and your attorney’s views of the evidence, you may be able to make your case before the judge and obtain a dismissal. However, it will require a court hearing.
Reasons Why Charges Might Be Dropped
Our criminal justice system is built around a fundamental premise: To obtain a conviction, authorities must present evidence that proves a defendant guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If prosecutors are uncertain about whether they can meet that standard at any time during the case, they’re obligated to dismiss the charges. This applies to both felony and misdemeanor charges.
Below are some of the factors that might lead to charges being dropped:
- Your attorney presents witness accounts that contradict the official narrative of the case.
- Witnesses change their stories or refuse to testify.
- A judge determines that your case involves serious violations of your constitutional rights, such as subjecting you to an interrogation even after you’ve asked for a lawyer.
- The defendant offers to cooperate and provide evidence that helps resolve other criminal matters.
- Prosecutors determine that the defendant has a clean record and deserves a second chance.
Can Charges Be Refiled?
Remember that dismissal may not mean the end of a case. Sometimes prosecutors decide to drop charges without prejudice, which in legal terms means they can be refiled if new evidence emerges. Conversely, dropping charges with prejudice, means they cannot be refiled. A court can also order charges dismissed with or without prejudice. Typically, each situation is different.
Does a Dismissed Criminal Charge Stay on Your Record?
The filing of criminal charges generates a public record that isn’t automatically erased even if charges are dropped, be it before or after a court date.
Under Nevada law, it’s up to you to ask the court to seal the records from public view. That means filing a petition with the court that heard the case. The petition typically covers records relating to your arrest and the proceedings leading up to the dismissal.
If your case was filed but then declined for prosecution, the law allows the records to stay open for some time in case authorities change their minds or new evidence is developed. According to the law, you must wait until eight years after the arrest or until the applicable statute of limitation expires.
Filing the petition with the proper documentation is your responsibility. The documentation must include items such as a certificate of acknowledgment or the disposition of the proceedings for the records to be sealed from all agencies of criminal justice which maintain those records. You will also have to identify the records to be sealed, so include your date of birth, a list of the dismissed charges, and the arrest date.
Choose Case J. Darwin Law Office for Quality Representation
As a criminal defense lawyer, Case Darwin understands the impact of being charged with a crime. Under our justice system, Texas carries the burden to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, there’s a way to avoid waiting for a trial. Our team of attorneys and professional staff will thoroughly examine the facts, evidence, and applicable laws in your case to look for weaknesses that could get the charges dropped before a court date.
Our team will work hard on your behalf to hold the state accountable for its responsibilities under the law and make sure justice is done and your rights are protected. Let the Case J. Darwin Law Office in San Marcos, Texas, fight for your rights and seek a proper resolution of the charges against you. Call us or contact us online today for an immediate, no-obligation consultation.