Innocent until proven guilty, right? That is the basic premise that the justice system in the United States. But even if you are completely innocent of the crime/s for which you have been charged, you still need to do some work on your part to prove your innocence.
Even better than simply proving your innocence in front of the judge or jury is providing evidence or reasons to dismiss the case entirely. How is a dismissal of charges different from being acquitted or found not guilty, you might ask?
A dismissal of charges, or nolle prosequi, literally means “will no longer prosecute”. This means that the prosecuting attorney drops the charges against you. This can be done in one of two ways, depending on where you live:
- The prosecution files a motion for the judge to dismiss the charges, and the judge must grant or approve of this motion.
- In other cases, the prosecution can unilaterally dismiss all of some of the charges against the defendant.
More importantly, how can you get a criminal charge dismissed with your criminal defense attorney? There are a number of reasons that the prosecution may be moved to dismiss. Some of the more common reasons include:
1. New Evidence Was Found
In the course of an investigation, evidence may be discovered that actually proves you’re innocent instead of guilty. Often times, evidence gathered in the early stages of an investigation may lead the prosecution to pursue charges against a specific individual.
But during the course of exploration for the case, the entire focus of an investigation can change because of one piece of evidence. In light of this, the prosecution is likely to dismiss the charges.
2. Existing Evidence Has Been Reevaluated
Things really aren’t always as they seem, and this can sometimes be the case with evidence in a criminal prosecution. The prosecution may think they have evidence of an individual’s guilt, but further testing or examination of that evidence actually points elsewhere.
For example, let’s look at a firearm. Perhaps the weapon is registered in your name, and someone saw you in possession of this weapon. Guilt for a crime committed with this specific firearm may point to you. But perhaps after DNA or fingerprint testing, the prosecution realizes that someone else used your weapon to commit a crime.
3. An Important Witness is No Longer Cooperating With the Prosecution
If a key witness to the prosecution’s case revokes his or her testimony, or refuses to testify at all, then this becomes a major problem in the prosecution’s case. If this specific witness or testimony was paramount to the prosecution’s case, they may not have a choice but to dismiss the charges.
4. The Prosecution Simply Feels it is in The Interest of Justice
Mitigating circumstances surrounding your specific case or charges may compel the prosecutor to dismiss the charges based purely on the interest of justice. For example, if you can present evidence that you acted in self-defense, then your criminal defense team can reach out to the prosecution to discuss this and move to dismiss the charges.
5. A Procedural Error on The Part of The Investigative Team
People make mistakes—and police officers and investigators are no different. If a procedural error was committed in gathering evidence or witness testimony, and that same evidence is what led to filing the charges against you, then you would have a very strong argument to move for dismissal.
The vast majority of the criminal justice system is based on the idea that everyone has rights, even those accused of a crime. Therefore, evidence that was not collected properly, or a witness statement that wasn’t heard correctly can be seen as a violation of those rights and be grounds for immediate dismissal of the charges you face.
6. The Prosecution Feels You Deserve a Second Chance
Depending on the exact nature and circumstances surrounds the charges, the prosecution may decide to drop, or dismiss, the charges based on the fact that you deserve a second chance. This type of dismissal is more realistic when your charges are a first time offense.
Consult with a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney Florida
If you are facing criminal charges in the state of Florida, you can play a very important role in having your charges dismissed. For instance, perhaps you have evidence that you can provide to your criminal defense attorney that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a key witness for the prosecution is not telling the truth.
By presenting this evidence and working with your criminal defense attorney, he or she can compel the prosecution to dismiss the charges against you.