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What Happens When a Criminal Case is Dismissed?

Updated: May 11, 2022

It’s possible to get your case dismissed and have the charges dropped before the case goes to court. However, it may prove difficult to do so without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. That’s why it’s important to close your case properly and understand exactly what happens when your criminal case is dismissed.

Consulting with an experienced attorney about your claim could help you get your desired results. That’s why criminal defense law professionals suggest working with Julian Stroleny for your defense needs. Read on for more information about properly dismissing your case.

Image by Saúl Bucio/Unsplash

Dismissed Case

A dismissed case means that a case is closed without finding guilt. This means there are no convictions for the defendant in a criminal case by a court of law. However, a dismissed case does not prove that the defendant is factually innocent and could remain on the defendant's criminal record.

Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal

Cases are voluntarily dismissed if the prosecution chooses to do so. Victims can influence prosecutors to dismiss a case voluntarily, but the decision is ultimately theirs to make. District attorneys can choose to pursue a case even after the victims declined to press charges.

When a case is involuntarily dismissed, this means the judge chooses to dismiss the case against the wishes of the prosecution. This may occur when the defense files a motion to dismiss based on a legal reason. Read on to learn more about the different kinds of dismissed cases.

Different Types of Dismissed Cases

The type of dismissal will impact your case’s outcome and your ability to potentially seal the case from your criminal record. Here are the different types of dismissed cases you may face:

Dismissed with Prejudice

When a case is dismissed "with prejudice," it means that no other suit can be filed on that same claim once the case is closed. When judges dismiss a case with prejudice, they determine that the case is settled and cannot move forward. Defendants may appeal these rulings to a higher court, but they cannot file a new claim.

Dismissed without Prejudice

If a case is dismissed "without prejudice," it means that, although the case is closed, other suits can be filed on the same claim within the applicable statute of limitations. Cases may be dismissed without prejudice if the case is only partially settled and the plaintiff chooses to drop the charges for a complete settlement.

Plaintiffs can file a new claim against the defendant. A case could result in being dismissed without prejudice if the plaintiff agrees to allow the defendant to make payments instead of going to court.

Dismissed for Want of Prosecution

When a case is dismissed for "want of prosecution," it means that the case has been inactive on the court docket and that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant was active in the proceeding.

If a case has remained inactive on the docket for a given amount of time, and both parties fail to seek relief or appear in the trial, the court may decide to place the case on a list of cases to be dismissed.

Dismissal After a Mistrial

If a jury fails to deliver a unanimous verdict, your criminal defense team can file a motion for a mistrial. The judge may ask the jury to take additional time to deliberate and attempt to reach a verdict, but if a verdict can’t be reached, a judge may declare a mistrial.

Sealing A Dismissed Case

To seal a dismissed case or an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, when charges weren’t filed, the defendant must show factual innocence of the crime. This will vary depending on the laws governing the state.

Sealing a dismissed case means the information is removed from sight so that the public. Sealing a court case from a criminal record allows individuals to move forward without being concerned with potential employers and business associates having an awareness of the record.

To clear your record, you’ll have to request an expungement. This process can take months. This is a critical step and can seriously harm your career if it isn’t handled promptly. An arrest for a criminal offense is a serious matter.

If you’ve been arrested for white-collar crimes, domestic violence cases, sex crimes, felony cases, or a violent crime, take the time to learn your legal rights. Having your case dismissed, sealed, or expunged correctly will determine your case's lasting impact on your life.

By ML Staff. Top image by Succo/Pixabay


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