Being charged with a crime is a serious matter and often extremely unnerving as well. You’re confronted by authorities who likely use language describing official legal processes that will seem confusing and unfamiliar. You probably have many questions, one of which may be “can the charges be dropped?”
The short answer is: yes, they can, and sometimes, fairly quickly. That may not give you solace, as you still face the disruptions involved in filing, processing, and resolving criminal charges. But you have rights under the law, and the system strives to produce just results, so a dismissal is possible if charges are not properly filed, additional evidence is discovered, or other circumstances in the case change before trial.
How to Get Charges Dismissed Quickly
Under the American system of justice and our laws, it is the government’s responsibility to prove you guilty of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many processes that must be followed to meet that standard. Sometimes, though, the process can get disrupted and bring your criminal case to a fairly rapid conclusion short of a conviction. While every case has its own facts, here are a few strategies that you and your lawyer may pursue to get charges dismissed quickly.
Rules of Criminal Procedure and Process
Prosecutors are bound by both the rules of criminal procedure and the court’s rules of evidence in processing the case against you. These rules have been established and refined through experience over many years. If the state fails to follow these rules, it can result in the dismissal of your case without you having to spend many days in court worrying about the outcome.
For example, under our system, police must have “probable cause” to suspect you of a crime before they can make a lawful arrest. Sometimes, the circumstances of an arrest will get examined in the earliest stages of a case. If your attorney can show that police did not have proper probable cause, your case could be dismissed quickly.
Your attorney can also challenge the charge on other types of procedural grounds. For instance, under the rules of criminal procedure in Nevada, a case can be dismissed if you feel that the justice of the peace does not have jurisdiction.
Insufficient Evidence/Lost Evidence
Another path for challenging the charges against you is by questioning the evidence. For instance, if the facts as stated in the criminal charge are not enough to establish the elements of a criminal offense, you may be entitled to a dismissal of your charges. Your attorney can also make that case during a preliminary hearing, which is an official proceeding held to establish probable cause. (You can also be charged through an indictment following grand jury proceedings, which offers less opportunity for a defendant to make a case that there is insufficient evidence.)
It may not happen quickly, but you can also challenge criminal charges on the grounds that your constitutional rights were violated. For example, the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. So, if the police stop you for a random, unlawful reason, such as the color of your skin, you may have grounds to seek dismissal of your charges. Proving a constitutional violation requires a skilled attorney; let the team at De Castroverde Law Group evaluate your case and develop the arguments to enable you to resume your life.
Meaning of Prejudice
In connection with your case, you will want to understand if your charges have been dismissed “with prejudice.” That is an official court term indicating the prosecutors are not allowed to refile the charges. Cases dismissed without prejudice can be refiled under some circumstances, such as to correct errors.
Can Charges Be Dismissed Before a Court Date?
Prosecutors in Nevada filed more than 146,000 criminal cases in 2020, roughly the same amount as the year prior. Not all of those will result in guilty pleas or trial verdicts. Some will be dismissed outright before reaching that point.
Can that happen without ever having to go to court? Yes, it’s possible under some circumstances for charges to be dismissed before a court date, but it’s not very common, especially for felony matters. Those more serious charges have typically already been authorized by a prosecuting attorney, and a subsequent decision to dismiss needs to be entered on the official record under the supervision of the court. Pre-trial dismissals are challenging to obtain and require the support of a skilled attorney.
Can You Seal Your Previous Criminal Record?
Under certain circumstances, Nevada law allows courts to remove records of criminal convictions from public view wholly or in part — a process known as “sealing” records. Sealed records are off-limits to everyone except in very narrow circumstances, such as record-keeping management, or in response to a court order, perhaps involving an investigation.
Courts will also consider petitions to seal records of charges that do not result in a guilty plea or guilty verdict, such as if charges are dismissed, you are acquitted in court, or prosecutors decide not to bring a case. Those petitions can be entertained by various courts at various intervals based on the specific circumstances.
Petitioning to seal records is an important step to take because having a criminal record can interfere with your ability to get a job, rent a home, or borrow money from a bank.
De Castroverde Law Group Protects Your Rights
If you are accused of a crime or violating your immigration status, you need an attorney to speak for you. The attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group are experienced in providing criminal defense and protecting your rights under the many immigration laws. Our team includes former prosecutors who understand the state’s mindset and processes in bringing a case and are ready to use that experience to react and respond on your behalf.
Our immigration attorneys have handled many matters, ranging from immigrant visa processing to deportation hearings or family immigration petitions, and can provide you with the support you need. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation so we can help evaluate your case.