Posted on June 9, 2021 in Criminal Defense
Every criminal case has unique facts. Very few criminal cases are “easy” to get dismissed. Even weak cases can take time and effort to overcome.
But there are some paths to dismissal that can save you from the stress of a trial. They may still take time, effort, and investigation, but these dismissals are easier and more predictable than a jury trial.
Here are the things you should know about the easiest ways to get a criminal case dismissed.
After the police arrest you and the prosecutor files charges against you, the state will put its full weight and resources behind prosecuting your case.
This can create an intimidating situation that can only produce a few outcomes:
A prosecutor can choose to drop the charges against you. In most cases, this occurs because the police determine that someone else committed the crime or that no crime occurred.
The judge in your case can dismiss your charges. The judge can do this for many reasons, but they primarily relate to a legal defect in your investigation, arrest, or prosecution.
If you go to trial and a jury finds you “not guilty,” you would be acquitted of the charges. This means that no conviction would appear on any criminal background check.
When you plead guilty or a jury finds you guilty of the charges, the court will enter a conviction. This conviction will appear on your criminal record unless you have the conviction expunged.
In addition to your sentence, a felony conviction will result in a suspension of your voting rights. Under federal law, people who are convicted of felonies or misdemeanor domestic violence cannot own a firearm.
Going to trial for criminal charges risks a conviction. Juries make mistakes and return unpredictable verdicts. A criminal defense attorney will try to get your charges dismissed.
Five of the ways a defense lawyer can push for dismissal include:
The Arizona legislature empowered prosecutors to create prosecution diversion programs. Pre-adjudication programs allow the prosecutor to delay prosecution while you undergo treatment or complete other conditions, such as staying out of trouble for a set period of time.
If you complete all of the requirements of your diversion program, the prosecutor will dismiss all charges. This means that no conviction will appear on your criminal history.
If you have the opportunity to enter a prosecution diversion program, make sure that the program is pre-adjudication rather than post-adjudication. A post-adjudication program requires you to plead guilty before entering the program. This guilty plea may show up on your criminal record.
Arizona allows your defense attorney to interview witnesses to prepare your defense. If a witness refuses a voluntary interview, your attorney can file a motion with the court to request a subpoena for a deposition.
A deposition collects recorded testimony from the witness. The deposition allows your lawyer to pin down the witness’s story. If the witness changes their story at trial, your lawyer can use the deposition to show the inconsistency.
A deposition has an additional benefit. If a witness refuses to comply with a subpoena to appear at a deposition, your attorney can file a motion to preclude the witness from testifying at trial.
Most judges will protect a criminal defendant’s right to prepare a defense. Judges often err on the side of fairness and will prevent witnesses from testifying if they refuse to give your lawyer a preview of their testimony.
If the prosecution’s case relies on the witness’s testimony, the prosecution might have no choice but to dismiss the charges.
The police academy trains officers in interrogation. What you perceive as a friendly talk is actually a sophisticated process designed to get incriminating statements from you. But when the police cross the lines set by the U.S. Constitution, the court can stop the prosecution from using the confession.
The law gives police officers latitude in questioning you. They can lie, persuade, and trick you into giving a confession.
But police officers cannot obtain a confession through:
If you ask for a lawyer during questioning, the police must stop until you restart the conversation or your lawyer arrives.
If the police violated your rights while obtaining a confession, your defense lawyer can ask the court to exclude your confession from the case. Without a confession, the prosecutor may need to dismiss the charges.
The U.S. Constitution limits how and when police may search for evidence. Police officers can collect evidence from public places. But to legally search your car or home, police officers need a search warrant, permission from you, or evidence in plain view.
A judge can suppress evidence that was collected in violation of your rights. A prosecutor might dismiss charges if a judge tosses out key evidence in the case.
The police and prosecutors do not have a responsibility to search for exculpatory evidence. Once they find evidence that points to you, they do not need to investigate your side of the story.
Your defense lawyer will investigate your side of the story. Your lawyer will look for evidence that attempts to prove you did not commit a crime.
Exculpatory evidence includes evidence that:
In many cases, a prosecutor may choose to proceed with the charges and let the jury weigh the evidence. But exculpatory video or DNA evidence might compel a prosecutor to dismiss the charges.
A criminal defense lawyer will look for ways to get rid of a case with as little damage to your life and reputation as possible. Getting charges dismissed can end your case, save you from jail time and fines, and keep your criminal history clean.