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Posted on November 15, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Dropping Charges in Criminal Cases in Phoenix

You’ve probably heard the term “dropping charges,” whether in real life or a TV show. However, most people don’t fully understand what this means and how it occurs. This blog explains the process of dropping charges in criminal cases in Phoenix, AZ. 

What Does “Dropping Charges” Mean?

Dropping charges refers to the act of withdrawing or discontinuing specific charges against an individual in a criminal case. Although it might seem similar, this action is different from when a judge dismisses charges, which is often done after a preliminary hearing. 

After a preliminary hearing, if there isn’t sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for the case to proceed further, the judge may dismiss some or all of the charges, even if the prosecutor wishes to proceed. 

Dropping charges is done by the prosecutor when they decide they don’t want to proceed for some reason. 

What Does “Dropping Charges” Mean?

There are several reasons charges might be dropped in a criminal case:

What Does “Dropping Charges” Mean?

Prosecutors often exercise discretion to drop charges when they believe there isn’t sufficient evidence for conviction. This decision could be based on several factors, including the strength of the evidence, the likelihood of securing a conviction in court, or even the nature and circumstances surrounding the alleged offense. 

They may also drop charges if they believe it serves (or aligns with) broader “interests of justice” to do so.

Constitutional Violations

Constitutional violations could lead to the charges being dropped as well. For instance, if evidence was obtained in a manner that violated your constitutional rights – such as through an unlawful search and seizure – then it is possible that this evidence would be suppressed during a motion to suppress hearing

Without such critical evidence available to the prosecution for its case, they may have no choice but to drop charges. For example, if you’re being charged with possession of a firearm and it is determined that the firearm was recovered illegally and therefore suppressed, the prosecutor likely wouldn’t be able to move forward with charges against you. 

Credibility Issues

If there are doubts about the credibility or reliability of witnesses or the evidence on hand, prosecutors may choose to drop charges. This can include instances where witnesses retract their statements, fail to remember crucial details accurately, or refuse to cooperate at trial.

Plea Agreements

If you enter into a plea agreement with the prosecutor, you can often agree to plead guilty or no contest to one or more charges in exchange for concessions from the prosecutor. These concessions might include dropping other charges entirely, reducing them from a felony to a misdemeanor, or agreeing on a lenient sentence.

Diversion Programs

In some cases, defendants will be permitted to participate in a pretrial diversion program instead of going to trial. These programs focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment and are typically reserved for first-time and non-violent offenders. 

The program may require counseling, anger management classes, enrolling in school, or engaging in drug or alcohol treatment. If all requirements of these programs are met, charges are typically dropped.

A Victim Cannot Drop Criminal Charges

Despite the common misconception, a victim cannot independently drop charges. While they can voice their desires for charges to be dropped, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor to make this decision. 

If a victim or witness does not show up for trial or fails to cooperate with the prosecution, it will weaken the case significantly – sometimes even forcing prosecutors to drop the charges because a conviction is not possible without them. 

The Prosecutor Could Issue a Bench Warrant

In serious cases – like homicide cases – a prosecutor can ask the court to issue a bench warrant compelling the witness to testify in court if they don’t show up. This means they will be arrested and taken into custody, at which point they will be forced to take the stand. This isn’t usually done, as it isn’t good practice to force victims or witnesses to testify.

A Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Your Best Option For Having Charges Dropped or Reduced

If you have any questions about criminal cases or dropping charges, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney

Contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Orent Law Offices In Phoenix To Get Legal Assistance Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorney Craig Orent. Give us a call at (480) 656-7301 or visit our law office at 11811 N Tatum Blvd UNIT 3031, Phoenix, AZ 85028. We offer a free case evaluation, so get the help you deserve today.

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