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Posted on August 8, 2023 in Criminal Law

What’s the Difference Between Having Your Charges Dismissed vs. Dropped?

In the world of criminal law, understanding the legal jargon that surrounds a case is often just as important as understanding the potential outcomes. You may often hear the terms “charges dropped” and “charges dismissed” when dealing with legal proceedings. Although they might often be used interchangeably, each term has a unique definition that can greatly affect your case’s result.

Charges Dropped

When you have criminal charges dropped, it means the prosecutor has decided that they will no longer move forward with pursuing charges against you. This occurs most often when there isn’t enough evidence to make a strong case, witnesses have become unreliable or have recanted their statements, or there are legal issues with the case, like improper procedures during your arrest.

In some cases, charges may be dropped as part of an agreement where you agree to plead guilty to a less serious offense.

Having charges dropped doesn’t mean you were declared innocent or not guilty. Instead, it means the case against you is not going forward. However, it’s important to note that dropped charges can still show up on criminal background checks, depending on local laws and regulations.

Charges Dismissed

When your charges are dismissed, it means the court – not the prosecutor – has decided to cease proceedings on that particular case. This often happens when there isn’t enough evidence for the case to move forward after a preliminary hearing.

At a preliminary hearing, there must be evidence that a crime occurred. If this cannot be established, charges will be dismissed.

Having a seasoned defense attorney increases your chances of getting charges dismissed as they know how to argue based on the law and ensure all proper procedures are followed at all hearings.

Charges Reduced

Having charges reduced is another possible outcome in the criminal process. This means that a more serious charge is lowered to a less severe one. It often happens during plea bargaining, where you may plead guilty to the lesser charge in exchange for the dismissal of the more serious charges.

Charge reduction can potentially decrease your sentence or penalties, which might include fines and jail time. For example, a felony could be reduced to a misdemeanor with lighter sentencing outcomes.

Just like having your charges dropped or dismissed, getting them reduced greatly depends on several factors, such as the strength of the evidence and the competence of your legal counsel. Therefore, it’s important that you work closely with an experienced attorney who understands how to negotiate these matters on behalf of their clients.

Expunging Dismissed or Dropped Charges

In Arizona, if you have been arrested and your charges were dropped or dismissed, you can apply to the court to seal your criminal record. This is commonly referred to as expungement or sealing.

Importance of Expunging a Dismissed or Dropped Arrest

Expunging an arrest that didn’t lead to a conviction is critical for several reasons.

Expungement erases the record of your arrest from public databases. This means when background checks are conducted by employers, landlords, or educational institutions, this incident will not make a negative impression.

Additionally, expungement provides peace of mind. With an expunged record, you’re no longer having to explain or stress about what was potentially just an unfortunate misunderstanding that led to your initial arrest but did not result in a conviction.

Always Work With a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney

As a defendant, working with a lawyer to seek a dismissal or dropping of charges is vital due to their expertise and understanding of the law. A skilled criminal defense attorney can build detailed and robust defenses, identify faults in the prosecution’s case, challenge evidence presented against you, and expose any violations of your rights during arrest – all of which could potentially lead to a dismissal or dropped charges.

If you need help with any type of criminal matter, we’re here for you. Contact our law firm Orent Law Offices to schedule a free consultation.

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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