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What can cause the dismissal of criminal charges?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Few things in life are scarier than facing criminal charges. After all, if prosecutors have charged you with violating state or federal law, you eventually may lose your freedom. You may also have to deal with the many negative consequences that come with having a criminal record.

Just as prosecutors usually have wide latitude to drop criminal charges, judges may dismiss them. Here are a couple of reasons prosecutors or a judge may choose not to proceed with the criminal charges against you.

Insufficient evidence

As the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts notes, prosecutors have the burden of proving each element of the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. To do so, they present evidence they believe proves your guilt. If there is simply not enough direct or circumstantial evidence, prosecutors may drop the matter.

Likewise, a judge may not let your trial proceed if he or she believes there is insufficient evidence. Specifically, when there is not enough evidence of your guilt, a judge is not likely to waste valuable resources on a trial.

Constitutional violations

The Bill of Rights gives you some valuable rights that prosecutors, judges and law enforcement must respect. These include your rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, to remain silent and to have legal counsel through major phases of the criminal justice process.

If a state actor violates your fundamental rights, you may no longer have to face criminal charges. That is, prosecutors may not be able to use certain pieces of evidence against you, leaving them with inadequate proof of your guilt.

Ultimately, because you may have to argue for the dismissal of charges, it is critical to explore all your legal options as soon as you know about them.