Can A Criminal Law Attorney Get Charges Dismissed?

Posted on: 22 December 2020

One of the first tools a criminal defense attorney will consider after the state files charges against a client is asking the court to dismiss them. This isn't an easy task in most cases because prosecutors typically only bring charges when their cases are tight. However, it's still common for a criminal law attorney to seek dismissal in the hope that it might cut the case short. Clients should understand the following things about the possibility of a judge dismissing a case.


When the state brings a case against a defendant, it has to explain to the court why this is worth the judge's time. Notably, the prosecution doesn't have to prove that the case is easily resolvable. Instead, they must merely show that a reasonable juror would believe a crime might have occurred and that juror would also believe the defendant might have committed it.

Initial hearings usually follow shortly after the state files charges. Your criminal law attorney will have a chance to ask questions about how the police gathered evidence, why warrants were issued, and if the charges are appropriate. The judge will hear your side's concerns and consider any compelling reasons why the case might be dismissed.

Also, a dismissal may come at any time until a judge has entered a sentence. If flawed evidence turns up during discovery, for example, you can ask for dismissal even if a trial is underway.

Why Courts Dismiss Cases

Generally, dismissals land in one of four categories. First, there are dismissals driven by the legal process. For example, a police officer might have lacked probable cause to pull a driver over before discovering drugs in a car. A judge may dismiss this sort of case because the initial stop was flawed and everything that followed effectively doesn't count.

Second, there may be a question of law. A person charged with criminal assault, for example, might provide enough evidence to convince the judge that they were acting legally in self-defense.

Third, the evidence may be flawed. If a defendant's fingerprints supposedly linked a gun to a crime, for example, then a ballistics test showing the bullet didn't come from that gun could undermine the whole case.

Finally, the prosecution has the right to drop cases on its own. This can occur for a host of reasons. The defendant might cooperate with the prosecution in another case, and dropping the charges may be part of the deal to get their cooperation. Similarly, a prosecutor might drop charges to avoid disclosing evidence from another, bigger case. For more information, contact a company like Daniels Long & Pinsel.