Criminal defendants tend to have the same goal of making their charges go away. While your attorney will certainly try to help you achieve this goal, there is more than one possible outcome. If you are successful, your charges may be dropped or dismissed. In either circumstance, the outcome is more or less the same. However, the procedures involved and the aftermath of your case are somewhat different.
Criminal charges may be dropped by a prosecutor or dismissed by a judge. Because prosecutors have the authority to file charges against a defendant, they can drop charges they no longer wish to pursue. Reasons prosecutors drop charges vary from case to case and between charges. Only judges can dismiss charges, sometimes at the behest of the defendant, although a judge may dismiss charges on their own. Depending on how a judge dismissed charges, they may or may not be filed again.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to understand what happens if you have your charges dropped or dismissed. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys will work to hopefully get your charges dismissed or dropped. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation.
How Are Charges Dropped or Dismissed in Utah?
When charges are dismissed or dropped, defendants may walk free. However, the processes for dropping and dismissing charges are different, and the legal consequences might also be different. What happens to your charges often comes down to timing.
Charges are dismissed only by a judge. For your charges to be dismissed, they must have been officially filed against you in court. You will have likely had an arraignment at which you were informed of the charges against you. Just because your charges were formally filed does not mean they are set in stone. Courts understand that criminal cases tend to unfold as cases progress. New information may make certain charges unrealistic or unnecessary. If it is discovered later that there is no probable cause to support your charges or your alleged offenses do not meet the legal definitions of a crime, your charges should be dismissed.
Prosecutors typically drop charges when they feel charges are no longer worth pursuing or are unsupported by the evidence. Dropping charges is somewhat less formal than dismissing them, although an entry on the record must be made, and does not always need court approval. Charges are often dropped because there is insufficient evidence to meet the prosecutor’s burden of proof. They are often dropped as part of plea agreements or when new information shows that the charges are unnecessary.
If you face criminal charges, it may be possible to convince prosecutors or the court to drop or dismiss the charges. Our Layton criminal defense lawyers may be able to help you with your case.
Who Decides to Drop or Dismiss Utah Criminal Charges?
The difference between dropping and dismissing criminal charges comes down to authority. Only certain people may have the authority to drop or dismiss criminal charges. While prosecutors often drop charges, they are dismissed by a judge. However, numerous players may influence the decisions of a judge or prosecutor.
Prosecutors have a lot of power over a criminal case. They have the sole authority to charge defendants with crimes. This also means they have the authority to drop charges after imposing them. As mentioned previously, prosecutors typically drop charges when new information suggests that different charges should be filed or current charges are unsupported by evidence.
Dropping charges is entirely up to the prosecutor, although they may consider input from other players, such as law enforcement, when deciding. Prosecutors want to make sure their charges stick, so they only ever drop charges for very good reasons. They also tend to think very carefully about the charges they want to impose before filing them. This decision-making process sometimes means prosecutors will charge a defendant with multiple crimes, and as investigations unfold, some charges will be dropped while others will proceed to trial.
While prosecutors have the discretion to drop charges, only judges can dismiss them. Depending on when a judge dismisses your charges, they may or may not be refiled against you at a later date. Typically, a dismissal will be considered an acquittal, and double jeopardy will attach if your charges are dismissed after a jury has been impaneled. While this is good news for defendants because it means they cannot be charged again, getting charges dismissed after a jury is picked may be difficult as juries are usually picked shortly before a trial begins.
Call our Ogden criminal defense lawyers about your criminal charges today. We can urge prosecutors to drop unnecessary charges or convince a judge to dismiss them.
Can Victims or Witnesses Have Charges Dropped or Dismissed in Utah?
Contrary to what many people think, victims have no control over whether charges are dropped or dismissed. Utah has a rather extensive victim’s rights system that provides numerous rights and protections to victims, but victims do not have the power to drop charges. On television or in movies, we sometimes see victims refusing to press charges or demanding that charges be dropped. While a victim may be a key witness in a criminal trial, they have no authority over dismissing or dropping charges.
However, victims or witnesses may influence decisions surrounding your charges. If a victim’s testimony is important, but they refuse to cooperate or testify, prosecutors might have to drop the charges because they cannot prove their case without the victim or witness. However, we cannot negotiate with victims or witnesses in this regard as that would be illegal.
What we can do is challenge the admissibility of the victim or witness’ testimony. If we can suppress unreliable, biased, or otherwise inadmissible testimony, we might force prosecutors to drop charges. Call our Park City criminal defense attorneys for help today.
What Happens to Your Case After Charges are Dropped or Dismissed in Utah?
The Double Jeopardy rule of the Fifth Amendment prevents prosecutors from trying you for the same crimes twice. However, the rule does not prevent them from charging you for the same crime twice. Ordinarily, once you have been acquitted, you cannot be charged for the same offense again. However, if your criminal charges are disposed of by any means other than acquittal, prosecutors could potentially refile the charges against you later.
A judge may prevent a prosecutor from refiling dismissed charges if that dismissal does not cause double jeopardy to attach. Judges may dismiss charges with or without prejudice. When charges are dismissed with prejudice, they cannot be refiled. Our Provo criminal defense lawyers will argue for any dismissal to be with prejudice.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges, our team can help you get those charges dismissed or dropped. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation. Our legal team has the skills and experience to fight your charges.