If criminal charges have been filed against you, you probably think you’re in a very tight spot. However, the protections of the United States justice system ensure that you have a chance at a fair trial, as well as the right to be treated fairly throughout the entire process. The systems in place include checks and balances to ensure that the defendant and the alleged victim have a chance to prove their cases and present evidence to back them up.
Because of the rules of this system, there are times where criminal charges can be dropped and there are many cases that never actually make it to trial. Below, we discuss some of the reasons why your criminal charges may be dropped, as well as some of the angles that your attorney will work to aid in your defense.
Who Files? Who Drops?
Before we discuss how charges are dropped, we need to examine who has the power to drop them. Although it’s a common plot twist in TV and movie dramas that a victim will drop the charges, this doesn’t usually happen. Often, the prosecutor is the one to file the charges after a crime is reported, and the victim has no authority to drop the charges.
The prosecutor does have discretion over which cases will be pursued, and sometimes, a decision will be made to drop the case against a particular suspect due to the circumstances surrounding the case or if there appears be insufficient evidence to build a case.
Before a criminal case proceeds to trial, the prosecutor must present the case to a grand jury, which is a panel of twenty-three citizens, who will consider whether sufficient evidence exists to justify an indictment. If the grand jury rules that the evidence is insufficient, the criminal charges are dropped, although the defendant may be charged with less serious offenses that can be prosecuted in a municipal court.
Prosecutors may decide to drop criminal charges for many other reasons. For example, a prosecutor may feel that the office’s resources are so limited that he or she may not be able to make enough time for a particular case, because doing so could deprive the office of the resources needed to prosecute more serious crimes like murder or sexual assault.
In instances like these, a prosecutor may choose to downgrade a crime to a lesser charge, in which case, a municipal prosecutor would be responsible for handling the case. Prosecutors are more likely to exercise their discretion to drop or downgrade criminal charges when the accused has no criminal record.
Sometimes, a prosecutor will drop charges because of issues relating to key evidence. There are occasions when new evidence, such as video footage. DNA evidence, or computer files, may prove that the original suspect is actually innocent and another individual may be responsible for the crime.
Other times, it is not the discovery of new evidence, but the loss of evidence, that may force a prosecutor to drop charges. Lost evidence may be the result of evidence simply going missing or witnesses moving away. Finally, there are times when charges must be dismissed because a judge has ruled that evidence that is in the possession of the State cannot be used by the State at trial because the State obtained the evidence by violating the rights of the accused.
The criminal trial process has many steps, and at any stage, changes in circumstances could work in your favor to contribute to a decision to drop your case. If you retain a strong Essex County drug lawyer from The Gorman Law Firm, he can help you work on the weak points of your case and try to get the charges dropped completely.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense, Drug Posession