STEP BY STEP GUIDE: Can I Get Criminal Charges Against Me Dismissed?

December 15, 2015  |  Adriel B. Villarreal

Criminal charges will stay on your record. Getting these charges dismissed is the best way to beat a charge and finally be able to move on with your life. While the obvious choice is to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you beat your charges, there are some vital steps that will need to be taken when a case goes to dismissal.

1. Understand Grounds for Dismissal

Dismissal may come from the following:

  • Lack of probable cause
  • Lack of evidence
  • Illegal stop and search
  • Improper filing
  • Lack of key witness

Normally, dismissals will only occur before an appeal, but there is a chance that if an appeal is won, all charges will be dismissed.

2. View Your Options

As you now understand, there are various reasons that a charge may be dismissed. You’ll need to build your defense based on these reasons. Let’s take an in-depth look at each:

Lack of Probable Cause

There must be a cause for your arrest. If you were arrested for looking suspicious, this is simply not enough. There always has to be a reason to be arrested. If you were not caught in the act or did not match a witness’ description, you may be able to get a dismissal based on lack of probable cause.

Mistake in Complaint

The officer that files a complaint must be the one to correct any errors that a complaint may have. In the event that the officer retires or dies and an error exists, the document cannot be edited by the prosecution.
In this case, your charges may be dropped.

Illegal Stop and Search

Stop and searches must take place legally. This means:

  • An officer can only stop you for breaking the law.
  • An officer cannot stop you based on ethnicity.
  • Searches can only be granted when there is a reason, such as:
    • Intoxication
    • Gun shots
    • Emergencies

An officer will not need a warrant under some circumstances. However, if there was no valid reason for a stop and search (i.e. you weren’t speeding or breaking the law), the search may be deemed illegal even if a search proved otherwise.

Insufficient Evidence

A fairly self-explanatory reason. There must be evidence that a charge is valid. If there is not enough evidence, charges may be dismissed.
Key witnesses, such as the arresting police officer, may constitute evidence. If the only officer that was witness to the supposed crime is not present, the charges may be dropped because insufficient evidence is given.
All of these options must be discussed with a lawyer. Every case is different, so the steps after this point may vary slightly.

3. Pleading Your Case

The final step is to require that the state prove the charges. The state carries the burden of proof. This will need to be done in the courtroom and is best handled with the help of a legal professional.
If you lost your case, you can appeal it. In the event that you win the appeal, you may be able to get the case dismissed or enter a judgment of acquittal.
Call Barna, Guzy & Steffen with any legal questions today at (763) 780-8500.