Dealing with criminal charges can be a source of immense stress and uncertainty, affecting many aspects of a person’s life. The fact that these charges could potentially be dropped provides a glimmer of hope during what is undeniably a trying time.

While seeking dismissal might not be possible in every instance after an arrest, understanding the circumstances that can lead to dropped charges is an important consideration for any defense strategy. Here’s what you need to know about dropping charges in criminal cases.

What Does Dropping Charges Mean?

When charges are dropped in a criminal case, it means that the prosecution has decided not to move forward with prosecuting someone for the alleged crime. This can happen at various stages of a legal process — right after formal charges are filed or even sometimes during trial. It effectively means that no further action will be taken against the defendant regarding those specific allegations within that particular case.

The Prosecutor Decides if Charges Are Dropped – Not a Victim

In criminal law, a common misconception is that victims can choose to drop charges once they have been filed. In reality, this decision rests with the prosecutor’s office and not the alleged victim. 

Despite what we see on TV, there are many cases where prosecutors go forward with charges even if this isn’t in line with the victim’s wishes – especially if they can prove the case without a civilian victim. 

Why Would a Prosecutor Drop Charges?

A prosecutor’s primary responsibility — beyond simply “winning” cases — is to seek justice. As such, they will routinely reassess their cases for viability based on many factors. Here are some of the reasons charges might be dropped:

Evidence Obtained Illegally

Even compelling evidence loses all legal standing if it’s discovered that it was obtained in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights, such as through unlawful search and seizure methods. In cases where law enforcement officers have disregarded appropriate procedures, a prosecutor might feel as if they have no choice but to drop the charges. 

If they try to move forward despite the unlawfully obtained evidence, this could result in the judge ruling it inadmissible in a motion to suppress, thus ultimately destroying the prosecutor’s case anyway.

Witness Unavailability or Unreliability

In many criminal cases, witnesses play a crucial role. A prosecutor may reassess their stance on continuing with charges if key witnesses become unavailable – due to reasons ranging from relocation to health issues – or change their statements, which compromises their credibility. If vital testimonies aren’t seen as trustworthy, a prosecutor may conclude that it’s necessary to drop the charges.

Victim Requests

Sometimes, a victim may request the prosecutor not to move forward with prosecuting the criminal case. Even though this choice is ultimately the prosecutor’s, they may choose to honor such requests for several reasons – perhaps the charges largely rely on the victim’s testimony or because continuing could further traumatize them.

Defendant’s Cooperation

A willingness from defendants to assist law enforcement in other investigations can impact their own cases. When defendants can provide valuable information or testify in a case of larger importance, this cooperation can play a role in the decision to drop charges against them. 

Diversion Programs

There are situations where a prosecutor might opt for alternative solutions like diversion or restorative justice programs rather than proceeding with criminal charges. Diversion programs allow defendants, usually first-time offenders or individuals charged with minor crimes, to fulfill certain obligations – such as completing educational courses, performing community service, or undergoing treatment for substance abuse. This could lead to their charges being dropped upon successful completion. 

New Evidence

Another reason prosecutors may drop charges is if new evidence surfaces that significantly alters the landscape of their case. This could be newly discovered witness statements contradicting previous testimony, additional surveillance footage clearing the defendant, or forensic reports that support other conclusions, for example. 

When such evidence undermines the prosecution’s ability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it might compel them into dropping charges.

Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, remember that there might be multiple avenues to have those charges reduced or even dropped.

For more information, contact us to schedule a free consultation with a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (513) 333-0014 or visit us at our Cincinnati Law Office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States