What Does It Mean When a Charge Is Dropped?

What Does It Mean When a Charge Is Dropped?

Criminal charges are brought against a defendant by the state or the people, and they can be maintained or dropped by the same. This may be a surprise, as it seems all crimes have victims who many feel deserve justice for being hurt.

Why Are Criminal Charges Dropped?

Criminal actions, such as the ones prohibited explicitly by the Texas Penal Code, are considered by our justice system to be wrongs against not just a victim or victims, but against society as a whole.

Therefore for most crimes, it is the prosecutor, acting as the representative of the state, who has the discretion to drop criminal charges against a criminal defendant. There may be any number of reasons a prosecutor would drop charges, including the following:

  • The victim refuses to participate in the case and wants to drop the charges for reasons such as being afraid of the accused, having sympathy for the accused, being otherwise emotionally invested in the accused, or have decided that they identified the wrong perpetrator.
  • New, credible witnesses may have come forward to refute the current witnesses’ stories.
  • The defense may have enough evidence to sway a jury in their favor.
  • The physical evidence against the accused may be weak.
  • Law enforcement officers may have gathered evidence in a manner that violated the 4th, 5th, or 6th Amendments to the Constitution, such as entering a home without a warrant or failing to read Miranda rights, which would make the evidence inadmissible.
  • New evidence could exonerate the accused.
  • The prosecutor may drop more severe charges in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser charges.
  • The prosecutor may have cut a deal with the accused of something considered to be beneficial to the justice system or society, such as serving as an informant or witness against higher value perpetrators who are still at large.

How Often Do Charges Get Dropped?

As demonstrated above, there is no single reason that charges get dropped, although it happens–from charges being dropped completely (less common) to some of a long list of charges being dropped while others remain (more common). The critical takeaway is that reasons charges could be dropped range widely and over the entire timeline of a criminal matter.

With so many potential causes of charges getting dropped, one way to increase your chance of having your charges dropped is to engage the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Experienced attorneys will hold the process to the highest standard and will ensure that all opportunities are fully explored.

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What Happens If Charges Are Dropped?

Getting charges dropped means that, at least for the time being, you won’t have to go to court to face them or the associated penalties that accompany them, such as time in jail or fines. If you are being detained awaiting the outcome of your case, you will be, and you must be, released.

However, because no decision has been made about the charges, the double jeopardy rules do not apply. A prosecutor has the right to bring the charges back against you in the future, for example, if new evidence is found. Therefore, you must keep in touch with your attorney after the charges are dropped and make every effort to keep a clean record.

Can Dropped Charges Be Reinstated?

Charges which have been dropped may be reinstated by the prosecutor following one of two pathways. Charges may be dropped either with prejudice or without prejudice. Charges that are dismissed with prejudice cannot be brought again. Learn more about the differences between charges dropped vs dismissed.

However, if they are dismissed without prejudice, they can be charged again. Even if dismissed without prejudice, charges can only be resurrected for the same crime if new evidence was not known when the original charges were brought.

How to Know If Charges Were Dropped

Discovering whether a charge has been dropped requires knowing how the criminal justice system works. This is because the prosecutor may drop criminal charges by receiving a “no bill” by the grand jury for felonies or by a motion to dismiss the prosecutor after the charges get past a grand jury.

The easiest way to see if charges were dropped is to communicate with either the criminal division of the courthouse where the charges were brought or with the prosecutor assigned to that courthouse or judicial district. Although this is public information, the conversation can be had most quickly and efficiently with the aid of competent counsel, someone who speaks with these individuals on a near-daily basis.

Also, if you aren’t sure if your charges have been dropped, it is ill-advised to call the authorities seeking to prosecute you on your own, as you could say something incriminating on the call while simply seeking information. Therefore, and for your peace of mind, it is always best to have a lawyer check for you to see if your charges have been dropped.

Get Your Charges Dropped with the Law Offices of Kretzer & Volberding

When you are trying to have criminal charges against you dropped, you will need Texas lawyers who possess the right resources and know-how to get charges dropped against someone. For the best criminal defense attorneys near you, contact attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding today via our website or by phone at 713-775-3050.

Phone: 713-775-3050
Fax: 713-929-2019
Houston, TX 77002
440 Louisiana, Suite 1440