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What Happens When Your Charges Are Dropped?

October 27, 2023

If you are accused of a crime in the state of Arizona, and subsequently charged, there is no way to avoid some type of legal action. However, not every charge that is brought to court will be followed through. In some cases, the prosecution can decide to drop the charges against the defendant. This goes for both felony and misdemeanor cases in Arizona. There is the potential for the prosecution to drop your charges before, during, or after the filing of your case. Janet Altschuler, your trusted criminal defense attorney in Tucson, is here to explain what happens when your criminal charges are dropped. 

When Charges Are Dropped by The Prosecution

While charges aren’t always dropped, it is certainly a possible outcome for many reasons. In order to prosecute you, the opposition must have enough evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many times when the prosecution will bring up a case, only for it to be dismissed because of a lack of evidence. Charges could be dropped because what evidence the prosecution does have was obtained illegally, for example via an unlawful search and seizure. There are also situations where new evidence comes to light that exonerates you. Finally, your charges could be dropped if you are able to come to a deal or plea bargain with the prosecution. This could mean you’ll have to assist in other cases or serve as a witness for other trials. 

If your charges are dropped by the prosecution, you are freed from any further obligations. This means the case won’t go to trial, you won’t face any consequences or penalties, and you will not have to appear in court to fight the charges. The prosecution agrees to not pursue the charges in the future. You can also be released from custody when your charges are dropped. 

When Charges Are Dropped by The Alleged Victim

While the prosecution may drop the charges, it is also possible for the alleged victim to drop the charges. There are many reasons this could occur. Essentially, it means that the alleged victim does not wish to participate in the case. Whether this is because they fear repercussions from the accused, they know the accused personally and don’t want to ruin a relationship, or they do not want to participate in a trial, the result is the same as the prosecution dropping the charges—with a few notable exceptions. 

If the victim drops the charges, the prosecution may attempt to prove that you convinced them to do so through threat of force or another negative consequence. Coercing or pressuring someone to drop the charges against you is a crime in and of itself, and the prosecution could file new charges against you for this offense. That’s why it’s essential to avoid any situations or actions that could imply your guilt. 

In addition, if the victim drops the charges against you, it is possible that the charges could be brought against you again sometime in the future. This could happen if the court is convinced that, given more time, the prosecution could come up with more evidence against you. If this happens, the case will begin again, and you will once again have to stand trial. 

The Difference Between Dropped & Dismissed Charges

In the field of law, it is possible for charges to be either dismissed or dropped. It’s important to note that these types of charges are not the same thing, even though they both mean that you will no longer be prosecuted. 

A dropped charge refers to a case that the prosecution has decided to abandon. By contrast, a dismissed charge means that the presiding judge made the decision to halt the case, and this can only happen after the claim has been filed. The judge can dismiss the case with or without prejudice. Dismissing a case with prejudice means that the prosecution cannot pursue the charge again with the same claims. Without prejudice means that the claim can in fact be reinstated. 

Contact Janet Altschuler Today to Build Your Defense 

With over 20 years of experience practicing law in the Tucson area, Janet Altschuler is committed to fighting for your rights. If you have been accused of a crime, do not hesitate to get in touch with her and begin planning your first steps. Ms. Altschuler has worked on both sides of the courtroom as a former prosecutor, so she will bring a wealth of expertise to your case. Contact her office today to schedule your free consultation.

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