Can Charges be Dropped Before You Attend Court?

The criminal justice process has many steps, and many take place before you even attend court. While you might think that your case begins at your arraignment when the judge informs you of the charges against you, much can happen prior to the prosecutor filing charges. One thing that might happen is that the prosecutor drops your charges altogether before you ever see the inside of a courtroom.

Always remember that the criminal process starts with your arrest and charges are not a certainty just because you were arrested. After an arrest, always state that you are choosing to remain silent and contact a Plano criminal defense attorney. This might help your chances of having your case dropped before charges are formally filed against you. If the matter is a felony, there are ways to present evidence to a Collin County Grand Jury to try and get your case no-billed.

Dropped vs. Dismissed

Generally speaking, charges are dropped before the prosecutor ever files them, and charges are dismissed after they are filed. A prosecutor can dismiss charges during the process for various reasons, but this will happen after you already attend court for one or more hearings. Charges are sometimes dropped before you attend court, and this means that you never face formal criminal charges at all. It is beneficial to have a lawyer working with the prosecutor from the beginning to be able to take any and all steps to help keep a criminal case from being filed against you if possible.

Why Prosecutors Might Drop Cases

There are many reasons why a prosecutor might drop your case and decline to file charges following an arrest, including:

  • The victim or other key witnesses refuse to cooperate or change their stories
  • The police fail to obtain a confession from you and there is insufficient evidence to support the charges
  • The prosecutor learns that key evidence was illegally obtained, which means it likely would not hold up in court
  • The forensic lab made errors that rendered evidence unreliable
  • The prosecutor receives new information or forensic evidence that leads them in another direction

Filing Charges at a Later Date

Just because a prosecutor initially drops your case does not necessarily mean you are permanently in the clear. If the prosecutor later obtains additional evidence to support the charges, they can file them against you down the road. This can result in a warrant for your arrest or a summons being sent to your home.

Prosecutors do not have an unlimited amount of time to file most criminal charges, however. Just like any legal matter, the law sets out statutes of limitations for criminal charges. The prosecutor is prohibited from pursuing a case once the time limit expires for a particular charge. Your criminal defense attorney can inform you how long you might wait before you are sure you will not face criminal charges in your situation.

Learn How a Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Plano criminal defense attorney J. Michael Price helps clients from the moment of their arrest to start protecting their rights and defending their cases right away. If you are arrested, contact us online or call 214-765-8000 right away.

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