Saturday, July 20, 2024

8 Signs Your Criminal Case Will Be Dismissed

Being charged with a crime in Texas can be an extremely stressful and uncertain time. As a defendant, you may be worried about the possibility of hefty fines or jail time. However, in some situations, criminal charges may be dismissed by the court before a case even goes to trial.

When criminal charges lack sufficient evidence or contain procedural errors, the case against you could potentially be dismissed. While a dismissal does not establish actual innocence, it closes the case without a guilty verdict or conviction on your criminal record. Knowing the signs that your Texas criminal case could be dismissed can provide some relief in this difficult time.

Understanding Case Dismissal in Texas

A case dismissal simply means that the case is formally closed by the court. There was no determination of guilt and no conviction of the defendant. However, even when a case is dismissed, it may still appear on the defendant’s criminal history.

Prosecutors in Texas have an ethical duty of candor towards the courts and the public. They also want to secure convictions in the cases they pursue. If a prosecutor detects weaknesses in their criminal case, they must either gather more evidence to support the charges or dismiss the case entirely.

Courts may also decide to dismiss charges against a defendant if:

  • The defendant’s actions did not violate any criminal laws
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove guilt
  • Police violated the defendant’s rights during their investigation

The prosecution can choose to drop a case without prejudice, meaning they are free to re-file the charges again later if they find new evidence.

Grounds for Dismissal of a Texas Criminal Case

Prosecutors in Texas are obligated to be transparent and seek justice for the public. Naturally, prosecutors also want to win cases. If a prosecutor believes their criminal case has flaws, they may seek to acquire additional evidence to maintain the case or dismiss it entirely.

The court may decide to dismiss the charges against a defendant if it determines that:

  • The defendant’s actions did not violate any criminal statute
  • There is insufficient evidence to establish the defendant’s guilt
  • Law enforcement violated the defendant’s rights during the investigation

The prosecution might drop a case without penalty if they believe they can find new evidence. To be clear, if charges are dropped “without prejudice,” the prosecution remains free to re-file the charges at any time.

8 Signs Your Texas Criminal Case Is Weak and Might Be Dismissed

Certain signs indicate a weak prosecution that could lead to the dismissal of a Texas criminal case before the trial begins. These include:

1. Illegally Obtained Evidence

Criminal cases reliant on evidence obtained illegally or dishonestly tend to be weak. All evidence presented in a Texas court must have been obtained lawfully and with proper authorization.

Unlawful searches are also grounds for dismissal. For example, police cannot randomly stop and search a vehicle without probable cause. If drugs were found, the resulting charges would still be dismissed.

Police require a warrant to search a suspect’s home or car, even with probable cause. Any evidence from a search without a warrant or probable cause is inadmissible.

2. Lack of Witnesses

A lack of witnesses is problematic for prosecutors since witness testimony is vital for proving criminal charges.

Without eyewitness testimony or scientific evidence connecting the defendant to the crime scene, the prosecution will struggle to prove their case.

3. Mistakes in the Criminal Complaint

A criminal complaint is the official record of an arrest by law enforcement. The signing officer swears under oath that the contents are completely factual. Even a sincere mistake on a Texas criminal complaint could undermine the entire case.

4. Pretrial Diversion

Subtle signs of a weak case may emerge, even though achieving justice remains possible. For example, defendants may be offered pretrial diversion for drug or alcohol charges in exchange for fulfilling certain prosecution conditions, after which the charges are dismissed.

5. Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest

Prosecutors cannot pursue formal charges without evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Probable cause for an arrest is essential. A criminal complaint must be dismissed if there is insufficient probable cause for its filing.

Probable cause depends on the unique circumstances of each case. Generally, it refers to a reasonable expectation by law enforcement, based on objective facts, that the arrestee committed a crime.

6. Clerical and Procedural Errors

Issues in the complaint or other clerical errors could also lead to dismissal. Certain details must be accurate, including the defendant’s name, residence, alleged offense location, and other key information.

While clerical errors may encourage dismissal, prosecutors can also choose to re-file charges later.

7. Violations of Defendant’s Rights

Any confessions obtained by coercion or evidence from illegal searches or arrests is inadmissible. Violations of the defendant’s rights could result in dismissal, but fresh evidence might allow re-filing of charges.

8. Illegal Stop or Search Leading to Charges

Police cannot randomly stop vehicles without reasonable suspicion of a crime. Similarly, searches require a warrant or probable cause.

With no warrant or probable cause, any evidence from illegal searches is inadmissible, which may prompt dismissal.

Why Courts and Prosecutors Dismiss Charges

Charges may be dismissed for the same reasons that warranted not filing them initially, such as weak evidence, unavailable witnesses, or illegal procurement of evidence/arrests.

Skilled criminal defense attorneys typically secure dismissals during pretrial negotiations by arguing the weak prospects of conviction. Prosecutors might counter with reduced charges. If no reduced charges are acceptable, the defense can argue that the case would not withstand trial.

Grand Jury and Case Dismissal

When a grand jury declines to indict due to insufficient evidence, it is called a dismissal. At that stage, prosecutors or the grand jury itself may drop the charges. Rather than waste resources on an unwinnable case, dismissal is preferable.

Importantly, grand jury dismissal is only possible before an indictment.

Life After a Texas Criminal Case Dismissal

After a dismissal, the defendant returned to regular life since there was no conviction. Re-arrest for the same charges is prohibited unless fresh evidence surfaces post-dismissal.

However, a dismissed case remains on record and could impact job applications, rentals, and licensing. Full record clearance requires an expungement petition with the county courthouse that handled the original case. A criminal justice attorney‘s assistance can help ensure proper expungement request filing and approval.

Work With a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re facing criminal charges in Texas, work with an experienced Texas federal criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office. They have the skills and knowledge to carefully examine the prosecution’s case for signs of weakness. Where appropriate, they can file motions to dismiss and aggressively defend your case at trial. Don’t wait and hope the case disappears—take action by contacting Whalen Law Office today.

Patch Sagan
the authorPatch Sagan