If you were arrested after committing a criminal offense, having your charges dropped or dismissed is one of the most desirable outcomes that you can hope for. Criminal charges may be dismissed for several different reasons. For example, the prosecution may not have enough evidence to pursue the charge, or new evidence may prove that another individual committed the crime in question. If you or a family member was arrested in Philadelphia and wants to know about the possibility of having the charges dropped, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer right away for help. In this article, criminal attorney Lloyd Long explains why criminal charges would be dropped or dismissed in Pennsylvania.
How Are Criminal Cases Dismissed?
Criminal charges can be dropped or dismissed for a variety of reasons. The primary reason that a criminal charge is pursued is that the prosecution believes that they have a solid case. This likely means that they have concrete evidence of your guilt, as opposed to circumstantial and ambiguous evidence. However, if the charges against you are flimsy at best, the prosecutor or the arresting officer can drop the charges.
It is important to note that there is a difference between having your charges dropped and having your charges dismissed. In Pennsylvania, only a prosecutor or an arresting officer can drop charges against a suspect. This typically happens before any formal charges are filed with the court. Alternatively, if your charges were dismissed, it means that they were filed with the court beforehand. The prosecutor or a judge can dismiss charges if there is inadequate evidence to proceed with the case.
To learn more about how criminal charges are dismissed in Pennsylvania, you should speak with an attorney who handles the types of charges you are now facing, such as an assault lawyer, drug defense lawyer, or gun possession lawyer.
Common Reasons Why Criminal Charges Are Dropped
As stated above, prosecutors and arresting officers have the power to drop a criminal offense against an offender. The following is a list of reasons why a prosecutor or law enforcement officer may consider dropping your case.
Fourth Amendment Violations
Generally, the Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement from conducting a search without proper justification. If law enforcement does conduct a search without probable cause or a warrant, the illegally seized evidence cannot be used to prove an individual’s guilt. Sometimes, illegally seized evidence is the primary piece of evidence in a case – and if it is disqualified, the case will likely be dropped or dismissed.
There are strict procedures that law enforcement and the prosecution must follow, from the arrest of the suspect to their prosecution. For example, if a suspect is interrogated after asking for an attorney, this is a procedural and Sixth Amendment violation. If these protocols are not adhered to, the suspect may be able to have their charges dropped.
The amount of criminal cases that can arise in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas is staggering. Prosecutors in big cities often have to deal with multiple cases in the span of one day. This means that some prosecutors are more willing to drop charges for insignificant or summary offenses, such as disorderly conduct or a traffic offense. However, this also means that if you are charged with a more serious offense, you are more likely to go to trial.
Destroyed or Lost Evidence
Destroyed or lost evidence is a common reason why some cases are dropped. It is reasonable to think that lost evidence may mean someone may have misplaced an important document needed for your case.
Many people believe that it is possible for a victim to drop criminal charges against an offender. This is likely due to dramatized crime shows, which often depict scenarios where victims or witnesses are coerced into dropping criminal charges.
In fact, a victim does not have the authority to drop charges against an offender. As mentioned above, the discretion to file criminal charges lies with the prosecutor. However, once a victim wants to drop charges or refuses to cooperate, it will become increasingly difficult for the prosecutor to continue with the case efficiently. This is why some cases are sometimes dropped if a victim or witness is too uncooperative.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help if You Were Arrested
If you or a family member was arrested in Philadelphia, you should contact an experienced defense attorney right away. Arraignment lawyer Lloyd Long understands the stress associated with being charged with a crime, and is here to guide you through Pennsylvania’s criminal justice process while protecting your rights and fighting to have your case dismissed. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171, or contact us online.