Just because you have been charged with a crime does mean you are guaranteed to end up with a criminal record. Never assume your case is hopeless or a lost cause. Although an arrest can make you feel like there is no chance of reclaiming your life, it’s important to remember that prosecutors have the highest burden of proof in our justice system. At Mark Diaz & Associates, we pride ourselves on helping people minimize the charges against them. In many cases, we can even get them dismissed or withdrawn.
The Preliminary Hearing
When an individual is arrested, the judge must hold a preliminary hearing to determine if the charges against them can go forward. At this hearing, the judge looks at all the evidence put forth by the prosecution. At this stage, the prosecutor must show only that there is probably cause to prosecute the individual for a crime or crimes. The person charged also has an opportunity to present evidence showing he or she is not guilty. Some common reasons for dismissal of the charges include:
- An illegal arrest
- Mishandling of evidence
- Insufficient evidence
- Falsified evidence
If the judge decides there is not enough evidence for the case to go forward, the judge will order the charges withdrawn or dismissed.
Dismissal on Appeal
Although a significant number of dismissals happen before an individual has even gone past the preliminary hearing stage, some convictions are thrown out on appeal. For example, a person who was convicted for possession of drugs in his car can obtain a dismissal of the charges on appeal if he produces evidence showing that the police made an illegal traffic stop. Unlike a pre-conviction dismissal, a person whose conviction is dismissed on appeal is protected by the double jeopardy protection of the U.S. Constitution and cannot be prosecuted again for the same criminal offense.