How Do Cases Get Dismissed?

A criminal conviction in Florida has life-long ramifications. You could lose access to housing, job opportunities, educational opportunities, your voting and gun ownership rights, and custody of your children. Non-citizens could lose their immigration status and be deported. Some of your civil rights may be restored to you through the Florida Board of Clemency, but a criminal conviction remains on your record for life. However, if your case is acquitted or dismissed, you may request that the record of your arrest be sealed or expunged from the public record. 

There are many reasons for a case to be dismissed, even if the evidence against you is compelling. If the offense is minor, and you have no previous records of arrests or convictions, a prosecutor may choose to dismiss the case against you, provided that you are not arrested again within a certain period of time. However, the prosecutor may refile the original charge if you are arrested again after the charges are dismissed—other reasons to dismiss include, due process violations, lack of evidence, and prosecutorial misconduct.

Due Process Violations

The state may not detain someone or confiscate their property without probable cause to suspect that a crime is taking place. For example, an officer who pulls a car over for speeding can search the car for drugs if they smell marijuana, but not because of a “legalize medical marijuana” bumper sticker on the vehicle. Many cases are dismissed because the defendant was detained unlawfully – either the officers did not have probable cause to arrest, did not obtain a search warrant, or the charge itself was unconstitutional. Once detained, the police are required to notify you of the charge(s) against you and your rights under the law. Denial of these is a violation of due process and may be grounds for dismissal.

Lack of Evidence

A prosecutor must be able to provide evidence that the accused is guilty of the charges against them. And they must provide any evidence to the defense, including a list of witnesses that the prosecution plans to have testify. If the prosecutor does not have this evidence, or your defense attorney can show that the evidence was gathered unlawfully, then the case may be dismissed. 

Prosecutorial Misconduct

Prosecutorial misconduct occurs when the prosecution interferes with the right of the accused to a fair trial. There are several ways that this can happen. A prosecutor might make public statements about the case before it goes to trial, resulting in a tainted jury pool. Prosecutors might also fail to identify a witness as an expert, or withhold exculpatory evidence, restricting your attorney’s ability to defend you. Some prosecutors may even attempt to intimidate the jury or defense witnesses. Evidence of any of these actions is grounds for a dismissal.

Everyone has the right to due process and a fair trial. If you believe that you have been wrongfully arrested in the Florida panhandle, you should immediately contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Pensacola to fight for your legal rights. They will study your case and determine if you were afforded all of your legal rights when you were arrested. They will work to get your case dismissed if there is any indication that you were arrested in an unlawful manner.

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