Beating the Case: How to Get Charges Dropped or Dismissed in HoustonPublished: Jan 26, 2024 in Criminal Defense
Being arrested is scary, and dealing with criminal charges in Texas is serious. But just because you were charged with a crime does not guarantee you’ll be convicted.
Police frequently make arrests based on the evidence at the time and their judgment. But both can be wrong – leading to overcharging and wrongful arrest. Other times, legal errors can weaken the case against you, allowing the entire case to be dismissed, dropped, or drastically reduced.
So, no matter the charge, do not unquestioningly accept a conviction because you think the matter is open and shut. There is a lot you and an experienced defense lawyer can do to help.
What’s the Significance of Getting Charges Dropped or Dismissed?
Having criminal charges dropped or dismissed prevents them from appearing on your criminal record. This saves you from the long-term consequences that can affect your employment, education, and reputation. It also spares you from the substantial costs and time burdens that come with lengthy legal proceedings and the stress and emotional toll associated with criminal trials.
A dismissal or dropped charge maintains your freedom, protects your future legal standing, and provides significant mental and emotional relief.
Suppose you’re a college student studying to become a teacher and are falsely accused of Theft. If your case results in a conviction, the consequences could be far-reaching. A criminal record could prevent you from obtaining a teaching license, which would torpedo your career plans. Additionally, the time and money spent on legal defense could strain your financial resources.
But, if the charges against you are dropped or dismissed, possibly due to insufficient evidence or a successful defense strategy, you could avoid the trappings of a criminal record. This would preserve your possible career aspirations, protect your reputation, and reduce the stress and financial burden of dealing with criminal charges.
The Difference Between a Dismissal & Dropping Charges
In Texas, the terms “dismissed” and “dropped” charges have distinct legal meanings when it comes to criminal cases:
Dropped Criminal Charges
- Charges can be dropped before or after they are formally filed.
- The decision to drop charges is usually made during the investigation or pre-trial proceedings.
- Charges are typically dropped by the prosecutor, not a judge.
- This is when a judge officially ends the case.
- Dismissal can happen at any point but only after they are filed, including during the trial.
- Reasons for dismissal can include procedural errors (like improper evidence collection or violation of rights), lack of evidence, or issues with the credibility of witnesses.
- A dismissal can be “with prejudice,” meaning the case is permanently closed and cannot be refiled, or “without prejudice,” allowing the prosecutor the option to refile charges in the future if new evidence emerges.
The Grounds for Dropping Charges in TX
Charges can be dropped for various reasons, but it primarily happens when the prosecutor believes the case is too weak to move forward or when they are unlikely to secure a conviction.
Here are common reasons criminal charges are dropped in Texas:
- Insufficient Evidence: If there isn’t enough reliable or admissible evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense can argue to dismiss the charges.
- Violation of Your Rights: If law enforcement officials violate the defendant’s rights during arrest, search, or interrogation, any evidence obtained might be excluded, potentially leading to case dismissal.
- Mitigating Circumstances: Factors like self-defense, entrapment, or mental incapacity might support reducing or dropping charges. Defense attorneys can negotiate these factors with the prosecution.
- Witness Credibility: Questioning the reliability of prosecution witnesses can weaken their case, possibly resulting in dropped charges.
- Prosecutor Discretion: Prosecutors may drop charges if they feel a conviction is unlikely, in the interest of justice, especially in cases where penalties seem too harsh, or the defendant has no criminal history.
- Plea Bargains: Charges may be dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense.
- Diversion Program Completion: Completing programs like drug treatment may lead to charges being dropped.
- Invalid Arrest Warrant: Charges can be dropped if the arrest warrant is invalidated due to errors or incorrect information.
How a Lawyer Helps Get Charges Dropped
If you’ve been accused of a crime and are seeking ways to have your charges dropped, it’s essential to understand that the Texas justice system is complicated, and your best option is to work with an experienced defense lawyer. Your attorney is trained in the nuances of the law and can better identify ways to have your case dropped.
Lawyers get criminal charges dropped by:
- Analyzing Your Case: Your lawyer will meticulously review the facts of your case, examining the evidence against you and identifying any weaknesses or inconsistencies.
- Challenging the Evidence: If there are flaws in the evidence, such as improper handling or collection, your lawyer can file motions to exclude this evidence. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Protecting Your Rights: An attorney ensures that your constitutional rights were not violated during the arrest or investigation. If rights violations are found, this can lead to charges being dropped.
- Negotiating with Prosecutors: Your lawyer can deal with the prosecution to potentially have your charges reduced or dismissed, especially if there are mitigating circumstances or the evidence against you is not strong.
- Exploring Defense Strategies: Depending on your case, various defenses might apply, such as self-defense, mistaken identity, or lack of intent. Your attorney will develop a defense strategy tailored to your situation. If your defense is compelling enough, the prosecutor may drop the charges.
- Facilitating a Plea: In some cases, the best course of action might be to negotiate a plea agreement, where you plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for the more serious charges being dropped.
- Advising on Diversion Programs: If applicable, your lawyer can guide you through diversion programs that, once completed, can result in the dropping of charges.
When are Criminal Charges Dismissed in TX?
Whereas dropped charges usually indicate a prosecutorial decision, dismissed charges frequently reflect a judicial decision about your case.
In Texas, criminal charges are dismissed when a judge determines there is a legal reason not to proceed. This can happen when:
- There is insufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s case or prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- There are procedural errors, such as mistakes in the arrest or charging documents.
- Your constitutional rights were violated during the investigation, such as improper searches or failure to read Miranda rights.
- Pretrial defense motions lead a judge to rule that the case cannot continue.
- The evidence central to the prosecution’s case is found to be inadmissible.
- There is evidence of prosecutorial misconduct affecting the case’s integrity.
- You completed a pretrial diversion program, when applicable, which can result in dismissal of charges.
- A plea agreement has been reached where a lesser charge is accepted to dismiss more serious charges.
The Role of a Lawyer in Getting a Dismissal
Even if you were not able to convince the prosecutor that your criminal charges should be dropped, a capable defense lawyer could help facilitate a dismissal in Texas by uncovering evidence that weakens the case, challenging the admissibility of specific evidence, negotiating a plea, and advocating for alternatives that, once completed, may result in dismissal.
An attorney also ensures that proper legal procedures are followed and your constitutional rights are upheld since any violations or prosecutorial misconduct can be leveraged to dismiss the case.
Can Charges be Dismissed or Dropped at Arraignment?
Charges may be dismissed or dropped during your initial arrangement under a few circumstances. For instance, a judge may dismiss a case if they feel a serious discrepancy or constitutional violation occurred. And a prosecutor may also drop charges if they fail to present enough evidence.
What Happens After My Charges Are Dropped or Dismissed?
When charges are dropped or dismissed, you are no longer subject to prosecution for the allegations in question. Yet, you may still face other legal consequences based on the circumstance, like the possibility of future charges being filed or the impact of accepting a plea to lesser charges.
What Happens if Charges Are Not Dropped or Dismissed?
Should your charges remain, the criminal case against you moves on to trial. But remember, the burden is on the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You should work with your lawyer to build a solid defense.
Contact Ned Barnett About Getting Charges Dropped or Dismissed
You’re probably worried if you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, and rightfully so. But being charged is not the same as being convicted. You may be able to get the charges dismissed or dropped, but you’ll need help.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 as soon as possible for a free and confidential case evaluation.
As a former prosecutor and experienced Houston defense attorney, Ned Barnett knows what it takes to secure favorable results that let you move on with life after being charged with a crime. Attorney Barnett is a fierce advocate for the accused and a careful strategist for every client. Let us review what happened, advise you, and fight for you.