What Are The Odds Of A Dismissal In A Criminal Case?

Posted on: 7 September 2022

Once the state has filed charges against a person, a criminal justice attorney will want to look for reasons to ask the court to dismiss the case. This is far from a guaranteed solution, but it's always on a lawyer's mind as they examine the charges against a client. What are the odds a criminal defense attorney can convince a judge to dismiss the case against you? These three factors will typically affect the likelihood of dismissal.

Investigative Quality

Most judges will be comfortable allowing a case to proceed for a while as long as the police and prosecutors have demonstrated some quality in their investigations. The court will want to know that the investigation has produced reasonable evidence that a crime occurred. Bear in mind that the prosecution doesn't have to meet the full burden of proof beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point. Instead, the DA's office only has to show that a reasonable person would believe there's a good chance that a crime happened and that the defendant was involved.

A judge will assess the quality of the investigation based on how the police have handled evidence, affidavits, witness interviews, and legal procedures. A criminal justice attorney will want to punch holes in the case at this point to undermine the court's confidence in the state's efforts. If the arresting officer's affidavit has inconsistencies or errors, for example, most lawyers will jump on that as grounds to request a dismissal.

Credible Claim of a Crime

It is one thing for the police to collect evidence and get statements about something happening. However, they also have to convince the court that the allegations credibly point to a possible crime.

Cops can and sometimes do bring sloppy cases and hope to bolster them after the fact, but a criminal defense assistance firm should try to torpedo these cases early. The police don't always back these cases up with evidence pointing to a defined crime. For example, the cops might charge a witness with obstruction of justice. Their lawyer in turn might note the lack of evidence for willful obstruction and ask the judge to dismiss the case.

Odds of Conviction

The court's time is valuable, and a judge will want proof that prosecuting someone is likely to be worth the bother. A criminal defense attorney may point to similar cases where the state failed to successfully prosecute people as evidence that this one will be wasteful, too. If it seems unlikely the state will prevail, the court may drop the charges.