Why Would a Prosecutor Drop Criminal Charges?

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Colorado Springs Defense Attorney Using Lack of Evidence to Reduce or Drop Criminal Charges

Even if you have been charged with a crime, this does not mean that the prosecutor will take your case to trial. In some cases, the prosecutor may drop the criminal charges entirely, or drop them down to a lesser charge.

In a criminal proceeding, you are the defendant, and the prosecution is the plaintiff. If the plaintiff chooses to drop the case, it is based on prosecutorial discretion. In other words, the prosecutor decides if they want to drop the charges; the grounds for doing so can vary. Following are some of the most common reasons for dropping charges.

A Lack of Evidence

The most common reason why criminal charges may be dropped is a lack of proof. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Even with some minor evidence linking you to the offense, if that evidence is circumstantial or dismissed by the court, it may leave the prosecution with limited evidence for a conviction.

Prosecutors must provide enough evidence for the jury or judge to be certain that you are guilty. Without that much evidence, they are likely to drop the charges. This does not mean you are free for good; a prosecutor may drop with the intent of filing again later, after they have collected more evidence.

Lack of Resources

Prosecutors are often handed more cases per month than they can prosecute. They may have inadequate staffing or financial resources, which require them to drop minor cases and focus their resources on high priorities. If you are arrested for a minor crime, and prosecutors cannot convict you with exact certainty, they are likely to drop the charges due to insufficient resources.

You Are a First-Time Offender

Humans make mistakes, and prosecutors know that. When a prosecutor has limited resources, and the person is accused of a minor crime that offers little to no punishment, the prosecution may dismiss the charges for that first-time offender.

There are some criminal acts, however, that a prosecutor will pursue regardless of whether the person is a first-time offender or not. For example, driving while under the influence, domestic violence, or assault are not minor enough for a prosecutor to dismiss.

Lack of Witness or Victim Testimony

Again, prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the victim of the crime changes his or her mind and refuses to testify, or there are no witnesses to substantiate evidence, a prosecutor may not have enough evidence to construct a convincing case.

Defendant is Willing to Cooperate

If your case is minor and you are willing to cooperate with the prosecution of another case that offers a higher priority conviction, the prosecutor may drop your charges in return for your testimony in another case.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney

Even with minimal evidence or a lack of resources, there is no guarantee that your charges will be dropped. To increase this likelihood, have a skilled criminal defense attorney represent your case. A good attorney can help get evidence dismissed and weaken the prosecution’s case. In return, your charges might be dropped.

To explore your defense strategy and see what options are available to you, contact attorney Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. today by calling 719-577-9700 or request a consultation online.

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