What Happens When a Case Is Dismissed?

Having a case dismissed terminates the lawsuit against you as a criminal suspect (defendant) in Arizona. Case dismissal means that the criminal charges against you have been dropped – sometimes even before the case goes to court. Getting your case dismissed requires assistance from an experienced defense lawyer. It is important to have it dismissed properly to avoid someone reopening the case in the future.

What Does it Mean to Have Your Case Dismissed?  

If a judge, prosecutor, district attorney, jury or another party dismisses a criminal case, it means that the case has been officially closed with no conviction or finding of guilt. While this does not prove that the defendant is innocent, it does protect the defendant from being sentenced and facing penalties for the crime in question. 

A dismissed case will still be entered onto the defendant’s criminal record, however, and could be reopened in the future depending on the circumstances. If you are facing criminal charges in Arizona but your case gets dismissed, you are free to go until and unless someone reopens the case. 

Types of Dismissed Cases

There are many different types of case dismissals in the State of Arizona. Several different rules and statutes may allow a case to be dismissed. The party that dismisses the case, as well as the reason for the discharge, can determine the type of dismissal. It is important to know your type of dismissed case, as this will help you understand key facts such as whether or not your case can be reopened. Several options for case dismissal in Arizona exist:

  • Voluntary dismissal. Voluntary dismissal means that the county prosecutor or district attorney has voluntarily closed the case. If the district attorney learns new information that clears the defendant as a suspect, for example, he or she may voluntarily dismiss the case.
  • Involuntary dismissal. An involuntary case dismissal comes from a judge. It means that a judge has decided to dismiss the case against the wishes of the prosecutor or district attorney. This may happen due to a lack of evidence or breach of protocol.

  • Dismissed with prejudice. A case that is dismissed with prejudice means that after the case is closed, no other lawsuit can be filed for the same reason. A judge has ruled that the case is resolved and has eliminated the option to file a new claim.

  • Dismissed without prejudice. If a case is dismissed without prejudice, it means that the charges have been dismissed but other lawsuits may still be filed on the same claim. A case may be dismissed without prejudice if the issue has been only partly resolved.
  • Dismissed for want of prosecution. This type of case dismissal comes when a criminal case has been on the court docket for a long time with neither party actively pursuing the case. Either party may file a motion to reopen the case after this type of dismissal, in most states.
  • Straight dismissal. A straight dismissal comes from a defense attorney demonstrating that the arresting police officer violated a rule or the civil rights of the suspect, and that this makes certain evidence inadmissible. Insufficient evidence can result in straight dismissal by the prosecution.
  • Grand jury dismissal. At the grand jury level, a criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecution that a case for an alleged felony crime is without merit. This could lead to the prosecutor dismissing the case or the jury refusing to indict. This type of dismissal is only possible, however, with a felony case and if the defendant hires an attorney before going to trial.

No criminal defense lawyer can guarantee case dismissal. There are circumstances, however, where this may be a possibility. For an honest and straightforward review of you or a loved one’s criminal case, contact The Law Offices of John Phebus for a free consultation. We can let you know if case dismissal is a realistic possibility and prepare your defense to achieve the best possible outcome.