Criminal Law is not “As Seen on TV!” Criminal trials on TV or in the movies are often inaccurately represented and highly sensationalized. If you are facing criminal charges, there may never be a trail that actually leads to you. In fact, in 2017, a total of 10,715 criminal charges were dismissed (6.1%) in the state of Pennsylvania.
Why were the charges dismissed? Before a criminal case goes to trial, it must pass a preliminary hearing. During this hearing, the prosecution must prove that they have the ability to build a case. Criminal charges can be dropped by the prosecutor or judge due to:
The Introduction of New Evidence
Inadmissible or Lost Evidence
1. Introduction of New Evidence
If you are facing criminal charges, the introduction of new evidence can work in your favor. If newly submitted evidence proves your innocence, the criminal charges will be dropped. Prosecutors don’t waste time on cases where the evidence works against them.
Evidence that can get a case dismissed includes:
Security video footage
Phone or computer records
It’s up to the prosecutor to gather evidence to build an ironclad case and not all proof works in their favor.
2. Insufficient Resources
For some first-time non-violent offenders, there are situations where prosecutors choose to drop criminal charges. Why? Many prosecutors don’t have the resources to take every case to trial. If you are facing misdemeanor charges and the prosecutor needs to focus on a felony case, your charges could ultimately be dropped.
3. Inadmissible or Lost Evidence
The one thing that courtroom dramas do get right is that you are innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors build their case on evidence collected during the criminal investigation. There are several reasons why problems with evidence can lead to a dismissal, such as:
A key witness refuses to testify
Evidence is lost or destroyed
Documents are proven to be fake or signatures forged
If a prosecutor doesn’t have the evidence to prove you committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” there’s no choice except to dismiss the case.
Please Note: Victims Cannot Drop Criminal Charges
Contrary to popular belief, victims cannot “drop the charges.” While it makes for a dramatic on-screen moment, criminal charges are only dismissed under certain circumstances. Victims report a crime and prosecutors file charges. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, it’s important to remember that an arrest doesn’t always result in prosecution.