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When and How Can Criminal Charges Be Dropped?

Just because you have been charged in a court case does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial. You could reach a plea bargain agreement with the prosecutor, or the prosecutor could decide to drop your charges completely.

Only a prosecutor can seek to drop your charges. The alleged victim in your case may decide to withdraw his or her participation in the case and even request for the charges against you to be dropped, but in the end it’s up to the prosecutor whether that will actually happen.

There are a few common reasons why victims could request charges to be dropped. They might be afraid of the person they accused of a crime. They could love the accused person and want to preserve their relationship, an element common in domestic abuse cases. In each of these scenarios, prosecutors will be hesitant to drop charges, even if the victim requests it. In other cases, victims could decide they did not identify the correct person.

Prosecutors tend to drop criminal charges for different reasons, including:

  • New witnesses came forward to refute the stories presented by previous witnesses
  • The defense gathered enough evidence to convince a jury
  • New evidence proved the accused person was actually innocent
  • The best evidence available to the prosecution was ruled inadmissible in court, possibly because it was not obtained with a valid search warrant
  • The prosecutor and the defense reached an agreement on a guilty plea for lesser charges

For more information on the processes involved in criminal proceedings, meet with experienced Reading defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.

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