What's The Difference: Dropped Charges vs. Dismissed Charges

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

People respond differently to being charged with a criminal offense. Some understand the gravity of a potential criminal record and prepare to prevent a conviction, while others run from their legal issues or ignore them in hopes that they go away. For a lucky few, there's a possibility that the latter can happen without going to trial. The only two ways to avoid a conviction is for your misdemeanor or felony charges to get either dropped or dismissed. Although it's good news (for the most part) if either of these things happens, it's important for defendants to understand the distinctions between the two and their implications.

Charges Dropped

Criminal charges are only filed by a prosecutor if they believe that they can make a viable case against you. This is strictly their belief and doesn't reflect the thoughts of a judge or jury. Nevertheless, they feel confident in the fact that they've found sufficient evidence against you that is convincing. If at any point throughout the course of the process, the prosecutor or an arresting officer feels that the case isn't strong enough to bring to court, the charges will be dropped altogether. It's important to note that the prosecuting party is the only one capable of doing so.

Although this is the most common reason for dropping charges, there are other reasons why they are dropped. They include:

  • The attorney of the prosecuting party is responsible for a lot of cases and has to decide to allocate their resources to a higher priority
  • The victim in which the case was built has decided not to cooperate
  • The defendant is willing to completely cooperate with the prosecutors to help
  • The defendant has decided to cooperate with prosecutors to help resolve other crimes

Charges Dismissed

If charges are dismissed, this means that the prosecuting party doesn't have enough evidence to meet the “clear and convincing” standard. A case can also be dismissed if the prosecutor has made a significant fundamental or procedural legal error during either the time of the arrest, booking, or interrogation period. It's important to note that dismissed charges remain on your criminal record, dropped charges do not.

Working with a skilled defense attorney will maximize your chances of the full protection of your rights and getting your case dismissed.

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

A significant part of being adequately prepared for your case entails seeking the help of an experienced attorney. A legal professional who defends criminal defense cases will know the ins and outs of the process and can get you on a course of action that ideally fits your needs. Our Criminal Law Team brings a wealth of experience to the table, as we've successfully handled numerous cases just like yours. But most importantly, our familiarity with the overall process can be a source of comfort for you in one of the most stressful times of your life. For more information about our representation or how we can help you, contact us online or by phone today at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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