Dropped And Reduced Charges, Dismissals, And Acquittals: What Are The Differences?
Anyone who is facing criminal charges in Texas should understand the differences in types of terminology used to mean that you are no longer facing charges. Sometimes you will hear about charges getting “dropped,” and sometimes you will hear about a case getting “dismissed.” In some circumstances, the charges will be “reduced.” You might also be wondering about how acquittals are related to these terms. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can provide you with more information about these terms and how they could ultimately apply to your case.
Prosecutors Drop Charges
Criminal charges can be dropped for a variety of reasons, and this will be done by the prosecutor. In some cases, the prosecutor will drop a charge because there is not enough evidence against the defendant. Or, in some cases, the prosecution might lose a witness in a case. Having a charge dropped does not mean that you are in the clear. The prosecutor might want to build a stronger case before bringing filing charges, and thus the prosecutor might drop a charge until the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to file criminal charges and potentially get a conviction.
Cases Get Dismissed After Charges Have Been Formally Filed
Having a case dismissed is more formal than having a charge dropped. The prosecutor or the judge can dismiss a case due to a procedural issue, or a constitutional violation, for example. Cases can often be dismissed for many of the same reasons that charges are dropped earlier on. A case can be dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the prosecutor can file charges again, or with prejudice, which means the prosecutor cannot reopen the case.
Prosecutors Can Agree to Reduce Charges in Exchange for a Guilty Plea
When charges are reduced, this means that the prosecutor has agreed to a lesser offense, usually in exchange for a guilty plea. For example, if a person is facing a first-time DWI, the prosecutor might agree to reduce the charge to a traffic offense if the defendant agrees to plead guilty. When charges are reduced, the defendant will still be guilty of a particular offense, but that offense is less serious than the original one for which the defendant was facing charges.
Acquittal Refers to a “Not Guilty” Verdict
If you are acquitted, or you get an acquittal, it means a “not guilty” verdict has been returned in your case. An acquittal means that the prosecution did not prove the case against you. Once you are acquitted, you cannot face charges again for the same offense under the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment.
Contact a Temple Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing any type of criminal charges in Texas or if you have been arrested, it is essential to seek help from a lawyer with your defense. One of our Temple criminal defense lawyers can speak with you today about your case and can discuss options for developing a defense strategy. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney at The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC to learn more about the criminal defense services we provide in Texas.