Getting charges dropped is often one of the best outcomes you can get in a criminal case. Especially if your charges are dropped before trial, you can save yourself from facing the costs of going to court. Additionally, you can get released from pretrial confinement and avoid the terms of bail, getting your life back sooner. The Ventura, CA drug crime lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain how you can get drug charges dropped before trial in CA.
When Can Charges Get Dropped in Criminal Cases?
Any time you face criminal charges, the case may be “dropped” or “dismissed” at any point during the case. This means that you can get charges dropped before trial or even during trial.
Charges are “dropped” by the prosecutor or DA on your case. That means that it is typically up to the prosecutor’s discretion and the DA’s office’s policies as to what charges can be dropped, not laws or the judge’s decisions. If the prosecutor thinks they cannot prove the charges against you or they think that you may have been wrongly accused, they should drop the charges.
A prosecutor’s job is to ensure that justice is done, not to ensure they get a conviction. If an attorney for the State of California thinks the police may have arrested the wrong person, thinks the person charged was set up, or thinks that police violated their rights to get evidence against them, they can drop the case and avoid unjust charges.
A prosecutor can drop charges at any point in the trial process. This means they can drop the charges as soon as they come across their desk, during a pretrial hearing, during pretrial conferences, during trial preparation, or even during trial itself.
If the prosecutor waits until a jury is sworn in, dropping the charges becomes permanent. If the charges are dropped after a jury is empaneled, your right against “double jeopardy” prevents the prosecutor from refiling the charges. If they drop charges before that, they can always refile charges within the statute of limitations. Dropping and refiling charges may occur when police and prosecutors need additional evidence to use against you, but don’t want to leave the case pending and activate your “speedy trial” rights.
Is It Better to Have Charges Dropped or Dismissed for Drug Possession?
Getting charges dropped is not the only option in your case. Judges can “dismiss” charges they think are legally wrong, and a jury can “acquit” you of charges if they find you not guilty. These options may be more permanent than getting charges dropped, in some cases.
A judge can dismiss charges at any point in the process, and they can only be refiled in some cases. If the jury was already empaneled, the judge’s dismissal qualifies as an acquittal and the Double Jeopardy Clause prevents charges from being refiled.
However, even before the jury is selected, a judge can dismiss a case “with prejudice.” When this happens, the judge essentially refuses to accept the case being refiled, and the prosecution may be unable to bring charges back to court with additional evidence. This is usually reserved for situations where the judge finds the charges extremely unjust or sees evidence of police or prosecutorial corruption.
An acquittal is usually the strongest end to a case, since charges can never be refiled. However, getting an acquittal usually means taking your case all the way through trial and convincing a jury you are not guilty. This may be more expensive and would require a criminal defense lawyer throughout the entire trial process.
Getting your case dropped or dismissed early on may not be permanent, but it can save you on court fees, attorney’s fees, and the other expenses of going to trial. Moreover, your case ends sooner, meaning you can stop paying bail and return to your normal life if you were sent to jail while you await trial.
Why Would a Prosecutor Dismiss Drug Charges?
Drug charges are incredibly common criminal offenses. Many of these cases are low-level drug possession crimes, and the criminal justice system often rushes through these cases rather than placing low-level offenders in jail for minor possession crimes. This may be common for prescription drug possession charges.
Many possession charges are dropped as part of a “plea deal.” Your attorney may be able to work out an agreement with the prosecution where you will plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for having the drug charges dropped. This may be used in low-level offenses so that you can walk away with a minor citation on your record (e.g., disorderly conduct) instead of drug possession.
This is also common in high-level drug charges, where a prosecutor may offer a deal to plead to simple possession instead of possession with intent to deliver or drug trafficking charges.
If charges are dropped as part of an agreement, the plea deal is a contract that bars prosecutors from refiling the charges against you. You should always have an attorney review the agreement before accepting anything.
Ventura Drug Possession Lawyers Offering Free Legal Consultations
If you or your child was charged with drug crimes in Ventura or the surrounding area, call The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our Ventura criminal defense attorneys represent the accused and fight to have their charges dropped and dismissed. To schedule a free consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 585-5056.