Dismissing Criminal Charges: 7 Ways To End The Nightmare

Dismissing Criminal Charges

Dismissing Criminal Charges - Overview

Dismissing criminal charges is possible. It happens every day. Although it is possible, it is not easy. In essence, your criminal lawyer needs to succeed in one of two ways. First, your lawyer needs to persuade the prosecutor that he/she cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, a prosecutor needs to agree that dismissing criminal charges is in the best interest of justice.

The second way in which your criminal lawyer can succeed in dismissing criminal charges against you involves an application of the law. For example, if you’re facing drug charges & the police obtained the drug evidence in an illegal manner (like an illegal search), then we would be using the law to dismiss your criminal charges. The law says that the police cannot violate your 4th Amendment rights. If they do, then the law says that the evidence in your case cannot be used against you. It gets suppressed.

So, we will discuss 7 ways for dismissing criminal charges with helpful examples.

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What Are Your Options?

If we’re having a conversation about dismissing criminal charges, it is because you’re either facing misdemeanor or felony charges, or both. You’re facing criminal charges for the first time & you’re scared. We understand. Since the moment of your arrest, you’ve been declaring your innocence but cannot understand why dismissing criminal charges takes so long.

Each year millions of Americans share your frustration. Criminal cases seem to take forever & there has to be a way to end the nightmare. Before we get into the 7 approaches for dismissing criminal charges, let’s step back and look at your options.

Go To Trial

Option one involves taking your case to trial. A judge or jury will listen to evidence & either acquit you or find you guilty.

Accept a Plea Deal

Option two involves accepting a plea deal. Your criminal lawyer negotiated a deal with the prosecutor. This could involve pleading guilty to a downgraded charge or pleading guilty to some charges & in exchange, the prosecutor dismisses the remaining charges against you.

Take Advantage of a Diversionary Program

Option three involves getting admitted into a probationary program & upon successful completion, your charges get dismissed. Also, you will avoid getting a criminal conviction on your record.

Dismissing Criminal Charges

Option four involves dismissing criminal charges based on a legal violation or the prosecutor having weak evidence against you. Remember, even if the evidence against you is weak, the prosecutor has every right to go forward with prosecuting your case. As criminal lawyers, we exhaust all efforts to persuade the prosecutor that they can’t win at trial with the evidence they have. But in the end, each prosecutor has the final word on what he/she decides to do.

dismissing Criminal charges versus Dropping Criminal Charges

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s answer this question: “What’s the difference between dismissing criminal charges & dropping criminal charges?”  When a prosecutor decides to drop the charges against you, it typically involves the prosecutor’s independent review of law enforcement’s investigation & subsequent criminal complaint. A prosecutor will decide that law enforcement’s investigation is incomplete & will decide to drop the charge & perhaps file new charges at a later date.

On the other hand, dismissing criminal charges involves your criminal lawyer’s efforts to investigate your case & provide exculpatory evidence to the prosecutor. Exculpatory means that your lawyer can prove that you didn’t do what you are accused of.

For example, let’s say that you are facing aggravated assault charges. They accuse you of punching & breaking the victim’s jaw. Your lawyer gets a surveillance video from the bar which clearly shows that you were a bystander and not the aggressor. He gives this video to the prosecutor & the prosecutor agrees that in your case, dismissing criminal charges is the right thing to do.

1. no probable cause to arrest

In New Jersey & across the country, police need something called “probable cause” to arrest you. This is a basic fundamental right that is in our Constitution. In other words, law enforcement cannot arrest you & charge you with a crime just because they feel like it. The police have to have a reasonable belief that you committed a crime. The police officer’s reasonable belief must include objective, factual evidence, and circumstances.

For instance, a police officer cannot arrest you because he has a “hunch” or a “feeling” that you kind of look like a drug dealer. In this example, the police officer had no probable cause to arrest you. He cannot provide reasonable & objective evidence for arresting you. This is a situation where we would pursue dismissing criminal charges against you.

Conversely, if a police officer pulls you over for speeding & smells the strong odor of marijuana emanating from your vehicle when he approaches, then he has satisfied the probable cause requirement to arrest you.

2. Challenging the complaint

Criminal complaints need to contain certain information. Not every detail of your case needs to be listed in the complaint but certain information must be included. When important information is missing or incorrect this means that the complaint is defective.

Basic information includes:

  • Date of offense
  • Location
  • Criminal Statute (specific crime you’re accused of committing)
  • Pedigree information – your name, date of birth, address
  • A brief description of what you did

It doesn’t happen often, but a police officer may commit errors when filling out the complaint against you. For example, he might get your name & date of birth completely wrong. If this happens, we would pursue dismissing criminal charges. We file a motion before the court & ask the judge to dismiss the complaint.

Please be aware that if we succeed in getting your case dismissed, the prosecutor’s office can always correct the errors & refile the criminal charges against you. It may not seem like a victory because the prosecutor can refile, but we may be able to work out a good plea deal for you.

3. Illegal searches

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from illegal stops, searches, and seizures. This is the law of the land. Law enforcement can only stop you under certain circumstances.
As previously discussed, police need “probable cause” or a “reasonable belief” that you may have committed a crime.
The police can only search your person, your car, or your home if they have a search warrant. However, this is not always the case. there are situations where the police do not need a search. There is a long list of exceptions to the warrant requirement.

But let’s get back to dismissing criminal charges bases on an illegal search. Let’s say that the police arrest you for a DWI and at the time of your arrest, you are 20 miles away from your home. The police handcuff you and place you in the police car. They cannot use the DWI arrest as an excuse to now search your home. If they did search your home without a warrant and found CDS drugs, then we would pursue dismissing criminal charges against you because of an illegal search.

This is a very simple example but a very common one.

4. because the grand jury said so

After your arrest, the prosecution must present the case to a grand jury.  The role of the grand jury is to further protect your Constitutional rights. Grand jurors listen to the evidence that the police have against you & determine whether or not the police had probable cause to arrest you.

Grand jurors are made up of the people in your community. They listen to witness testimony and review the evidence underlying your arrest. They are not deciding guilt or innocence. Rather, they are deciding whether probable cause was established to believe that a crime may have been committed. If they believe so, then they approve the indictment against you. If they don’t believe that there’s probable cause for your arrest, they do not approve the indictment. 

Let’s assume that the grand jury approved the indictment against you. Dismissing criminal charges at this point involves your criminal lawyer’s review of how the prosecutor presented the evidence to the grand jury. Prosecutors & police witnesses are capable of making mistakes. If a mistake was made during the grand jury proceeding, we file a motion to dismiss the indictment based on this error. If the judge agrees with us, the indictment will get dismissed.

However, here’s another situation where the prosecutor can refile the indictment & correct the error previously committed. As in the previous example, as criminal lawyers, we would use the time before the prosecutor refiles the indictment to work out a plea deal.

5. insufficient evidence

Remember, your arrest is the starting point of your criminal case. Felony cases take months and sometimes years. A lot happens while your case is pending. As your criminal lawyers, we use this time to conduct our own investigation. We’ve learned that witnesses change their stories, witnesses cannot be located, the evidence is lost or destroyed, new witnesses appear, new DNA is discovered at the crime scene, and much more happens while your case is pending. 

Some of the things we do when we investigate involve:

  • locating & interviewing witnesses;
  • obtaining video/photo evidence;
  • working with forensic experts to challenge drug & DNA evidence;
  • reviewing documents, police reports, hospital records, cellphone records, internet records, email records

Once we collect and gather all of this evidence, we prepare & deliver to the prosecutor something called a “reciprocal discovery packet”. This package contains the results of your criminal lawyer’s investigation. The evidence in this package shows the prosecutor that the evidence against you is weak. For example, it may contain emails from multiple witnesses where they admit in the emails that they lied to the police. The emails destroy the credibility of the prosecutor’s key witness & dismissing criminal charges in your case is the only option at this point

We had a case where our client was accused of aggravated sexual assault. Through our extensive investigation, we learned that his accuser was less than truthful about many details provided to the police. Our reciprocal discovery packet contained all of this evidence & we were able to get our client’s charges dismissed.

A great example of exculpatory evidence is DNA evidence. Innocent men have been sitting on death row until DNA technology proved that another man had committed the heinous crime. All of these DNA cases involved dismissing criminal charges.

6. procedural issues

Police and prosecutors must follow strict legal criminal procedures.
Throughout your arrest, booking, and interrogation, they must follow the law. If the police violate your Constitutional rights, then these violations result in getting your criminal charges dismissed.
A common example is a Miranda violation. If you gave an incriminating statement without receiving a proper Miranda warning, then your statement may get suppressed. 

If the only piece of evidence against you is your own statement, then once this evidence gets suppressed, the prosecutor has no way to avoid dismissing criminal charges against you.

7. Lack of Resources

Let’s face it, prosecutors are busy people.
They have tons of cases. As a result, they are often forced to focus on their most serious cases.
Your criminal charges may get dismissed or dropped just because the prosecutor has bigger fish to fry.
The truth is that getting serious criminal charges dismissed is not common.
You are more likely to get a dismissal if you’re accused of a minor crime and you have no previous criminal record.

bonus Tip
If They Can't Get Dismissed, Try Getting Your Charges Downgraded

You may wonder about the possibility of downgrading a charge.  If the evidence against you is weak, then your lawyer can fight for a reduced charge.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. The case is resolved and your nightmare is over. A felony charge can be downgraded to a misdemeanor charge.  If this happens, jail is no longer an option. You may pay a fine and get a blemish on your record.  But you will be relieved that the case is over.

Of course, our priority is to get your criminal charges dismissed but a reduced charge can also be a good result. In exchange for a guilty plea to a reduced charge, a prosecutor may offer a “plea bargain agreement.” This occurs when a prosecutor agrees to dismiss the original criminal charge. You will have to agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge instead.

Final Thoughts

We outlined 7 ways that you can fight to get your criminal charges dismissed. Each case is different and the method we use for dismissing criminal charges will vary according to the facts of your case.

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

Our Practice Areas

Below you will find some but not all of our practice areas. Of course, if you do not see your criminal charges listed, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We will meet with you to discuss your case & to answer all of your legal concerns. Se habla español tambien!

Areas We Serve

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
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Based on 155 reviews
Gloria Brown
Gloria Brown
20:40 13 Sep 21
I spoke with Samira and she is the best. I can't think her enough for her time and understanding. I was so lost about this case thats hurting me and my family. I truly thank her not many will explain nor take the time without a fee. Samira if you ever become an attorney... You Are Hired 👊👍 I thank this firm for having a great person on their team.
Raul Yas
Raul Yas
18:24 07 Sep 21
Alan was incredible in helping me interpret and understand a real estate related business agreement that required my attention. I simply could not have done it with out him. The service was very speedy and attentive. I highly recommend Peyrouton Law for your legal needs.
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Johanna Mejia
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Stephen Hanley
Stephen Hanley
15:24 03 Aug 21
I spoke with a wonderful woman named Samira she was extremely informative. Handled the matter I called her about professionally and quick. She quoted me a very reasonable price for the work their firm would have to do. I would recommend this law office for anyone looking for a good lawyer.
Daniel Tirado
Daniel Tirado
00:51 27 Jun 21
I am just so appreciative Peyrouton Law was able to help me through this tough time. I Am extremely satisfied and would definitely recommend them to anyone stuck in this same situation.
Randezja Williams
Randezja Williams
16:28 12 Jun 21
Hands down the best team out there. Phenomenal lawyer, paralegal and law firm. I knew from my consult that I wanted attorney Alan Peyrouton to represent me. Not only did we discuss my case, we shared personal stories and he actually took the time to get to know me as a person. Alan and Samera are both so down to earth, compassionate, knowledgeable, understanding and truly amazing people. I am beyond satisfied and grateful with the outcome of my case. My current job and future employments were saved because he was able to get my aggravated assault charge knocked down to a noise ordinance. I highly recommend to anyone who may need a lawyer. You can tell he genuinely loves his job and wants the best for his clients. Amazing services and reasonable pricing, guaranteed you will never find a team like them. Thank you so much attorney Alan and Samera.
Jose Akamacho23
Jose Akamacho23
09:34 04 Jun 21
Samera is by far the best woman for the job. Almost immediately as I called the office she handled it very efficient and got the job done. I recommend for any tickets you have. She is very responsive and has the answers to any question you have, just in general a woman of her word and a great person overall! The process was very patient and well done.
chris conforti
chris conforti
21:29 01 Jun 21
Samera pays attention to every detail regarding your case. She was very responsive and always there with the answers to any questions you may have. Alan was very professional and knowledgeable about all aspects in regards to my simple assault case. He was always responsive to phone calls and had all the right answers. Case was dismissed in court!
Janiya Fernandez
Janiya Fernandez
22:43 25 May 21
During one of the hardest experiences of my family's lives I couldn't imagine having such a beautiful supportive team to handle our case! They went above and beyond. Sat on the phone and supported me in my most vulnerable moments and that's something you can't put a price on. We thank them so much!
Chris Bombolevicz
Chris Bombolevicz
12:47 06 May 21
The Peyrouton Law office has been exceedingly helpful and diligent over this past year. Would gladly recommend for anyone seeking legal assistance.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.