4 Signs Your Case Will Be Dismissed (And the Trick Lawyers Use To Find Out)

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Criminal Records | June 20, 2024

Man scratching his chin contemplates signs your case will be dismissed while looking at a large court case document that has been dismissed and officially sealed from the court building on the right.

When facing criminal charges, one of the best possible outcomes is the case simply getting dropped, knowing the signs your case will be dismissed can help ease your mind.

However, trying to figure out if your case will be dismissed can be tricky, because state criminal statutes vary, unless you use the ‘lawyer’s trick’ and run a background check on yourself immediately.

First, discover the extent of the charges, then you’ll be able to identify if your case will be dismissed.

Knowing the 4 signs to look for as well as knowing the trick that lawyers use to find out can give individuals a pretty good idea of how the proceedings will go.

Signs Your Case Will Be Dismissed: On What Grounds Can a Criminal Case Be Dismissed?

The exact grounds for a criminal case to be dismissed vary greatly and will depend on the unique circumstances of the case and the state where the charges are filed. Early on in the process, an attorney will likely first look to get the case dismissed before proceeding any further since this is usually the best possible outcome for anyone facing criminal charges.

This is where the attorney will examine the signs your case will be dismissed or if the prosecution has a strong case.

Although the possibilities are limited only by a lawyer’s imagination at times, there are at least 4 common reasons for a case to be dismissed that most lawyers will investigate first.

#1. Wrong Information on Police Report

Incorrect information being present on a police report will be one of the first things that can be examined to get a case dismissed. Something like the wrong car being mentioned, inconsistencies in the police timeline, or a name getting mixed up are all possible grounds for dismissal. Anything that is incorrect on the police report can cause the police report to be seen as unreliable, often destroying the prosecution’s entire case.

#2. Victim Lied on Police Report

If it is clear that a victim lied on a police report, then there is cause for the legitimacy of the entire case to come into question. Think of something like a car accident where someone claims the person in front of them stopped too suddenly for them to react, even though they were paying attention. If it was later revealed that this individual was texting, then it would be cause for their statement to be thrown out.

The same is true for more extreme criminal cases. Oftentimes the victim’s statement will be the primary catalyst in bringing charges against an individual so if they lied the entire case will collapse.

#3. Lack of Evidence in Criminal Cases

Lack of evidence is another extremely common cause for criminal cases being dismissed. Sometimes charges will be brought against someone due to witness statements or circumstantial evidence.

In this case, the defense attorney may make a case to the judge that there is not enough evidence to accuse someone of a crime or that a crime took place at all.

#4. Case Thrown Out on Technicalities

In some cases, a case may be thrown out on technicalities, even if there is significant evidence against the defendant. One of the most common technicalities would be an improper arrest, such as the arresting officer failing to read the accused their Miranda rights.

Another possibility is the police report getting basic facts wrong such as the individual’s name getting confused or even being misspelled.

What Are Signs Your Case Will Be Dismissed?

Individuals should always consult with a lawyer when being charged with a crime. However, many individuals will want to know their chances both in any potential trials as well as the possibility of their case being dismissed. Individuals in this situation should look out for these additional signs their case will be dismissed.

Additional Signs That a Criminal Case Is Weak

  1. Illegal Arrest – Indicates the police are struggling to come up with a specific crime to charge the individual with.
  2. Lack of evidence – Although law enforcement tends to keep as much secret as possible early on in the criminal process, it can sometimes be obvious that they have little evidence in a case.
  3. Illegally acquired evidence – An illegal search may indicate that the police are desperately trying to find evidence in order to charge someone with a crime or to at least get them into custody.
  4. Lack of Witnesses- Most police cases are built on witness statements and then collaborated with physical evidence. Physical evidence alone makes many cases difficult to prosecute.
  5. Inconsistencies – Sometimes there will be inconsistencies between police reports and witness testimony. This can be a sign that the prosecution is “reaching,” to accuse an individual of a crime by jumping to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

On What Grounds Can a Case Be Dismissed?

In order to determine the likelihood of a case getting dismissed, individuals should first understand why cases are dismissed in the first place.2 Cases can be dropped for all sorts of reasons that will depend on the type of charges being brought and the unique circumstances of the supposed crime.

In general, a case is dropped because of circumstances that would make it difficult for the prosecutor to convict the individual. This can be due to improper procedures, individuals lying to police about the events of the crime, and, most often, a weak case making it difficult to prosecute. The specific reasons that a case is dropped will be discussed further down.

How Long Does It Take for a Case To Be Dropped?

With the legal process being as complex and intimidating as it is, many individuals will also be unsure of what to expect when it comes to a case getting dropped and what happens next. Although there can be a fair amount of variance and small things that interrupt the process, the general procedure is as follows.

After a crime has supposedly been committed an individual will be charged with the crime and a preliminary or arraignment hearing will be set. This hearing will take place in front of a judge and will simply serve as the accused response to the accusations. Normally this will include a judge reading out the charges and the individual will be able to plead guilty or not guilty.

Should the individual plead guilty, this will serve as a confession to the crime and the punishment for the crime will be determined. If the individual pleads not guilty the case will proceed to trial in front of a jury where the prosecutor and the defense attorney will display the case before a judge and jury who will make the decision of guilt.

Some individuals will wonder, do charges get dismissed at arraignment? A case can be dropped at any point in the process, however, in most cases, the case will be dropped early on, often before or during the arraignment hearing. If a case gets all the way to the trial phase, it is unlikely that it will be dropped unless something extraordinary happens like new evidence coming to light.

Once a case is dropped, the criminal proceedings are over. The individual is free to go and they are officially absolved of any potential wrongdoing.

Can a Judge Dismiss a Case Before Trial?

Many individuals will be confused about when a case will be dismissed or dropped. Generally, this will be fairly early on in the process as most of the possible reasons for a case to be dismissed will deal with information that is revealed early on in the process. Almost all cases that are dismissed will be dismissed before trial.

Can a Case Be Dismissed After Pleading Guilty?

Although extremely rare, it is possible for a judge to dismiss a case after the defendant has pleaded guilty. This will often involve extreme circumstances such as intimidation to force an individual to plead guilty or planted evidence.

Some states, such as Colorado,1 allow individuals to plead guilty and complete the terms of a deferred sentence. Even though the individual pleaded guilty, in this case, if they were able to complete the terms of this different sentence, the case will then be dropped.

What Are Signs That a Criminal Case Is Strong?

Although law enforcement tries to keep as much information they have about a case a secret there are still several things to look for that may indicate that there is a strong criminal case against an individual.

Most of the signs that the prosecutor has a strong case will likely be realized by the individual’s lawyer. Since most prosecutors want to avoid trial whenever possible, one of the biggest indicators is the plea deal that is offered.

Although it can be difficult to tell with any certainty, a lawyer will be aware of what is typical for the specific crime in question and determine if the case is especially strong based on the deal offered.

What if There Is No Plea Deal Offered?

It is incredibly rare for no plea deal offered, however, it is technically a possibility. If there is no plea deal offered or if the plea deal is rejected by a judge, the case will proceed to trial.

What Are the Chances of Winning a Criminal Trial?

The chances of winning a criminal trial are essentially 50/50 no matter the circumstances. This is the main reason that nearly all lawyers want to avoid trial whenever possible.

Whilst even a bad plea deal can be seen as a draw between the defense and the prosecution, the trial puts the defendant’s fate in the hands of a jury. This can be an extremely tricky situation as even the most clear-cut cases can suddenly seem shaky when shown in a courtroom.

Oftentimes a lawyer will prefer trial if they think they have a strong enough case and they are unhappy with the plea deal offered. Basically, going to trial is a gamble that could result in the defendant walking away without any consequences or ending up with consequences that are far worse than the plea deal that was offered.

What Happens if You Go to Trial and Lose?

Going to trial and losing is often the worst possible outcome for someone accused of a crime. This takes all the power away from the defendant and leaves their punishment up to the courts, based on the decision of the jury.

An extreme example of this that many individuals are familiar with is high-profile homicide cases in which the defendant may qualify for the death penalty if found guilty. If they were to plead guilty, they may be able to avoid the death penalty altogether, even if their crimes would normally constitute this punishment. However, going to trial and losing greatly increases their chance of receiving the death penalty.

Why Does My Lawyer Want To Go to Trial?

Many lawyers will be confident in their ability to convince a jury that the defendant is innocent of the crimes they are accused of. If they are able to successfully convince a jury of their client’s innocence, the individual will walk away free without any punishment. Although risky, this risk may be seen as necessary if the attorney does not believe the plea deal that was offered was insufficient.

Signs Your Case Will Be Dismissed: On What Grounds Can a Civil Case Be Dismissed?

Other signs your case will be dismissed relate to civil cases. Civil cases can also be dismissed for procedural issues but are most often voluntarily terminated by the individuals, often when an agreement is made between the two parties.

What Does It Mean When Your Case Is Dismissed Without Prejudice?

A dismissal without prejudice means the case was dismissed but the prosecution is still able to file new charges at a different time. This is often used when an individual’s case is dismissed on technicalities, despite significant evidence that they are guilty.

How To Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date

One of the most challenging situations a person can encounter is being charged. Therefore, learning the ways to drop charges early is important.

Regardless of the reason that a case is dropped before a court date, the best way to achieve this is to hire an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to interpret all the information and look for signs your case will be dismissed better than the individual themselves.

An attorney will usually file for a case to be dismissed during the arraignment hearing.3 At this point the attorney may present evidence of an illegal arrest taking place or an alibi that proves the defendant could not have committed the crime.

The important thing to remember is that an individual’s chance of getting their case dropped will improve the sooner they contact an attorney.

How Long Does It Take for Police To Drop a Case?

Cases can be dropped at any point in criminal proceedings. Most often, if something significant comes to light, such as security camera footage that proves the defendant’s innocence, the case will be dropped almost immediately.

More complex issues may require an attorney to explain the situation to a judge, usually at the arraignment hearing.

How To Find Out if There Are Pending Charges Against Me for Free?

There might be many charges that will show up on a person’s record and preparation is key in facing these charges. Therefore they might ask, how to discover pending charges against me without cost?

If a charge has been filed with a court then there will be evidence of this information that can be found through the courts or via a background check. If there is nothing officially filed then there will be no way to tell if the police plan to charge you in most cases.

How To Find Out if Criminal Charges Are Filed Against You?

Knowing how to check if charges are filed is crucial if you are the target of criminal accusations. The best and easiest way is to perform a background check on yourself to confirm any charges against you. Although most people think that background checks will only include conviction information, they will usually include charges and arrests as well.

Any pending criminal charges will be present on a public records check, such as the one at the top of this page which can be searched for free.

Getting charged with a crime can be scary, even if the individual did not actually commit the crime they are accused of. However, knowing the signs your case will be dismissed will give individuals an idea of the eventual outcome of the charges.

Frequently Asked Questions About Signs Your Case Will Be Dismissed

How To Know if a Case Is Being Built Against You?

Many lawyers will suspect a strong case based on the plea deal that is offered by the prosecution. If they have a strong case, they may seek a harsher punishment since they are confident in their chances at trial.

How To Know if Your Criminal Case Is Weak?

The way in which the charges were brought can be the first indication of a weak case. Illegal arrests and similar tactics usually indicate a lack of evidence and thus a weak case.

What Is Weak Evidence?

Weak evidence is any evidence that is unlikely to lead to a prosecution. This can be circumstantial evidence (the perpetrator has a white car and so does the accused) or statements from unreliable witnesses.

How Do You Convince a Prosecutor To Drop Charges?

Prosecutors will rarely be convinced to drop charges. Most often a judge will need to be convinced that circumstances indicate the charges are unfair given the evidence or some other issue.

How To Get a Police Report Thrown Out?

Police reports can be thrown out for a few different reasons. The most common reasons are inaccuracies such as names or basic facts that can be proven to be incorrect such as an individual’s car, or their name.

Do Prosecutors Want To Go to Trial?

Prosecutors will generally try to avoid trial as it is costly and leaves the outcome of the case to chance. Avoiding trial and striking a plea bargain allows prosecutors to control the situation much better.

How Long Does It Take for a Prosecutor To Review a Case?

How long it takes a prosecutor to review a case will depend on the case. Simple cases take just a few weeks whereas complex cases can take months to review properly.

How Long Does It Take for a Felony Case To Be Dismissed?

Felony cases can be dismissed rather quickly for many reasons. New evidence may cause the case to be dismissed in a matter of days. In other cases, individuals may have to wait until an arraignment hearing to get a case dismissed.

Can a Felony Be Dropped to a Misdemeanor?

In many cases felony charges will be dropped to misdemeanor charges as part of a plea bargain in order to avoid trial. This is especially common for first offenders.

How Often Are Felony Charges Dropped?

Felony charges are not dropped very often. If a court has enough evidence to charge someone with a felony, they likely have significant evidence that will stand up to scrutiny.

Can a Felony Domestic Violence Charge Be Dropped?

Any charge can be dropped for various reasons. However, the more serious the crime, the less likely that a judge will be willing to drop the charge, especially when the charges involve violent crimes.

Can Felony Assault Charges Be Dropped?

Yes, any charges, regardless of the severity, can be dropped. However the more serious the charges the less likely they will be dropped.

Do Public Defenders Go to Trial?

Yes, public defenders will try to avoid trial in most cases just like prosecuting attorneys. However in many cases trial will be seen as the best option in which case a public defender will represent their client in court.

Can a Felony Case Be Dismissed?

Felony cases can be dismissed the same as a misdemeanor charge. However, it will likely take more compelling reasons for dismissal in order to get a felony charge dismissed opposed to less serious crimes.

How To Find Out if the DA Has Filed Charges?

DAs will file charges through the local court. Searching court records or hiring a background check service to do this is the easiest way to find out if charges have been filed.

Do Prosecutors Get Paid for Convictions?

There is a lot to consider in the legal system when examining the motivations of prosecutors. Officially the job of a prosecutor is to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, however politicization of the legal system makes this an extremely complex and sensitive issue.

What Happens if Charges Are Dropped Before Court?

When charges are dropped before court the accused individual is officially innocent and is free to go about their daily life as all criminal proceedings will be over.

What Are Motion To Dismiss Criminal Case Example?

An attorney may file a motion to dismiss a criminal case for a number of reasons. Most often these will be technicalities or lack of evidence against their client.

What Are the Consequences of Bad Police Report Writing?

Bad police report writing can cause an otherwise guilty individual to walk free if their case is dropped due to inconsistencies due to bad police report writing.

Can Police Reports Be Used as Evidence in Civil Cases?

Although this can be a contested issue, most states will allow police reports as evidence in civil cases in most cases.

Can I Get a Case Dismissed Because of Police Report?

Yes, getting a case dismissed because of police report inaccuracies is fairly common.


1Arrest of an Offender on a Deferred Sentence. (2022). Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from <https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1075>

2Cornell Law School. (2022). Dismiss. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/dismiss>

3United States Department of Justice. (2022). Initial Hearing / Arraignment. Offices of the United States Attorneys. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from <https://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/initial-hearing>

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