Getting your charges dismissed is the goal of every good criminal defense attorney. As an accused person, it should be your goal as well. Getting your charges dismissed is the best outcome that you can hope for when charged with a crime.
Getting your charges dismissed is not the same as winning at trial. Getting your charges dismissed is better than that because you don’t have to risk going to trial.
Your charges can be dismissed several ways.
If the State Attorney declines to file formal charges, this is one way in which your charges are dismissed. This is called a “no action” in Miami-Dade County and a “no info” in Broward County.
This means that the prosecutor has concluded that there is not enough evidence to charge you with a crime after conducting their pre-file investigation.
As a defense attorney, I feel that the pre-file stage is an opportunity for the accused. Most prosecutors handling cases at the pre-file stage will not be handling them at the trial stage, which means that they have more discretion as to which cases are filed and which cases are not. Once assigned to a trial court prosecutor, the case is unlikely to be dismissed on the merits because another prosecutor has already made the decision to file it.
A case, however, can also be dismissed during the litigation if the prosecutor concludes that there is insufficient evidence to go forward. Taking depositions is a very important litigation tool as it can expose tremendous weaknesses in a case.
A pre-file conference is only about five to ten minutes long. But a deposition can be as long as the attorney wants, and the attorney can ask their own questions. These questions may not have been asked to the witness previously so it is a good opportunity to bring new information to light.
A case can also be dismissed for successful completion of Pretrial Diversion (PTD) or Pretrial Intervention (PTI).
In any event, now that your case has been dismissed, don’t think for a minute that the arrest is automatically off of your record. That doesn’t happen.
You must expunge an arrest, even if the case is dismissed. Remember, the expungement deletes arrest information. You can’t undo an arrest despite the outcome of the case.
I hear many attorneys, defendants, and even judges perpetuating the myth that if a case is dismissed, it is “off your record.” Completely untrue.
If your case is dismissed, you must expunge your arrest record in order to completely clear the information from public databases.
In order to expunge you must have no criminal convictions on your record and you must never have sealed or expunged your record previously.
Sealing is different that expunging because sealing requires you to have pleaded guilty or no contest to a qualifying offense while receiving a withhold of adjudication.
Expungement is for cases that have been dismissed by the State Attorney.
Eric Matheny is an expungement attorney representing clients throughout the State of Florida. Attorney Eric Matheny expunges criminal records in all Florida counties.