At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney represents clients throughout California and understands there may be some confusion about when or why charges are dropped vs. dismissed.

Charges can be dropped for various reasons, such as insufficient evidence, new evidence that exonerates the defendant, witness unavailability, or prosecutorial discretion. When charges are dropped, the prosecutor has decided not to pursue the case further.

Dismissal can occur for several reasons, including procedural errors, violations of the defendant’s rights, lack of evidence, or failure to comply with legal standards. The defense can file a motion to dismiss, and if the judge agrees, the charges will be dismissed.

In both cases, the defendant is no longer facing those specific charges.

What Are the Grounds for Dismissing a California Criminal Case?

In California, there are several grounds for dismissing a criminal case. These grounds can be procedural, evidentiary, or based on constitutional rights.

Some of the common grounds include:

  • Lack of Probable Cause: If it can be demonstrated that the arrest or the charges were not based on probable cause, the case may be dismissed.
  • Insufficient Evidence: The case can be dismissed if the prosecution lacks enough evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: If evidence was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, violating the Fourth Amendment, it may be excluded, and the case could be dismissed if this evidence is critical.
  • Failure to Provide a Speedy Trial: Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and California law, defendants have the right to a speedy trial. If this right is violated, the case can be dismissed.
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct: Any misconduct by the prosecutor, such as withholding exculpatory evidence, can result in dismissal.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: Any violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent or the right to legal counsel, can be grounds for dismissal.
  • Double Jeopardy: If the defendant has already been tried for the same offense, the case can be dismissed under the protection against double jeopardy.
  • Improper Charging Documents: If the charging documents, such as the indictment or information, contain significant errors or omissions, the case can be dismissed.
  • Pre-Trial Diversion Programs: For certain offenses, the defendant may be eligible for a diversion program. Successful completion of such a program can result in dismissal of the charges.
  • Statute of Limitations: If the charges are brought after the statute of limitations has expired, the case can be dismissed.
  • Entrapment: If it can be proven that law enforcement induced the defendant to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed, the case may be dismissed.

These grounds provide various avenues for the defense to seek a dismissal of the charges, depending on the case’s specific circumstances.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorney at  Griffin Law Office, APC

If you face criminal charges in California, call 619-269-2131 to speak with our skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today or contact us online. We can explain your legal rights and help you build a defense to pursue the best outcome for your case.