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How Can You Convince the DA to Drop Charges?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jun 04, 2024

Suppose you were accused of committing a crime in California. Getting criminal charges dismissed before trial is typically the best outcome you could obtain.

Understanding the role of the district attorney (prosecutor) in the process of dropping charges is crucial. While there are several strategies for getting criminal charges dropped, persuading the district attorney to drop the charge is not easy. If successful, you will not have to go to trial, and your case could potentially end. However, it should be noted that the DA could refile charges later if new evidence emerges.

How Can You Convince the DA to Drop Charges?
Several legal grounds exist to persuade the district attorney to drop criminal charges against you,

If you get prosecutors to drop the criminal charges against you, your case will end. If you were in custody, you would be released. There would be no more court dates and no trial.

Sometimes, the District Attorney's Office (DA) can be persuaded to drop the charges during the arraignment or not "press" (file) formal criminal charges, known as a "DA reject." Understanding the potential outcomes of this stage can be beneficial for your case.

It's important to note that even if charges are dropped, law enforcement's investigation may continue. If new evidence is discovered, the district attorney can refile the charges, leading to a new trial date and the resurrection of your case. Being prepared for such scenarios is crucial.

Understanding the role of the district attorney in the process is crucial. The decision to drop charges is typically in the hands of the prosecutor, not the judge. This knowledge can help you navigate the legal system more effectively.

Understanding the reasons why the district attorney might decide to drop criminal charges is essential. Some of the most common reasons include insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction and new evidence undermining the DA's case. Perhaps your defense lawyer can persuade the DA that you will likely win at trial with a specific legal defense.

Other reasons include uncooperative victims or witnesses or those lacking credibility. Perhaps there was a violation of constitutional rights or an illegal search or seizure. Maybe you were accepted into a diversion program or accepted a plea deal that included dropping some criminal charges.

Typically, your criminal defense lawyer will pursue multiple options, and which legal grounds to use for dropping a criminal case will depend on the specific circumstances.

What Does it Mean to Have Criminal Charges Dropped?

Getting California criminal charges dropped is typically one of the best results after being charged with a crime. So, what does it mean? Consider the following quick facts:

  • If the district attorney decides to drop a criminal charge against you, they will no longer pursue the case.
  • Your criminal case will not proceed to trial, and you will not be penalized for the alleged offense.
  • A dropped criminal charge does not always mean that the criminal charge will permanently go away.
  • A prosecutor can decide to reinstate a charge later if they discover new evidence against you.
  • Prosecutors can drop a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge before or after filing your case.
  • You must be released from jail if you are in custody when a charge is dropped.
  • There are no more court dates, and you will not face any punishments.
  • Typically, most dropped charges tend to occur before trial.

Notably, California's Clean Slate Laws recently passed under AB 1076 and SB 731 say any charges against you that do not result in conviction are immediately sealed from your criminal record, so they will no longer appear in background checks.

Why Would a Prosecutor Drop a Case?

Several reasons exist for a prosecutor deciding to drop your criminal charge., such as the following:

  • There is insufficient evidence to secure a guilty plea or convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt to deliver a guilty verdict.
  • Proof that if they filed charges against you, you could successfully make a self-defense argument.
  • New, credible evidence, like DNA, has cleared you of the crime.
  • New witnesses have provided credible testimony to clear you.
  • A plea agreement was reached, including dropping some charges in exchange for a guilty plea.
  • If key witnesses are unavailable or their credibility comes into question.
  • If the alleged victim decides not to cooperate or doesn't wish to press charges, which is common in domestic violence cases.
  • If there were errors in how the evidence was collected.
  • When your legal rights were violated during the arrest.
  • Prosecutors might also consider the cost and time of pursuing a trial. They could decide it's not worth pursuing if the case is weak.

Will the DA Drop Domestic Violence Charges?

In many domestic violence cases, alleged victims refuse to cooperate even after initially filing a police report and cooperating with the prosecutor.

It's common for victims to recant their story and ask the district attorney to drop the domestic violence charges. Notably, however, prosecutors are very familiar with this situation and often believe the victim is now lying to cover the alleged abuser.

It's important to understand that victims of domestic cannot drop charges, and the prosecutor can still pursue criminal cases even without their cooperation.

Prosecutors usually drop domestic violence charges because they don't believe they can get a conviction. They don't want to spend taxpayer money on a trial they are sure to lose.

Will the DA Drop Charges Due to an Illegal Search?

It may be possible to get charges dropped because of an illegal search if the police exceed the bounds of the search warrant or if the warrant itself is too broad in scope.

In some cases, your criminal defense attorney might ask the judge to suppress evidence obtained from the illegal search, which could force the DA to drop the criminal charges.

Law Enforcement typically needs a search warrant to enter and search your home or vehicle. The warrant must also be specific about what items the police are looking for. They can't search without probable cause to believe you committed a crime, and they can find evidence at the location.

Also, suppose police fail to read your Miranda rights before a custodial interrogation, meaning questioning you after the arrest. In this case, the judge might suppress your statements, including a confession.

Does a Dropped Charge Mean It's Permanently Over?

Not always. A dropped charge does not fall under double jeopardy protections because these only apply to completed trials. Perhaps the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning there is an option to refile it later.

The district attorney might be able to refile the criminal charges if additional evidence is discovered. Thus, even if your criminal charges are dropped, you must understand it's possible to deal with it again later, and you should continue working with your attorney to protect your rights.

Consult with our California criminal defense lawyers to review the case details and discuss whether we can get your criminal case dropped. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.