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5 Reasons Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

Just because you've been initially charged with a crime, does not necessarily mean that the prosecutor will move forward and prosecute you for the crime. In fact, there are many situations where prosecutors will drop criminal charges.

In a criminal case, the state is the plaintiff in the case and the suspect is the defendant. So whether the state decides to move forward with a case is largely up to prosecutorial discretion.

Below are five reasons why a prosecutor may decide to drop the criminal charges against you:

  1. Lack of Evidence. It's not easy winning a criminal case. Prosecutors have the high burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Even if it is likely that you committed a crime and there is some evidence linking you to the crime, it may not be enough to convict you. Instead, prosecutors need enough evidence to be almost certain that you are guilty, and without available evidence, prosecutors may drop the criminal charges.
  2. Lack of Resources. The unfortunate reality is that prosecutors deal with a lot more crimes than they can prosecute. As a result, they usually allocate their resources to more high priority cases. So if you've been convicted of a relatively minor crime or if prosecutors are not certain if they can convict you, they may drop the charges.
  3. First Time Offender. Related to lack of resources above, prosecutors may give you a pass if you're accused of a minor crime and you have no criminal history.
  4. Victim/Witness Do Not Come Forward. Oftentimes, the victim of the crime later changes his or her mind regarding whether to go after a suspect. While prosecutors ultimately make this decision, if they do not have any available witnesses, they may not be able to build a case.
  5. Willingness to Cooperate. If you are willing to work with prosecutors to help them on other crimes or otherwise be of assistance, prosecutors may be willing to work out a deal where they drop the criminal charges in return.

If you've been charged with a crime, it's a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can evaluate these options for prosecutors to drop criminal charges and could help you reach a favorable deal.

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