Facing criminal charges can be both frightening and overwhelming. From the arrest to the hearing, individuals often feel lost in the criminal justice system.
So, the more Kentuckians know, the more options they may be able to take advantage of to protect their rights and futures when facing these circumstances. It is important to understand the process of a criminal case, including the situations that could lead their charges to be dismissed.
What are the legal grounds for dismissal?
There are quite a few situations when it might be possible for the charges against an individual to be dismissed, including if:
- The police conducted an illegal stop or search: As we have discussed many times in previous blog posts, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals against illegal searches and seizures. Searches are illegal if the police do not have probable cause, do not obtain a warrant or the information on the warrant is incorrect.
- The arrest was not based on probable cause: Kentucky police must also have probable cause to arrest someone. This means that the general facts and evidence police have would also lead a reasonable person to believe someone might have committed a crime. Essentially, the police cannot simply arrest someone based on suspicion alone. They must have evidence.
- There is not enough evidence: Remember, all United States citizens facing criminal charges are innocent until proven guilty. If prosecutors do not provide enough concrete evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual committed a crime, it is likely the charges could be dismissed.
- Witnesses will not testify: One of the primary ways prosecutors present evidence is through eyewitnesses. However, if a key witness refuses to testify, changes their testimony or lies under oath, that evidence will not qualify. In many cases, this could lead to dismissed charges.
- The complaint or records were improper or incorrect: Police must follow strict procedures when charging someone with a crime. One step is to file a criminal complaint. If the police do not file the complaint correctly, omit information or include false information, the charges could be dismissed.
These may be the legal grounds for charges to be dismissed, but courts will usually consider many other factors. For example, the specific charges and an individual’s record could play a significant role in the decision to dismiss charges as well. The attorney individuals choose to represent them could also make a considerable difference.
Regardless, it is still critical for individuals to understand the grounds to dismiss the charges against them, so they know their rights and options when facing criminal charges.