Can A Felony Charge Be Dismissed?
When you're charged with a felony, life virtually pauses while you fear for both your freedom and your family's welfare. It's the beginning of a serious, and often lengthy, fight, but there's plenty of hope. Understanding the nature of the charges, tactics used by prosecutors and the process of the criminal justice system will greatly increase your odds of obtaining a favorable outcome.
From petty theft to first-degree murder, a judge or prosecutor can choose to dismiss any criminal charge, and there are many reasons for such a dismissal. For instance, cases can be thrown out due to insufficient evidence, the way in which certain evidence was obtained (such as an unconstitutional search and seizure) or even the expiration of a crime's statute of limitations. Although you should try to be optimistic, relying on a miraculous dismissal is a long shot and a bad idea.
A lot of states use felony charges to make a trial seem unattractive. In Arizona, for example, all marijuana offences are initially charged as felonies, making charges seem more serious than they really are. In the vast majority of these Arizona cases, the prosecution almost always offers a long, invasive and expensive deferment program, the completion of which results in the dismissal of the charges, for first-time offenders or reduces the charges to misdemeanors, the sentence for which is usually probation without jail time, in exchange for a guilty plea. According to a University of Arizona publication, police recently threatened protesters with "unsupportable felony charges." By threatening felony charges, prosecutors can often easily convince helpless defendants into surrendering their right to trial. Because of this method, and others like it, you should be wary of tempting plea offers, refrain from incriminating yourself when discussing such offers with prosecutors, remain polite and simply tell them you'll consider it.
Whether or not your case will ever see a jury, you should definitely get your own criminal law attorney. Although public defenders can be exceptional, they're often overloaded with cases and too quick to make deals. Getting your own attorney will:
- Provide peace of mind
- Guarantee individualized attention
- Help you better understand your case
When you enlist the help of attorneys, they are usually more experienced, have lighter case loads and rely on their reputations for continued business.
The defendant's chair is a terrible place to be, but you cannot allow underhanded tactics or overzealous prosecutors to scare you into submission. If you're charged with a felony, get an experienced lawyer and don't give up hope. Felony charges are serious, but with the right strategy, your odds increase exponentially.