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Dropped, dismissed or an acquittal of charges: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Following an arrest or investigation for a criminal matter in New Jersey, there are a number of ways the allegations against you can be resolved in your favor. Although frequently used interchangeably to refer to a positive case outcome, dropped or dismissed charges and acquittals differ significantly.

A refusal to pursue your case

Dropping a charge occurs when the arresting officer or prosecutor declines to pursue the case against you any further. Officials may decide to drop a charge or not file formal charges against you for various reasons. This may happen if the state determines the charges against you were unnecessary, if the prosecution overcharged you with a more serious offense or if law enforcement determines they cannot prove the charges. Keep in mind, unless you sign an agreement, such as a plea bargain, the original charges can be refiled at a later date.

Inadequate grounds for a case

When the prosecutor or judge decides the state doesn’t have enough evidence to charge or convict you after filing formal charges, they can dismiss the case. Dismissals can stem from a lack of evidence, unlawfully obtained evidence or a procedural error. Unlike dropped charges, in a dismissal, the prosecution can only refile charges against you under certain circumstances to avoid violating your Fifth Amendment rights.

A not guilty verdict and subsequent acquittal

An acquittal happens during the trial phase when a jury or judge finds you not guilty of the charges. This means the prosecution could not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the case against you ends. In situations involving multiple offenses, the court may acquit you of one or more charges, resulting in a partial acquittal.

Being charged with a crime carries serious consequences. Whether this is your first arrest or you’re facing a subsequent charge, the The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo can help. Arrange your free consultation with a lawyer by emailing the firm or calling 908-643-6801.



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