Choosing To Remain Positive

Understanding Pretrial Motions To Dismiss Criminal Charges

Ask most folks to imagine what the successful conclusion of a criminal defense looks like, and they're likely to picture a jury delivering a "not guilty" verdict. Although that's certainly one way a case can end, a more common tool for a criminal law attorney to try to use is the pretrial motion to dismiss the charges. This is a request filed by a criminal defense attorney that asks the judge to throw the case out entirely because there is something inherently wrong with it. Let's take a look at the two main ways a case might be dismissed.

Procedural Grounds and Your Rights

The American legal system does not allow prosecutors and courts to run roughshod on people, and legal procedures are one of the main checks against such conduct. A procedural concern about a case might arise, for example, from failure to make a criminal defense attorney available to the defendant before they were questioned by the police.

Note that such concerns about cases have nothing to do with questions of guilt or innocence. Even the guiltiest person in America has the right to an orderly legal process where they will have counsel, a chance to cross-examine and introduce witnesses, and a trial conducted in a timely manner. Failure to do so, whether by the prosecution or the court, is grounds for asking to have a case dismissed.

Insufficient Probable Cause or Evidence

Probable cause is the notion that the police have to have some indication that a crime is being committed before they can stop a person. Notably, this justification has to be something that a reasonable person would find suspicious enough that they'd want to learn more about what's happening.

For example, consider how a DUI traffic stop works. The cops can't just pull up behind a car and throw the lights on hoping that the driver might be intoxicated. Instead, an officer trailing a motorist must see signs of potential intoxication, such as seeing the vehicle crossing the center line several times or swerving well into the other lane. An officer will then build upon this by conducting an interview with the person, potentially leading to a field sobriety test and a breath analysis to collect evidence.

If any part of that chain leading from probable cause to an arrest is flawed, it's grounds for seeking dismissal. A criminal defense attorney can question why the stop occurred, how the officer concluded it was okay to do a test, or even the results of the test.

For more information, reach out to companies like Daniels Long & Pinsel.