As felons know, whether they are new to the legal system or have been through it before, there are certain steps that take place early in the process.
One of these steps is the formal presentation of the charges in court, called a felony indictment.
Please see the earlier blog post What Does Felony Indictment Mean? This details the process.
Once the felony indictment has occurred, there are important dates that must be adhered to by the prosecution in order to avoid the felony charge being dismissed.
This blog post will cover the issue of a felony dismissal date.
- Steps in the Felony Dismissal Process
- Request for Felony Dismissal
- Results of a Felony Dismissal
- Providing Support to the Accused after Felony Dismissal
Steps in the Felony Dismissal Process
At a felony arraignment the judge reads the charges to defendants. In this way, they know what they are facing and can retain legal representation in order to build a defense.
A preliminary hearing will then be set. This is required to occur within ten court days of arraignment.
A preliminary hearing may be requested. Its purpose is to examine the evidence so that weak cases can be dismissed.
The prosecutor must show that there is a strong suspicion that a crime was committed and that the defendant is guilty. The evidence does not have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.
Following this is a second arraignment in trial court. This arraignment is called the arraignment on information.
This is the opportunity for the defendant’s attorney to file motions and request further discovery of evidence. The defendant must be arraigned on evidence within 15 days of the previous hearing.
Prior to the actual trial, a pre-trial conference typically is held. At this conference, an attempt may be made to settle the case. This conference is held 30-45 days after the second arraignment.
If there is no settlement, the trial will be scheduled.
The time frame for this will vary according to the complexity of the case, the time for discovery, and the time for the prosecutor and defense attorney to prepare the case.
Of course, this is variable, as felons already know.
Request for a Felony Dismissal
The important point throughout the legal process is that there are dates set by the court, as outlined above. It is up to the prosecutor to prepare the case within the time limits established under the law.
When those time frames are not adhered to, especially to bring formal charges in court, the defense attorney may request a dismissal of the charges.
The Constitution, according to the Sixth Amendment, guarantees the defendant the right to a speedy trial. One of the factors in deciding whether to pursue formal charges by referral to the circuit court of that jurisdiction.
An essential aspect here is whether or not to file lesser charges, which can mean a misdemeanor. It is not always a simple question of felony versus no charges at all.
Even in this event, if the judge determines that the prosecution has a very strong case, he can rule against felony dismissal and require the case move to trial.
Results of a Felony Dismissal
If the felony is dismissed, that means it’s over, right?
Not necessarily. It depends on whether it is dismissed with or without prejudice. If it is with prejudice, the case cannot be re-filed at a later date.
Felony dismissal with prejudice means that there has been an arbitrary legal action or government misconduct in which there has been prejudice to the rights of the defendant to have a fair trial.
Dismissal without prejudice occurs when there is not enough evidence to go to trial. This type of case can be re-filed at a later date, if more evidence becomes available.
In the event of a dismissal with prejudice, the accused goes free and doesn’t have to be concerned about the legal system coming after them again on the same charge.
Felons can go on with their lives once more.
However, if the felony is dismissed without prejudice, it is possible for the prosecution to move forward once again at a later date.
Providing Support to the Accused after Felony Dismissal
This is when it will be most important for felons to have the support of their family and friends. The legal jeopardy they faced isn’t over.
They will have to be prepared by remaining in contact with their attorney and maintaining a good relationship with legal counsel.
In this event, it will be in the best interest of the accused to continue living in a healthy, productive manner, staying out of further legal trouble.
This is when it is essential to have the encouragement of loved ones, to not give up in the face of potential future prosecution.
What do you think about this blog post? What is your experience with a felony dismissal date? How did that work out? Please tell us in the comments below.