I’m innocent. My case needs to be dismissed, right?
This is an incredibly common belief for those charged with crimes. It is even more common for people without a long record or limited involvement in the criminal justice system. Cases do get dismissed — for a variety of different reasons. The, “but I’m innocent” reason is not usually among them. An innocent person (as with all people) has a right to a trial where they may be found not guilty of a crime.
For instance, if you are charged with a crime in a busy, local District Court, like Lowell District Court or Lawrence District Court, a clerk magistrate has previously determined that there is probable cause for the offense against you. The state will pursue charges against you once any of the following has occurred: an arrest, the issuance of a felony complaint, or following a show-cause hearing before a clerk magistrate. This is when I believe having an experienced district court criminal defense attorney assist you is of utmost importance.
Many people charged with a crime believe that the charges should simply be dismissed. After arraignment, the most common method of a dismissal (outside of a negotiation with the prosecutor) is what's called a DiBenedetto motion to dismiss. This can be filed when it is believed that the clerk who issued the complaint was wrong and there was not enough evidence for the charges. Unfortunately, the amount of evidence that a clerk requires before proceeding with the charges is quite low. All the clerk needs to find is that it is probable (even less than more likely) that the crime occurred. For a variety of reasons, I suggest having a discussion with an experienced district court defense lawyer to talk about the pros and cons of filing the motion.
Many people will ask, why wouldn’t I file a motion to dismiss? The answer to that question is simple: sometimes the charges are insufficient at a trial stage because of a missing element (perhaps the police neglected to obtain a critical piece of evidence that would support the charges and the prosecutor similarly hasn’t obtained the evidence either) and revealing the issue earlier in the hearing will expose the problem to the prosecutor who can thereafter correct his or her mistake. You would be surprised how often something like this happens that can result in an otherwise indefensible case becoming a not guilty or a dismissal on the date of trial.
Although this is a common occurrence, this is not always the correct way of achieving the best result possible in a criminal case. For instance, often there is more than one charge in a case. If one of the charges is lacking evidentiary support, perhaps it does make sense to seek the dismissal of one (or multiple charges) in order to increase the likelihood of a good result on the remaining charges. I often will seek to resolve some, but not all, of the charges a client is facing by seeking the dismissal of the weakest charges (or most serious charges) and then either going to trial or negotiating a good result with whatever remains.
The one fact remains: you should consult with an experienced Lowell or Lawrence district court criminal defense attorney before making a decision on how you wish to proceed. There are a myriad of potential strategies, outcomes, and possible decisions. Having someone you trust and are comfortable with in your corner is your first step towards planning your defense. Even if you did not commit the crime you are charged with, it does not mean your case will be dismissed. What it does mean is that you should do your research and speak with someone who can assist you. Someone who can answer not what often happens in cases “like yours,” but rather what is likely to happen in your case.
If you would like to discuss your case with Ryan Sullivan, call or text (978) 221-6012 or contact us online today.