What Does It Take to Get a Criminal Case Dismissed?

What Does It Take to Get a Criminal Case Dismissed?

In some cases, it may be possible to get a criminal case dismissed. This is one of the main reasons for working with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer can help you explore your options for getting your case dismissed.

It’s important to note that not every case is suitable for dismissal. It might not be possible to petition the court to dismiss your case. However, if the facts of your case include potential grounds for dismissal, it’s in your best interest to consider filing a motion to dismiss.

Here are six ways a criminal case could be dismissed.

The Police Had No Probable Cause to Arrest You

In some cases, you can get a criminal case dismissed if you can show that the police lacked probable cause to arrest you.

The law dictates that the police are not allowed to go around arresting citizens just because they feel like it or because they have a hunch that someone committed a crime.

Instead, the police must first have probable cause that an individual engaged in a crime before they can place the person under arrest.

For example, if an eyewitness to a bank robbery stops a police officer on the street and tells the officer the robber jumped into a green getaway car with a broken taillight, the police have probable cause to stop any vehicle that matches that description.

However, the police don’t have probable cause to stop any random vehicle that doesn’t match the witness’s description. This would be an arbitrary stop and a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures addressed in the SCOTUS decision Collins v. Virginia.

Errors in the Charging Document

Police officers and prosecutors have an obligation to be truthful when they file a complaint or fill out a charging document.

Law enforcement officials complete these documents under oath. If the complaint of a charging document leaves out important information or misstates the facts, the defendant’s attorney may be able to successfully argue that the case should be dismissed.

Police and prosecutors also have a legal duty to correct their mistakes. If they fail to do so, the court may order the criminal case dismissed.

Improper Stop or Illegal Search

The Fourth Amendment guarantees protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, police need a warrant to conduct a search, but there are several exceptions to this general rule.

For example, if the police are chasing someone on foot through a neighborhood pursuant to probable cause for a stop, they don’t have to take a time out and obtain a search warrant. Instead, they may pursue the fleeing individual for purposes of apprehending them.

In the absence of a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement, the court may rule that a police officer’s search was illegal. If that occurs, any evidence gathered due to the illegal search is inadmissible in a trial against the defendant.

Depending on how important the evidence is to the prosecution’s case, having the evidence excluded can sometimes mean the prosecutor is forced to dismiss the case entirely.

Insufficient Evidence

The burden of proof for criminal prosecutions is very high. Generally, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime.

When the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to meet this standard, the court may order the case dismissed.

Witness Unavailability

In some cases, the prosecution’s case depends on witness testimony. However, human beings aren’t always reliable. If a witness disappears, becomes ill, or can’t be located, the prosecution may lack enough evidence to proceed with the case against the defendant.

It’s also possible for a witness to worry that their testimony may result in them being implicated in a crime.

Additionally, witnesses have the right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. If they refuse to testify, it could hurt the prosecution’s case enough to lead to a dismissal of the charges.

Prosecutor Discretion

Although it’s not a very common occurrence, it’s possible for a prosecutor to make the decision to drop the charges.

Prosecutors have discretion when it comes to whether they will file charges or proceed with prosecution once charges have been filed. There are several reasons why a prosecutor may exercise this discretion by not prosecuting.

For example, the prosecution may worry they don’t have enough evidence to move forward for a conviction. In other cases, a prosecutor may honor a victim’s request not to prosecute, such as in a sexual assault case where it might further traumatize the victim if they’re required to speak in court.

Talk to a Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, it’s important to talk to a Dallas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable defense lawyer can help you understand your rights and the options available to you. Call the criminal defense team at Broden & Mickelsen, LLP in Dallas to discuss your case or schedule a free consultation. (T): 214-720-9552

Dallas Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
Broden & Mickelsen, LLP
(T): 214-720-9552


Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.


  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/probable_cause
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fifth_amendment

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.