While you may welcome a dismissal of any criminal charges that you are facing, it is important to know the difference between the different types of dismissals. When a judge dismisses charges without prejudice, there is nothing to prevent the prosecution from filing the same or slightly different charges against you in the future. In some cases, the prosecutor may file charges without very much evidence. At a preliminary hearing, the judge may dismiss the charges as a result of the lack of evidence. However, the dismissal will be without prejudice.
After a dismissal of criminal charges without prejudice, the prosecutor has different options for prosecuting you for the same incident. The prosecutor could change the charges to better fit the evidence or facts as they occurred. In a case in which forensic evidence or chemical testing is important, the prosecutor may wish to have additional testing conducted or have the evidence evaluated by another expert. Additional reports or testing could supplement the existing evidence to the extent that the prosecution could simply refile the charges.
Furthermore, a prosecutor also could have law enforcement officials conduct additional investigation in order gather more evidence. There may be changes in the law that make the evidence in the case more important or validate another form of testing that is relevant to the case. Whatever the case may be, the only thing that can stop a prosecutor from refiling criminal charges after they were dismissed without prejudice is time. There are statutes of limitations, or deadlines, by which the law requires prosecutors to file charges for certain criminal offense. The dismiss of charges without prejudice does not stop the statute of limitations. Thus, if the statute of limitations expires prior to the prosecutor refiling charges, then the prosecutor will be unable to refile those charges.
On the other hand, a dismissal of criminal charges with prejudice does prevent the prosecutor from refiling the charges later. For instance, if a judge rules that the drugs in a drug possession case are inadmissible because the police failed to get a search warrant prior to searching the defendant’s vehicle and finding the drugs, there is no way to go back in time and make that search legal. As a result, the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the charges with prejudice.
An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.