Do Federal Cases Ever Get Dismissed?

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allow the government or the court to dismiss any indictment, information, or complaint. 

The specific law is written as follows:

“The government may, with leave of court, dismiss an indictment, information, or complaint. The government may not dismiss the prosecution during trial without the defendant’s consent. The court may dismiss an indictment, information, or complaint if unnecessary delay occurs in: (1) presenting a charge to a grand jury; (2) filing an information against a defendant; or (3) bringing a defendant to trial.”

Most dismissals happen pretrial if they are going to happen at all. They are rare, primarily because AUSAs have a lot more resources to devote to each trial. Law enforcement tends to investigate these cases a lot longer and the prosecutor is well-prepared by the time they get to court.

Fortunately, if you have a criminal defense lawyer who is willing to give your case an equal degree of attention it is sometimes possible to tear the case apart pretrial, and to communicate the weaknesses in the case to the US Attorney’s office. This can result in a pretrial dismissal of charges. 

What are the chances of winning a federal case?

97% of federal defendants plead guilty. Those who proceed to trial get acquitted in about 25% of cases. What this means is that 99% of those who are charged by the government are ultimately convicted and sentenced.

If you’re going to be one of the fortunate 1% who gets on with their life you’ll need an experienced federal criminal attorney who can help you. If the evidence is against you, your attorney may be able to arrange for pretrial diversion, which allows you to avoid charges, and thus prison and sentencing, by meeting certain conditions.

Grounds for dismissal include:

  • Lack of probable cause
  • Improper criminal complaints.
  • Illegal stops and searches.
  • Lack of evidence.
  • Unavailability of key witnesses.
  • Loss of evidence.

Most attorneys will ask for a dismissal as a matter of course, but again, they are extremely rare. 

What happens when a federal case is dismissed?

If you’re lucky enough to have your case dismissed the case is done. The case may continue to exist on your criminal record and may show up in background checks, but it will not show that you were convicted of any crime. It is difficult to get these records expunged, as federal judges are far less likely to do so than state judges and have far fewer instances where the law requires them to do so.

Nevertheless, dismissal is an excellent case outcome, and one of the better ones you can hope for in a federal case. To increase your chances of hearing the words “case dismissed,” contact Koch Law today. 

See also:

How Discovery Works in Federal Criminal Cases 

What is Deferred Prosecution?

Types of Immunity in a Federal Criminal Case

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