Criminal Defense

What Does ‘Dismissed Without Prejudice’ Mean?

June 29, 2022 by Madison Ferguson in Criminal Defense  
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Criminal Court Dismissals

A criminal case may be dismissed before, throughout, or even after the trial.

It could be the outcome of a proposal to dismiss filed by the prosecutor or the defendant, or it could be a court decision with no motion from any of these parties.

A case can be brushed aside in two ways: with prejudice or without prejudice. To understand the concept “dismissed without prejudice,” it is useful to understand the distinction between “with” and “without” prejudice, voluntary and involuntary dismissal.

Dismissal with Prejudice

In a case, dismissal with prejudice is often a result of a serious breach of the defendant’s civil liberties that cannot be rectified. For example, detention under unreasonable grounds or an unlawful search can result in a case being dismissed with prejudice.

Dismissal with prejudice is usually due to the defendant’s request to dismiss or the court’s choice to impose the dismissal. Another flaw in a lawsuit that may cause a judge to dismiss it with prejudice is when a defendant enters and efficiently completes a community diversion program.

A dismissal with prejudice means that the case is over.

If there is a basis for the matter not to be presented back to court, for example, if the court judges the lawsuit absurd or the topic under discussion is handled outside of court, the charges will be dropped.

If you are charged, your lawyer is supposed to assess shreds of evidence and the charges against you and decide if there is a reason valid for the case to be dismissed with prejudice.

Dismissal Without Prejudice

A proposal to dismiss a case without prejudice may stem from a prosecutor giving them time to refile charges. The prosecutor requests more time to follow up on leads or obtain new evidence. In some cases, the prosecution may request to dismiss the case without prejudice to add new allegations against the defendant. The dismissal is, however, temporary and less beneficial to the defendant. A court’s dismissal without prejudice may also be because the prosecutor must address some issue in the case.

It should be noted that the lawyer may not pursue new charges when the prosecution’s limitation period expires or investigators cannot locate more evidence to settle the issue that resulted in the dismissal. The court or attorney will always notify the defendant following dismissal without prejudice.

What To Do If Your Case Was Dismissed Without Prejudice

It is critical to contact your attorney if dismissal without prejudice is issued on your lawsuit, so they can discuss the limitation period for your particular criminal offenses, what the prosecution is expected to do or what to anticipate afterward. Lawyers are not always informed about the charges that have been refiled or added to their clients’ cases; therefore, it’s critical that the court has your right address and that you check the mail for any documents on refiled charges. You should contact your defense counsel immediately if you receive such a notification.

Voluntary Dismissal

A voluntary dismissal often refers to a plaintiff withdrawing from a lawsuit before taking action. A voluntary dismissal occurs when the party who took the matter to court, known as the plaintiff, cancels the case. The notice of voluntary dismissal must be delivered before the defendant takes any action, which means making a motion or submitting an answer. A dismissal’s paperwork is often a single page.

A voluntary dismissal is frequently presented after the defendant has commenced initiating action. It prevents a matter from dragging on indefinitely and ensures a quick hearing for all parties concerned. A matter dismissed can be reopened and taken back to court. In the United States, another short-form must be filled out to complete this task.

Involuntary Dismissal

A court can dismiss a matter if there is a justification. Involuntary dismissal is given with or without prejudice based on whether the lawsuit was willingly dismissed or is considered essential for the public good.

A court can involuntarily dismiss a case to allow the prosecutor to “correct” mistakes. If something is drastically wrong with the prosecutor’s allegations, they may impose an involuntary dismissal with prejudice. A court may permanently dismiss the case if the prosecutor continually requests extensions and layoffs without prejudice.

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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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