Life rarely goes as planned. One second everything seems perfect but the very next, you may find yourself getting shoved inside a police van. This might look like a huge leap, but the truth is, this situation is not very rare. Especially because you don’t even have to actually commit a crime to experience this, but you could just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That one second holds the power to change your life forever.
But wait, you don’t have to give in to fate completely and wait for the system to take its course in the way of long-running trials, jail time, and hefty fines. The Code of Criminal Procedure allows the Prosecutor to dismiss any charge levied against you before a trial can even begin. You can take advantage of this law and go on to live your life exactly how you want.
How can charges be dropped at an arraignment hearing or before or after that? Here is your step-to-step guide to doing just that.
Why Should You Get Charges Dropped Before the Court Date?
If your charges get dropped before the Court Date, you can get out of this horrible situation without putting much dent in your finances, reputation, and criminal record. You will not have served any jail time or paid any fine.
What happens if charges are dropped before court date? Basically, this is a way to completely distance yourself from your past mistakes. You will not have a criminal record lingering on your head punishing you your whole life for a mistake you may not even have committed.
Because yes, a permanent criminal record of a felony and in some situations, even a misdemeanor can lead you to be openly discriminated against in almost all aspects of your life. Some of the most common consequences of having a permanent criminal record are –
- You may lose your job if your employer runs a criminal background check on you.
- You may have trouble finding new jobs and renting apartments.
- You might lose your professional licenses and security clearances.
- You may never be allowed to own a gun.
- You may get refused a student loan.
Why Would a Prosecutor Drop the Charges Before Court Date?
But why would a prosecutor drop the charges before court date? Well, there are several grounds why and signs your case will be dismissed, like –
- Insufficient evidence – The Prosecutor should have enough evidence against you to take the case forward. If they don’t have it, they will have no option but to get the charges dropped. If they go ahead with filing the charges without sufficient evidence, an experienced Austin Criminal Lawyer can get the Prosecutor to dismiss them.
- Lack of witnesses – If there was no witness present at the crime scene to testify against you, it can contribute to a lack of evidence against you. In these cases, the prosecutor will not have any option but to get your charges dropped.
- Violation of constitutional rights – The 4th Amendment right protects all citizens from illegal searches and seizures by enforcement officers. So, if any of the evidence against you was not procured by proper procedure, it would not be admissible in court. It can lead to insufficient evidence against you and in turn, getting your charges dropped.
- Faulty arrest – The enforcement officers are required to follow the laid down procedures for arrests, interrogations, and bail hearings. If they fail to follow any of them, your arrest will be considered illegal and your charges can be dropped.
- Etc. – There can be several other grounds for dropping your charges, like lack of cooperation from the victim, the discovery of fresh evidence in your favor, your cooperation in other criminal cases, insufficient resources to continue the investigation against you, error in complaints and prosecutor’s discretion.
The most important thing to remember here is that these grounds might not be apparently visible in your case. A criminal defense lawyer knows exactly where to look and what loopholes to find. Therefore, your first step should always be to hire an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as you become aware of any charges filed against you.
How to Get Charges Dropped – 3 Methods
That brings us to the most critical question – how to get charges dropped before court date? It will largely depend on the charges levied against you, but broadly, there are three methods your lawyer can apply to stop your charges from proceeding further.
1. Negotiating a Pretrial Diversion Program
The Texas Government Code provides an option for certain offenders to get their charges dropped in exchange for voluntarily complying with certain conditions set up by the court. You can only be eligible to negotiate a Pretrial Diversion Program if this was your first offense ever and it was categorized as a misdemeanor.
You will generally be required to accept your offense in your written application and also write essays explaining the circumstances surrounding your charges and why you want your charges dropped. The reason can vary from family responsibilities to further studies.
If your application is accepted, you will sit in on an interview with an officer who may ask you questions about your essays and written application. If you are granted the diversion, the court will lay down a set of rules that you must follow to avoid future trials for your charges.
As a part of these rules, you may be required to do community service, take regular drug tests, report to your probation officer, and attend counseling. This is a great way to avoid jail time, a hefty fine, and a lifetime of discrimination. So, if you have been charged with an offense, reach out to an Austin Criminal lawyer today to check if you qualify for a Pretrial Diversion Program.
2. Cooperating With Another Case
This is not a very common method of getting charges dropped, but if you qualify, you can get your charges wiped clean, even a felony charge. And how do you qualify? You can either cooperate with the law enforcement authorities in another bigger case, testify in a different case or provide evidence against your co-defendants.
This means that to be able to utilize this method of keeping your record clean, you need to have something that the law enforcement authorities want. The Prosecutor will be quick to drop your charges and even provide you with appropriate protection if they can catch a ‘bigger fish’ with your help.
The best way to negotiate under this method is by letting an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney help you, as they will understand the consequences of your testimony better and make sure all your bases are covered.
3. Presenting Exculpatory Evidence
The Prosecutor needs to believe that you committed the offense to be able to charge you. But if you can provide any evidence, in the form of witnesses or physical evidence, that proves you did not commit the offense, the Prosecutor will get your charges dropped.
Therefore, it becomes extremely important that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as you have been charged with a crime. Because they will know what can form a convincing alibi or evidence to convince the Prosecutor of your innocence.
They will know exactly where to look and who to approach. They can prepare the arguments that will create enough doubt that the Prosecutor will have no choice but to let you walk away scot-free.
Your Best Approach Best on Crime Type
Whether you can get your charge dropped before the court date will first and foremost depend on your charge itself. Different crimes require different types of evidence, conditions, or witnesses that can help you walk away from your charges without damage. Let’s discuss the most common charges and how you can get them dropped without a trial.
How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed?
Acts of violence are always a tricky combination of circumstances and surroundings that lead to the action. But when family and people you love are involved, things escalate even quicker. The heavy flow of emotions and anger often leads to actions that you can regret for a long time.
But your personal issues can become all the more complicated if the police get involved. Domestic violence is a sensitive issue and the law is laid in a way to protect the victim at all costs. However, things are not always black and white, so there are ways to get even domestic violence charges dropped.
According to the Texas Penal Code, an act of family assault can lead to a misdemeanor or even a felony charge. So, how to get domestic violence charges dismissed? The best way to do that is by Presenting Exculpatory Evidence. Some other grounds that will lead the Prosecutor to drop your case are –
- Insufficient corroborating evidence of violence at the scene.
- Unlawfully obtained evidence.
- Inconsistency between statements.
- Unreasonable claims in the victim’s statement or statements.
- Lack of visible injuries.
- Personal motives against the defendant.
- Victim’s mental illness history.
- Victim’s use of drugs or alcohol.
- Victim’s lack of cooperation in building the case or testifying.
Once you hire an experienced Austin criminal lawyer, they will try to obtain the Victim’s Affidavit of Non-Prosecution that will state that the victim is no longer willing to proceed with the case along with the reasons why they made this decision.
The next step is for your lawyer to arrange a meeting with the prosecuting side where both the parties will review the affidavit or the evidence in hand. If the Prosecutor believes there is sufficient doubt against your charge, or there isn’t enough evidence to prove it in court, they might drop your charges with some conditions for you and the victim.
How to Get Reckless Driving Charges Dismissed?
There are many ways you can get the Prosecutor to dismiss your reckless driving charge before it reaches the courtroom. Some of the most common ways are –
- Getting Additional Driver’s Classes: This will create the impression that you are really trying to do the right thing. It will even look good if your charge has already reached the trial stage, and will get your sentence and fines lowered.
- Checking Car’s Speedometer: Your speeding charge might have been a result of a technical fault in your vehicle. You might have gotten some work done on your tires and it may have affected the calibration. If that’s the case, your lawyer can easily prove that the speeding wasn’t intentional or your fault at all.
- Finding Witnesses: If you can get witnesses to testify of your innocence, the Prosecutor wouldn’t have any grounds to proceed with the case anymore.
How to Get Theft Charges Dismissed?
Theft is defined in the Texas Penal Code to mean intentionally taking someone’s property from their possession without their express permission. Since it can lead to serious consequences, depending upon the property in question, it becomes imperative to understand ways of getting charges dropped before court date.
You can present Exculpatory Evidence proving your innocence with the help of your lawyer. Some of the arguments your lawyer can use to get charges dropped before court date are –
- You Are The Rightful Owner – If it can be proven that you owned the property in the first place, the prosecuting side wouldn’t have any need to proceed with the case. Your lawyer can find the correct evidence to establish your ownership over the property.
- Lack Of Intention – If it can be proven that you were not aware that you were in possession of the stolen property, your charges may get dropped. Intention is very important to constitute theft, and if it is lacking, the case will not stand.
- You Were Under Duress – If you were forced to commit the act of theft because of any threat to you or your family and it can be proven in front of the Prosecutor, they will get your charges dropped.
- Errors By The Enforcement Officers – If the search was conducted by the police without a proper warrant, or the arrest was not made following all the rules, the Prosecutor will have no choice but to get your charges dropped.
How to Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date in Texas?
It is a general misconception amongst people that once an arrest has been made, all there is to do is accept the charges and prepare for the trial. But that is not true, because you do have the option to intervene before the court date and get the charges dropped altogether, or at least changed to a lesser charge.
Once you are released on bail, you are given a date to appear before the court. While it is completely understandable to take some time to collect yourself and take in everything that is happening around you, it is also the time to act. The quicker, the better.
This is possibly your only chance to keep these charges from permanently getting prescribed on your record because once the trial begins, even if you win the case, it will appear in your background checks as a constant reminder of your worst life experience. Therefore, it is extremely pertinent to reach out to an Austin criminal defense attorney immediately after your release.
They will collect all the information surrounding your arrest and charges and will hit the ground running on the investigation. Police files are often unreliable and incomplete. Your lawyer can help you find more evidence and witnesses to convince the Prosecutor to drop your case before the trial begins.
Get Help With Your Charges Before Court
Don’t settle for inexperienced lawyers because this decision can make or break your life. Austin Criminal lawyer, James Gill has years of experience helping his clients keep their records squeaky clean. Talk to him today to understand your options.
Call to schedule a consultation at 512-448-4560. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.