June 28, 2022 | Court Procedure
Saying that a case has been “disposed” means that it has been closed. A case can be disposed for many reasons. In some cases, the case can never be reopened. In other cases, the case can be reopened under certain circumstances, such as the discovery of new evidence. Following is a list of the most common ways of disposing of a case.
Dismissal With Prejudice
If the judge dismisses criminal charges against you “with prejudice,” it means two things:
- You walk free; and
- The state can never file the same charges against you again.
This is perhaps the best possible “disposal” of a case, at least from the point of view of a criminal defendant.
Dismissal Without Prejudice
If the judge dismisses your criminal charges “without prejudice”, it means you walk free, but the prosecutor can theoretically file charges against you again based on the same course of conduct. Often, dismissals without prejudice happen because there is some technical problem in the prosecution’s case against you. If the prosecutor fixes the problem, you might end up in court again.
A Guilty Plea
If you plead guilty, there is no need for a trial, because the purpose of a trial is to prove that you are guilty. Most guilty pleas are the result of plea bargains. In a plea bargain, you agree with the prosecution to plead guilty to a lesser offense, and the prosecutor agrees to recommend that the judge accept your plea. The judge doesn’t have to follow the prosecutor’s recommendation, but they usually do. Plea bargains far outnumber actual trials.
A Guilty Verdict
If you plead not guilty, a trial ensues. If the jury finds you guilty and you decline to appeal within 30 days of sentencing, your case is disposed, and you can no longer contest the verdict. Some loopholes exist for prisoners (habeas corpus, for example), but they are few, and they rarely succeed.
You Appeal and Lose
In a Kentucky criminal case, you can normally appeal only one time. If you lose your appeal, the only way you can continue your case is to take your case to the federal courts based on a federal issue (violation of the US Constitution, for example). This rarely happens.
A “Not Guilty” Verdict
If a jury (or a judge, if you elect to forgo a jury trial) finds you “not guilty,” there are few grounds upon which a prosecutor can appeal the verdict.
The US Constitution has a doctrine known as double jeopardy, under which you cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offense. The only loophole in double jeopardy is that you can be prosecuted under both state and federal law for certain offenses.
Lack of Jurisdiction
Your case can be disposed if the court has no jurisdiction to hear your case. The court might be located in the wrong state, for example. In this situation, the court will dismiss the charges against you. This might not do you much good, however, because you will probably end up facing the same charges in another court (whichever court has jurisdiction).
The Prosecutor Formally Withdraws the Charges
The prosecution changes its mind about pursuing your case. Perhaps a key witness refuses to cooperate, for example, or the prosecution’s investigation raises serious doubts about your guilt.
You Complete Your Sentence
Once you have served your sentence, including:
- Jail or prison time;
- Fines and court costs;
- Probation or parole;
- Other penalties such as restitution, community service, etc.;
You have “paid your debt to society,” and your case is disposed. You will still have a criminal record, however.
A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Resolve Your Charges in Your Favor
As illustrated above, there are many ways that your case can be disposed. Some of these ways favor you, while others are disastrous. Never forget that your future is at stake. To maximize the odds in your favor, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight on your behalf.
Contact the Lexington Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Lexington
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507