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Nolle Prosequi And Other Anticlimactic Endings To Your Criminal Case


How would you feel if you were facing criminal charges, preparing for trial or trying to decide whether to accept a plea deal, and suddenly your criminal defense lawyer called you to tell you that your case was over?  Until you enter a guilty plea or until the jury returns a verdict at your trial, the outcome of your case can go in any direction.  At any point between your arrest and your trial, the State Attorney’s office can simply say “never mind” and terminate your criminal case.  When the state drops your charges without a trial, it is not the same as getting acquitted.  In some ways, it is even better, but in other ways, it is less certain.  To find out more about apparently painless endings to criminal cases, such as no information and nolle prosequi, contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

What Is the Difference Between a No Information and a Nolle Prosequi?

According to Florida law, the prosecution has the discretion to decline to prosecute a defendant who has been arrested or even a defendant who has formally received criminal charges.  The first scenario is called a “no information.”  It happens when the State Attorney’s office reviews the reports related to the arrest and decides not to file a charging document, which is called an information.  In cases where the case stems from a long criminal investigation and the presentation of evidence before a grand jury, the charging document is called an indictment.  The state might file a no information if they determine that the officer did not have probable cause to make the arrest.  They also sometimes file no information documents if the charges are for a misdemeanor, and the state decides that it is in the interest of justice not to pursue the case, so that it can free up resources for felony cases.

A nolle prosequi is similar to a no information, except that it happens after the state has already filed charges.  “Nolle prosequi” is a Latin phrase that means “unwilling to prosecute.”  If the state files a no information or nolle prosequi, the court no longer has jurisdiction over the case; the prosecution’s decision is final, at least for the time being.  “No double jeopardy” does not apply in the event of a no information or nolle prosequi, only when there is a trial.  Therefore, it is possible for the state to charge you again for the same crime, as long as the statute of limitations has not expired.  If that happens, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to persuade the court that it is worthwhile to pursue the same charges again.  Before the court resumes a case that the prosecution previously terminated, your lawyer has a chance to argue why the court should not resume it.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.

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