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5 Ways to Get Criminal Charges Dismissed in Ohio

Posted On: January 31st, 2024   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
File with red dismissed stamp on it being signed

Navigating the complexities of criminal charges in Ohio can be an overwhelming and anxiety-inducing experience. The uncertainty of the outcome, the potential consequences if convicted, and the daunting task of clearing your name can cast a long shadow. But this is when you should contact an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney.

No one should be forced to accept an unjust conviction or fall victim to unwarranted charges. There is a lot a lawyer can do to help your case – up to and including getting your case dismissed or charges dropped.

How to Get Charges Dropped or Dismissed in Ohio

At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we pride ourselves on our record of assisting clients in not just navigating but successfully overcoming their legal challenges. Our Columbus defense lawyers have helped many clients get their criminal charges dismissed, reduced, and proven innocent.

Here are the top five ways your attorney may be able to accomplish this goal for you.

1. Show a Lack of Probable Cause

For an arrest to be lawful, the police must have more than just a hunch or suspicion; they require concrete, objective facts that reasonably suggest your involvement in a crime. This requirement is called “probable cause,” and it’s a safeguard against arbitrary arrests, ensuring that there’s a substantial basis for the allegations against you.

A Probable Cause Example

Imagine a scenario where a hit-and-run on Morse Road in Columbus, and a witness describes the offending vehicle as a red four-door sedan. If you happen to drive a similar car, this could lead the police to suspect your involvement, constituting probable cause.

But, if you own a black sports car, your vehicle bears no resemblance to the one described. In this instance, stopping and arresting you for the hit-and-run lacks probable cause. This discrepancy forms the basis for challenging the legality of your arrest.

How Lawyers Demonstrate a Lack of Probable Cause

In such situations, it may seem easy to just explain to the police that you drive a different car. But your criminal defense attorney plays a crucial role. They can meticulously review the circumstances of your arrest, scrutinizing the facts and evidence, or lack thereof, to determine if probable cause was genuinely present.

Once they can legally deconstruct the situation and demonstrate how it was based on insufficient grounds. This may require vigorously arguing the point in court, but if successful, you could have the charges against you dismissed.

Does Probable Cause Apply?

Infographic, headline "Determine Probable Cause". Following the headline, there is a circle graphic with lines coming out pointing what your attorney will do to determine if there is probable cause: Review Initial Incident, Initial Evidence, Gather Evidence, Scrutinize the Facts, and Find Discrepancy. After the graphic, smaller headline reads: Your attorney can demonstrate a lack of probable cause. Paragraph below: They can meticulously review the circumstances of your arrest, scrutinizing the facts and evidence, or lack thereof, to determine if probable cause was genuinely present.

2. Is There Enough Evidence?

A fundamental principle of our justice system ensures that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty of a crime. So, to secure your conviction in a criminal case, prosecutors must present sufficient evidence to support the allegation that you committed the crime. This evidence must be compelling enough to convince a grand jury or a judge that there’s a reasonable basis to proceed with the charges.

A Case of Insufficient Evidence

Consider a case where you are accused of theft. The prosecution alleges that you stole items from a store, but they have only circumstantial evidence, such as your presence near the store around the time of the incident. However, there’s no direct evidence linking you to the crime – no surveillance footage, eyewitness testimony, or physical evidence. In such a situation, the lack of concrete evidence can lead to the dismissal of charges, as the prosecution does not meet the burden of proof.

Scrutinizing Evidence Can Be Hard

Not everyone has the legal training to determine if specific legal standards are met – except skilled attorneys. A criminal defense attorney can review all the evidence to identify weaknesses and gaps. By highlighting the insufficiency or unreliability of certain key pieces of evidence, your attorney is in a much better position to get charges dismissed or dropped.

Evidence Types in Criminal Cases

Infographic headline "Evidence Types in a Criminal Case" Physical, Testimonial, and Circumstantial

3. The Search Was Illegal

The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is guaranteed in the Constitution. Police can only search you, your vehicle, or your residence under specific conditions. These conditions are grounded in the necessity of having a reasonable belief, or probable cause, that you have been involved in criminal activity. Searches based on discriminatory factors like race, gender, religion, or mere suspicions are not legally justified.

Illegal Searches Are Not Uncommon

Imagine a scenario where the police come to your house, enter, and search your home without a warrant, alleging drug possession. However, no evidence of drug-related activity, such as recent informant tips or suspicious behavior, was present before the search. While in the house, they noticed a prescription medication that wasn’t issued to you. In this case, the initial search lacks legal standing and would likely be considered an invasion of your privacy rights.

Spotting an Illegal Search

Aside from the absence of a warrant, in cases of illegal searches, it can be difficult for an average citizen to examine the circumstances to determine if a search was conducted lawfully. But if your attorney assesses the matter and the search is illegal, they can argue for suppressing any evidence obtained. This can often lead to the dismissal of charges, as the prosecution’s case may be significantly weakened without the evidence gathered from the unlawful search.

A Search Legality Checklist

Infographic checklist titled "Signed of an Illegal Search"<br /> - No Warrant /The Warrant Was Invalid - There Was No Explicit Consent - No Probable Cause Exists - The Search Was Out of Scope of the Warrant - Your Right to Privacy Was Violated

4. Prosecutor Discretion

You might be surprised to learn that prosecuting attorneys can dismiss certain charges.

Factors in a Prosecutor’s Decision to Dismiss

  • The Nature of the Charges: Minor offenses are more likely to be dismissed, especially when compared to more serious allegations.
  • Your Criminal Record: Individuals with no prior criminal record, or a very minimal one, stand a better chance of having their charges dismissed.
  • Re-arrest or New Charges: The prosecutor can refile the original charges if you’re arrested or charged with another crime within a year.
  • The Victim’s Stance: In cases where the victim may find testifying too traumatic or damaging, the prosecutor might dismiss the charges, respecting the victim’s mental and emotional well-being.

Prosecutorial Discretion in Action

Suppose you’re facing a minor trespassing charge and have no prior criminal record. Your defense attorney might approach the prosecutor, highlighting your clean history and the minor nature of the offense. They could negotiate terms involving community service or a diversion program instead of prosecution. In such cases, prosecutors often agree to dismiss charges, considering it an equitable resolution.

5. There are Jurisdictional Issues

Jurisdiction refers to the authority granted to a court to hear a case and make legal decisions. So, there are certain situations where the state’s prosecutor may not have the right to listen to your case, including federal prosecutors who lack the jurisdiction to do so. Federal and state courts are different. If your case is heard in a court without proper jurisdiction, your charges could be dismissed or your conviction overturned.

How Boundary Issues Can End in Dismissal

Consider that you are charged with a crime that occurred in another state, which typically falls under federal jurisdiction. However, if a state prosecutor, without proper federal jurisdiction, attempts to prosecute the case, the charges may be subject to dismissal.

Your Lawyer Can Point Out Jurisdiction Issues

A defense attorney will examine the specifics of your case to determine the appropriate jurisdiction. This includes analyzing the nature of the alleged crime, where it was committed, and other jurisdictional markers. If they discover that the case has been improperly filed in the wrong court, they will move to have it dismissed.

Jurisdictional Authority in Ohio

Infographic headline "State, Federal & Concurrent Jurisdiction in Ohio" 
Two circles with overlapping area in the middle that has a bullet and line extending from it. 
Left Circle labeled "Federal jurisdiction"
Right Circle labeled
"State jurisdiction"
Overlapping portion labeled "Concurrent jurisdiction" with brief description: Exists when both state and federal laws are applicable, like interstate fraud, certain firearm charges, and drug trafficking, allowing either authority to prosecute, but generally, only one will pursue the case to avoid double jeopardy.

There’s a Difference: Dismissed vs. Dropped Charges

While both dismissed or dropped charges are desirable, there is a distinction.

Charges can be dropped at any point by the prosecutor or an arresting officer after you are arrested. Dropped charges usually indicate that the prosecution does not feel they can get a guilty verdict. Should the prosecutor file charges but a judge determines insufficient evidence at the preliminary hearing, the judge may dismiss the charges.

Judges cannot drop charges, but they can dismiss them.

Contact LHA for Help Getting Charged Dropped or Dismissed

You don’t have to spend your days terrified of your future. The Columbus criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates may be able to get your charges dismissed, dropped, or reduced.

We’ve helped countless people in situations like yours. Let us look at what our legal team can do for you.

Call (614) 500-3836 for a no-cost, risk-free case evaluation today, or use our contact form.

I can FINALLY breathe easy now. I want to thank Mr. Bowen and all the attorneys that helped me with this case.

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