Different Ways to Resolve a Criminal Case
The first, and best way after an arrest, is a “no-action,” meaning the State Attorney’s Office has decided to not file formal charges (an “Information”) or seek an indictment in the case and will take no further action to prosecute a particular person with a crime.
The second is a “nolle prosequi,” (commonly referred to as a “dismissal”) means the State Attorney’s Office, after initially deciding to prosecute someone for a crime, has then decided to dismiss the filed charges. There are several reasons why a prosecutor will dismiss charges, such as witness unavailability or insufficient evidence.
The third is an acquittal. An acquittal comes after a bench or jury trial, when the trier-of-fact (either the Judge in a bench trial or a Jury in a jury trial) has decided the State has not presented sufficient evidence to believe a crime was committed by this particular person beyond and to the exclusion of any and all reasonable doubt.
The fourth – and most common – is through a negotiated plea with the State Attorney’s Office. In this situation, your attorney should diligently try to get you an offer that works for you, your circumstances, and the facts of your case. Through a negotiated plea, you may end up with either a withhold of adjudication or an adjudication (or conviction). To understand the differences between a withhold of adjudication and a conviction, click HERE. With a plea agreement, you will be required to change your plea of not guilty to either guilty or no-contest/ “nolo contendere” – meaning you do not contest the charges as stated.
The fifth is through a change of plea and requesting a sentence from the presiding Judge, rather than an offer from the State Attorney’s Office. In this circumstance a plea will be changed from not guilty to either guilty or no contest. The presiding Judge will hear evidence and argument as to sentencing from both your attorney and the State, then make a determination of the sentence most appropriate given the circumstances. The Judge will decide the terms of your sentence and whether you will be convicted (adjudicated guilty) or whether adjudication will be withheld.
Posted in: Criminal