Criminal Defense Attorney San Diego - The Difference between Dismissal and Nolle Prosequi

If you have ever been involved in a criminal case, being to court or have watched shows that feature court proceedings, you may have heard about the nolle prosequi. This is a Latin phrase. It means ‘will no longer prosecute’. When used, it can lead to the full or partial dismissal of the charges by the prosecution. The accused may walk. However, there are some states that don’t use this phrase. They simply use the word ‘dismissal’. A good criminal defense attorney San Diego will be familiar with the both terms; nolle prosequi and dismissal.

After the prosecutor has decided not to proceed with the prosecution or when they have discontinued a part of the prosecution, they may use the term nolle prosequi. Often, the word you will hear a criminal defense attorney San Diego or a judge using in the courtroom is ‘nol prossed’ or he may simply say dismissed. The ‘nol pross’ may dismiss all charges or some of them.

Reasons for dismissal

There are many reasons why your criminal defense attorney San Diego or the prosecution may dismiss. The reasons include:

  • Evidence reevaluation
  • The emergence of new evidence
  • Failure of a witness to cooperate
  • Desire to give the defendant a second chance


Tim is arrested for assault with a rifle. Officers arrest him and take statements from witnesses who say they saw him firing at someone. The prosecutor reads the police report and decides to press charges. A few weeks later, the gun is found but forensic testing find the fingerprints of someone else other than Tim on the rifle. In this case, the prosecution has no option but to dismiss. All in all, even if you are sure you didn’t commit the crime you are being charged for; always get a good criminal defense attorney San Diego. He will help find the flaws in the case.

Effects of a dismissal

The normal effect of a dismissal is to leave matters as though you were never charged in the first place. All in all, the case is not usually thrown away completely. The prosecutor can find new evidence which may lead to new charges. The decision to let go of the case therefore rests with the prosecutor. To press charges again after nolle prosequi, the prosecution may have to file a new charging document. Keep your criminal defense attorney San Diego close at all times.

There are some dismissals that are done with prejudice. In this case, when the prosecutor dismisses the charges, he can never re-file.

As the defendant, there is nothing more relieving than the dismissal of charges by the prosection. However, even if you did not commit the crime, you need to hire only the best criminal defense attorney San Diego. Your attorney understands the law profoundly and he will identify the flaws in the charging documents or even find new evidence that will subsequently lead to the dismissal of the case. Avoid the newbie. Hire the most experienced and reputable criminal appeals lawyer in San Diego.

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