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How Likely Is It That Misdemeanor Charges Are Reduced or Dropped?

Posted on July 8, 2023 in General

There are three categories of criminal charges in Arizona: minor offense, misdemeanor and felony. The potential penalties for a conviction increase with the classification of the crime. Having a misdemeanor reduced to a minor offense or dropped entirely could protect you from serious criminal consequences. If you have been charged with any type of misdemeanor crime, contact AZ Defenders to find out how our Phoenix misdemeanor defense attorney can help.

When Will the Courts Agree to Reduce or Dismiss a Misdemeanor Charge?

In Arizona, the courts may reduce or dismiss a misdemeanor charge in a few different circumstances. There are two types of dismissals: voluntary and involuntary. A voluntary dismissal means the prosecutor or district attorney has chosen to dismiss the case. This could occur if the alleged victim decides not to press charges, for example, or if the prosecution realizes it has the wrong defendant. Involuntary dismissal occurs when a judge dismisses the case despite objections from the prosecution.  

A defense attorney in Arizona may file a motion to dismiss a misdemeanor charge on one of the following legal bases: 

  • Lack of evidence
  • Wrong jurisdiction
  • Violation of the right to a speedy trial
  • Expired statute of limitations
  • Error in charging the defendant
  • The prosecution has failed to comply with a court order
  • Double jeopardy

If it is not possible to have a misdemeanor dismissed, a lawyer can fight to have the charge reduced to a minor offense. This could be possible if you have a clean criminal record and this is your first offense, or if the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime are minor (e.g., no harm caused to any victims). Having your charge reduced could protect you from more serious penalties that are associated with a misdemeanor compared to a minor infraction, such as jail time.

charged with a misdemeanor

Case Dismissal With vs. Without Prejudice

If a misdemeanor case gets dismissed, it will be defined as either dismissed with or without prejudice. This refers to whether or not the case can be reopened at a later date. If a case is dismissed with prejudice, it is closed for good and cannot be reopened. This is typically in the defendant’s best interests. If it is dismissed without prejudice, it may be reopened in the future if there are any updates to the case.

Can You Improve Your Chances of Having a Misdemeanor Charge Dropped?

The odds of misdemeanor charges being dismissed or reduced depend on each case. If you are being charged with a misdemeanor in Arizona, the best way to protect yourself is by hiring a criminal defense attorney to strategize a defense that is tailored to you and your unique situation. An attorney can decrease your odds of facing a misdemeanor conviction with a smart legal strategy. 

Your lawyer will search for all available tactics to use to reduce your misdemeanor to a minor offense or have the case dropped. This may include filing motions to have evidence suppressed or ruled as inadmissible, then submitting an insufficient evidence argument to have the case dismissed before it ever goes to court. 

A criminal defense attorney at AZ Defenders can provide pre-file representation, such as meeting with a prosecutor to work out a plea bargain with reduced charges and penalties. It may also be possible to negotiate a pre-trial diversion program that allows your charges to be dismissed if you take a course, such as alcohol counseling or anger management. An attorney will make use of every possible route to protect your future if you are facing a misdemeanor.