Can a Case Be Dismissed at the Pretrial Hearing? - Spolin & Dukes (2023)

What Is a Pretrial Hearing?

Once being arrested and declaring a “not guilty” plea, the next step in your legal journey is to proceed with what is called a pretrial hearing. It is important to understand the value of such a process because more often than not, cases are resolved at these pretrial hearings. In fact, only 5 percent of cases actually go to trial. The rest end in a pretrial settlement.

  1. What Is a Pretrial Hearing?
  2. What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?
  3. Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal at the Hearing
  4. When Is a Case Dismissal Appropriate?
  5. Top Criminal Defense Lawyers Work to Get Charges Dismissed

What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?

A pretrial hearing is a session either requested by a party or arranged by the court, during which both parties meet to raise any issues they might have with the case before it goes to trial. For instance, it is during a pretrial hearing that parties may move to either admit or suppress certain pieces of evidence for trial. More commonly, however, a pretrial hearing is where attorneys and a judge decide if a case is even worth a trial.

Your attorney will likely submit a Motion to Dismiss your entire case. They will make arguments regarding how you were treated, how the evidence was handled, and whether the prosecutor can meet their burden of proof that you even committed a crime. The judge will rule on the Motion to Dismiss during the pretrial hearing. If it is granted, you will be free to go. Your charges will be dropped. However, if the Motion to Dismiss is not granted, then you will continue through the legal process towards trial. That doesn’t mean your case cannot be resolved in another manner, though.

There are other options for resolving the case at the pretrial hearing as well. It’s common for the prosecutor to make a plea bargain offer to avoid going to trial. It’s important to work with a criminal defense lawyer who knows how to negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the best plea agreement offer to reduce our charges. Attorney Aaron Spolin of Spolin Law P.C. is a former prosecutor. He knows how they think, and he will use that knowledge to get you the best outcome possible at the pretrial hearing.

  1. What Is a Pretrial Hearing?
  2. What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?
  3. Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal at the Hearing
  4. When Is a Case Dismissal Appropriate?
  5. Top Criminal Defense Lawyers Work to Get Charges Dismissed

Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal at the Hearing

A case can certainly be dismissed at a pretrial hearing. In terms of case dismissal, there are two types: voluntary and involuntary.

If a case is voluntarily dismissed, this means that the dismissal was proposed by the prosecuting counsel. This might happen if material evidence is being excluded or suppressed and they no longer have enough evidence to support your charges. Your attorney may file a Motion to Suppress Evidence with this goal in mind.

For involuntary case dismissal, on the other hand, the defense is the party seeking dismissal, which is then granted by a judge acting against the wishes of the prosecution. To dismiss a case involuntarily, the defense will need to file a California Penal Code 995 PC “Motion to Dismiss.” This motion essentially asks the court to “set aside” the criminal complaint filed by the government and dismiss all or part of the charges.

  1. What Is a Pretrial Hearing?
  2. What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?
  3. Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal at the Hearing
  4. When Is a Case Dismissal Appropriate?
  5. Top Criminal Defense Lawyers Work to Get Charges Dismissed

When Is a Case Dismissal Appropriate?

A dismissal is appropriate if either party believes a charge has been filed unjustly. There are many instances for which this may be the case. Below is a list of possible reasons for dismissal.

1. Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest

Before a police officer can arrest someone, they must have probable cause to do so. If defense counsel is able to prove that the arresting officer had no proper reason to suspect illegal activity or arrest their client, a motion to dismiss might be fitting.

2. Illegal Stop or Search

An individual may move to dismiss a case if they believe they were illegally stopped by a law enforcement officer for a reason other than a suspicion of crime. For instance, being stopped by an officer for purely your race or gender falls under such a category.

3. Failure to Read Miranda Rights

During an arrest, police officers are required to read the offender their Miranda Rights: the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney and be appointed one if you cannot pay, and the right to have an attorney present while being questioned.

If these are not read to the accused, any statements they make to the police are invalid and may put the case as a whole in danger of dismissal.

4. Insufficient Evidence

Before a case can go to trial, the prosecutor must present the evidence they plan to use in trial. The evidence they bring forward must be objective and factual. If the court decides that the evidence is insufficient and is not enough to build a case, the charges can be dismissed and will not go to trial.

5. Unavailable Witness

In some cases, the prosecuting attorney may have difficulty producing witnesses to take the stand. If this happens, the prosecution might not have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and they may need to dismiss the charges altogether.

  1. What Is a Pretrial Hearing?
  2. What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?
  3. Voluntary and Involuntary Dismissal at the Hearing
  4. When Is a Case Dismissal Appropriate?
  5. Top Criminal Defense Lawyers Work to Get Charges Dismissed

Top Criminal Defense Lawyers Work to Get Charges Dismissed

The award-winning California criminal defense lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. always work hard to get their clients’ charges dismissed. That is one of our primary goals. We do this by:

  • Evaluating all the evidence.
  • Attacking the prosecutor’s arguments.
  • Using the prosecutor’s evidence against their case.
  • Filing effective legal motions to dismiss and to suppress evidence.

Attorney Aaron Spolin and his team of legal professionals will do everything possible to get you the best outcome in your case. Call us today at (310) 424-5816.


Can a Case Be Dismissed at the Pretrial Hearing? - Spolin & Dukes? ›

Yes. It is possible for a case to be dismissed at the pretrial hearing. During the hearing, the judge will likely issue a decision regarding any pretrial motions to dismiss the case. Thus, if those motions are successful, your case may be dismissed at the pretrial.

What is one reason prosecutors may decide to dismiss cases? ›

Because the prosecutor filed the charge, they also have the discretion to dismiss it if they believe the facts and circumstances warrant it. Likewise, a judge can dismiss the case if they find no legal basis for the charge, if the defendant's rights have been violated, or if the state has failed to prove its case.

Why are pre trial motions important? ›

These motions can affect many aspects of a case, such as whether evidence can be used at trial, where the trial occurs, and what charges will be prosecuted. The judge hearing the case decides pretrial motions after both sides have an opportunity to argue the motion in court.

How do you win a trial? ›

Tips for Success in the Courtroom
  1. Meet Your Deadlines. ...
  2. Choose a Judge or Jury Trial. ...
  3. Learn the Elements of Your Case. ...
  4. Make Sure Your Evidence Is Admissible. ...
  5. Prepare a Trial Notebook.
  6. Learn the Ropes.
  7. Watch Some Trials. ...
  8. Be Respectful.

What is a motion to dismiss in California criminal law? ›

In California state criminal procedure, a motion to dismiss pursuant to Penal Code Section 995 gives the defendant the option of moving a trial court to dismiss their criminal case following a preliminary hearing at which the defendant was held to answer on one or more criminal charges.

What would be a good reason why a case should be dismissed? ›

There are many reasons for a court to dismiss a case, both procedural and substantive. FRCP 12 provides the list of grounds for dismissal in federal court, which includes a lack of jurisdiction, improper service of process, failure to join a party, and a plaintiff's failure to state a claim for relief.

What is the most common reason cases are rejected by prosecutors? ›

Insufficient evidence.

A prosecutor may drop a criminal charge if it is determined that the evidence against the accused isn't strong enough. Or, perhaps new evidence is found which undercuts the prosecution's case against the defendant.

What are the 3 most common pre trial motions? ›

Common pre-trial motions include:
  • Motion to Dismiss – an attempt to get the judge to dismiss a charge or the case. ...
  • Motion to Suppress – an attempt to keep certain statements or evidence from being introduced as evidence. ...
  • Motion for Change of Venue – may be made for various reasons including pre-trial publicity.

What are the pros of pre trial detention? ›

The results show that by relying on the cost-benefit model provided here to formulate pretrial-detention decisions, judges could unlock significant societal benefits— including approximately $78 billion in economic value, increased safety, and, potentially, more equitable outcomes for detainees.

What are the 3 most common post trial motions? ›

There are several different types of post-judgment motions, but the most common are motions for new trial, motions to vacate, and motions to set-aside. Motions for new trial, motions to vacate, and motions to set-aside are the three most common post-judgment motions.

What is the hardest case to beat in court? ›

Three of The Most Difficult Charges to Defend
  • Crimes Against Minors. It can be challenging to defend clients who have been accused of crimes against minors. ...
  • Murder, First Degree. The most severe criminal charge that anybody may face is first-degree murder. ...
  • White Collar Crimes.

How do you get a judge to rule in your favor? ›

Proving Your Case

Whatever the reason for being at court, you must convince the judge or magistrate that he or she should rule in your favor. This is done by providing sufficient documentary evidence and witness testimony. There are different standards of proof for various types of cases.

How do you impress a judge in court? ›

6 Tips to Make a Good First Impression in Court
  1. Know the judge.
  2. Be organized with your paperwork.
  3. Dress Appropriately.
  4. Stay calm in front of the jury.
  5. Keep eye contact with the jury.
  6. Don't be late to court.
Jul 12, 2023

Which of the following are proper grounds for a motion to dismiss? ›

The venue, or location where the lawsuit was filed, is not proper. The complaint was not served on the defendant properly. The plaintiff failed to name a necessary party in the complaint, or named the wrong party.

How do I dismiss a case in California? ›

Note: Your court's self-help center may be able to help you.
  1. Fill out your court forms. ...
  2. File your forms at the courthouse where you filed your case. ...
  3. Serve the other side with a copy of the dismissal papers. ...
  4. File the Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service (Form CIV-120)

What is a motion to dismiss called in California? ›

Introduction. We litigate a lot of cases in California. Both in state courts and federal courts. After a Plaintiff files a lawsuit, a Defendant can either ANSWER the lawsuit (by answering the allegations and raising affirmative defenses) or they can file a DEMURRER (which is basically a motion to dismiss the case).

Why do prosecutors sometimes choose not to prosecute? ›

Prosecutors are supposed to both enforce the law and "do justice." Doing justice means that a prosecutor occasionally decides not to prosecute a case (or files less severe charges) because the interests of justice require it, even if the facts of the case might support a conviction.

What is a prosecutor's choice to drop charges after filing them called? ›

If a prosecutor drops charges after filing them, it is called. C. nolle prosequi.

What is one reason that prosecutors engage in plea bargaining? ›


What is it called when a prosecutor decides not to prosecute? ›

Nolle prosequi as a declaration can be made by a prosecutor in a criminal case either before or during trial, resulting in the prosecutor declining to further pursue the case against the defendant. Courts seldom challenge applications for nolle prosequi.

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