Possible to Have Charges Dropped?

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you are probably wondering if your charges can be dropped or withdrawn by the crown prosecutor. 

Here are some of the frequent questions I receive on this topic:

Is it possible to have criminal charges dropped?

Yes. Criminal charges can indeed be dropped, this is what is typically called “withdrawn” in court.  However, it is important to know that this decision is within the sole discretion of the crown prosecutor. 

A crown prosecutor may withdraw charges for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • There is no case against you.
  • It is not in the public interest to continue prosecuting the charges against you.
  • There is clear evidence to exonerate you.
  • There is insufficient evidence against you to sustain a conviction.

What if the complainant (i.e. the alleged victim) wants to drop the charges against me? 

Perhaps surprisingly, the fact that the complainant wants to withdraw his or her complaint still does not necessarily dictate whether the charges against you will be withdrawn. It remains a decision for the crown prosecutor.  

However, having an uncooperative complainant usually does not help the crown with their ability to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly where the complainant’s evidence is pertinent to the crown’s case against you. If the complainant has changed his or her mind and does not want to proceed, and/or where the complainant changes their evidence, the crown may decide to withdraw the charges 

Nonetheless, it bears repeating that the decision whether to withdraw a charge remains firmly with the crown at all times.

This is where my experience as a criminal defence lawyer works to your advantage. I will be able to guide you through what needs to be done in order to assist with negotiating for a withdrawal of the charge. 

What is the legal effect of having the charges against me withdrawn?

If the crown decides to withdraw charges, then this has several important legal outcomes:

  • The legal proceedings against you come to an end. You are no longer obliged to attend court, file documents, consult with your lawyer to mount a defence, or adhere to court procedures. 
  • You will not have a criminal conviction in connection with the charge that was withdrawn.
  • The crown will not be allowed to prosecute you a second (or subsequent) time for the same offence. 

What are my best chances for getting the charges against me withdrawn?

As your criminal defence lawyer, I will recommend several things to you which will help me to negotiate a withdrawal of the charges against you. Where applicable, this may include counselling, and restitution to the complainant. 

At this stage of the proceedings it is wise to have the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer like me. I can help you explore all the possible solutions and effectively negotiate with the crown towards a withdrawal of your charges.

Is withdrawing the charges the same as having the charges “stayed”?

Having the charges against you stayed is different from having them withdrawn by the crown. The term “stayed” is similar in meaning to “suspended”. It means that the crown has – at least temporarily – decided to not continue prosecuting your case. 

The difference between a stay and withdrawal of charges is this: A stay temporarily keeps the possibility of pursuing the charge alive; within one year of the stay, the crown may decide to resume the prosecution. After one year of the stay, the crown can no longer resume the prosecution. 

However, it is uncommon for prosecutors to re-institute charges where a stay of proceedings has been instituted. 

Call me, Susan Karpa, an experienced criminal lawyer.

If you are in any situation where you are facing criminal charges, contact me so that I can fight the charges for you! I can give you immediate advice and I will work towards getting your charges dropped.

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