Fri 09 Dec, 2022 Criminal Defense

How to Get a Criminal Case Dismissed in NYC

If you are facing criminal charges in New York City, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed. Cases are dismissed for a variety of reasons, such as when a person is provably innocent. Cases are sometimes dismissed for technical reasons, even when a person is guilty. 

I’m going to go over the main ways you can get a criminal case dismissed in NYC, including exculpatory evidence, legal insufficiency, constitutional violations, and speedy trial violations.

Exculpatory Evidence

You may be able to get your case dismissed if you have exculpatory evidence that proves that you did not commit the crimes for which you are charged. For instance, let’s say you are charged with domestic violence and the alleged victim says that you assaulted them at a specific street corner at a specific time, but you know that you were just in a heated argument that was never physical. If your criminal defense attorney were to subpoena video footage from nearby stores, and the obtained video footage shows you and the complainant in an argument that never became physical, then you have exculpatory evidence showing that the incident as alleged by the complainant never occurred.

Typically, in this situation, it would be the prosecution—not the judge—that, after reviewing the video evidence, would agree to dismiss the case. If the prosecution would not agree to dismiss the case, you could ask the judge to dismiss the case in the interest of justice, although such dismissals by the court are surprisingly rare. The unfortunate truth is that if the prosecution is not willing to dismiss the case in this sort of scenario, your ultimate remedy will be to go to trial and show the jury the video that shows your innocence. That said, if the video clearly shows your innocence, most prosecutors will agree to dismiss the case because it won’t be worth their time to further prosecute a case they should know they will lose at trial.

On the other hand, if the exculpatory evidence does not clearly show your innocence, then that evidence may not be enough for the prosecution to agree to dismiss the case, although it could be enough to win at trial or to also get the prosecution to offer a much better deal. For instance, using the domestic violence example, let’s say that the incident wasn’t on video, so you don’t have objective proof that you didn’t commit the crime. However, let’s say that the complainant later tells you and the prosecution that she was very drunk and she doesn’t actually remember what happened. Although this statement isn’t enough to prove your innocence, the prosecution will likely realize that it may create reasonable doubt as to your guilt and the prosecution could very likely lose at trial. In this event, the prosecution may still choose to drop charges or offer a much better deal due to the weakness of their case.

Legal Insufficiency

A criminal case can be dismissed in NYC for legal insufficiency when your attorney files a motion to the court that argues the allegations, even if true, don’t amount to a crime. In a nutshell, this argument says, the prosecution is alleging that I did X, but so what, even if I did that, that is not a crime and therefore the case should be dismissed. For instance, let’s say you are charged with Stalking in the Fourth Degree. The alleged victim says that every weekday you are on the same subway platform as them at the same time, and you follow them onto the train and make eye contact. You then exit the train at the same stop, and you follow the person into the same building each day, although you get off on a different floor. 

And you say, yeah, that’s right. You apparently live in the same neighborhood as someone who works 9-5 in the same skyscraper as you. You’re not stalking this person, you’re going to work. In this scenario, your lawyer could file a motion to dismiss, claiming that all the elements of stalking aren’t established. For instance, Stalking requires the element that the defendant engages in a course of conduct with no valid purpose. In this hypothetical, you have a valid purpose—to go to work.

Constitutional Violations

A case can also get dismissed when there is a constitutional violation, such as when the police unlawfully search you.

For instance, say you are charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon after the police search your car and find a gun. If the police did not have legal justification to search your car, then the gun they recovered could be suppressed as evidence. 

When evidence gets suppressed, that means the government cannot use it against you at trial. So, when a gun gets suppressed from evidence because it is the result of an unlawful search, the government cannot tell the jury that a gun was recovered from you, nor can it show the jury the gun. When evidence is suppressed, prosecutors will typically agree to dismiss a case when they cannot prove their case without the suppressed evidence.

Speedy Trial Violations

One of the most common ways that a criminal case gets dismissed in New York is through C.P.L. 30.30, which is the speedy trial statute in New York. If the prosecution is not ready for trial soon enough after your first appearance in court, then your case can be dismissed. The length of time by which the prosecution must be ready for trial depends on the seriousness of the charge. The prosecution has more time to be ready for more serious cases. Oftentimes, prosecutors are so overworked that they don’t have the time to be ready for all their cases. Because of that, sometimes they don’t prioritize petty cases, and petty misdemeanors will be dismissed because the prosecution doesn’t get ready for trial in time.

Need Help? Contact Our Office Today

If you’ve been charged with a crime in New York City, give me a call for a free consultation. I can assess your case to determine the best strategy in an effort to get your case dismissed. Contact us today.