If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in California, you might wonder about possible legal maneuvers to get it dismissed. The Simmrin Law Group can help you understand Penal Code 991 motions and how they apply to your case.
These motions can allow a lawyer to get misdemeanor charges dismissed before a criminal trial. A PC 991 motion requires the court to look for probable cause before proceeding with a criminal case. A judge can dismiss charges if there is insufficient probable cause.
PC 991 Motions
PC 991 allows a criminal defense lawyer to request that the court dismiss a misdemeanor charge. This motion is filed at an individual’s arraignment hearing. An arraignment hearing is the first hearing an individual attends after an arrest.
A number of other things happen at an arraignment hearing in California. During this hearing, an individual learns about the charge(s) they are facing. After hearing the charges, the defendant must plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Individuals can only request permission to submit a motion to dismiss a misdemeanor if they plead not guilty. After making this motion, a judge has to consider the evidence associated with the case. The judge can then allow the motion to pass. In this case, an individual’s charges are dismissed. The court can also deny the motion, which allows the criminal trial to proceed.
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Defining Probable Cause
A PC 991 motion aims to get the court to drop the case due to lack of probable cause. When considering filing this motion, it is important to understand how the law defines probable cause. Probable cause is a standard set by the law for establishing the likelihood that a specific suspect committed a particular crime.
In order to be considered probable cause, it must be more likely than not that the suspect committed the crime in question. Probable cause is supposed to be established before a police officer makes an arrest. However, people are often arrested with insufficient evidence to meet this standard.
Lacking enough evidence to constitute probable cause can put a defendant in a position to file a PC 991 motion to have their case dismissed.
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Individuals Allowed to File a PC 991 Motion
Not everyone charged with a crime in California can file a PC 991 motion. This motion is only available to certain individuals charged with misdemeanors. These individuals can file a PC 991 motion if they were in custody before their arraignment hearing and entered a not guilty plea to the charges against them.
Individuals who plead guilty or no contest cannot file a PC 991 motion. These motions are also not used in cases involving felony charges. As you can see, the uses of a PC 991 motion are somewhat limited. However, they do work to get some charges dismissed in California.
Evidence Considered for a PC 991 Motion
PC 991 motions are handled at an individual’s arraignment hearing. Generally, this hearing takes place within 48 hours of an arrest. Therefore, there is often limited evidence available to the court. A judge can end up relying on things like:
- Arrest warrants or search warrants
- Reports filed by police officers
- Sworn complaints and associated documents
However, the court can sometimes request a continuance for “good cause.” This allows the court to put off making a decision for up to three court days. Note that “court days” do not include weekends or holidays.
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Outcomes of a PC 991 Motion in California
A PC 991 motion can lead to the dismissal of misdemeanor charges in California. However, you should know that charges are sometimes refiled after getting dismissed. The prosecution will have up to 15 days to file charges again.
The prosecution can use this period to gather additional evidence. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can file another PC 991 motion if charges are filed again. The judge would then consider all the evidence once more.
Note that the prosecution cannot file charges for a third time if the judge dismisses the charges again. Find out more about the outcomes of a PC 991 motion by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. We’re here to help you understand this aspect of California’s legal code.
Benefits of a Successful PC 991 Motion
Many people are unsure if they should file a PC 991 motion at their arraignment hearing or not. Filing a PC 991 motion is often in a defendant’s best interest. In the best-case scenario, a judge will dismiss an individual’s charges. This would end the criminal case, allowing individuals to avoid a conviction, fines, or jail time.
There are no other drawbacks if a judge rejects a PC 991 motion. In this situation, an individual faces the same criminal charges they were already handling. There are no special penalties associated with a rejected PC 991 motion.
What If You Are Facing a Felony Charge?
PC 991 only applies to misdemeanor cases. If you are attempting to dismiss a charge in a felony case, you will want to file a motion under Penal Code 995. PC 995 is a motion your attorney can make after a preliminary hearing, where the judge has ruled to move the case forward to trial.
This motion is asking for the decision to proceed to trial to be reconsidered, and if the court finds that there were insufficient legal grounds for proceeding with the trial, your motion will be granted and your charges dismissed.
Ask a Lawyer About Filing a Motion to Dismiss a Misdemeanor
Penal Code 991 allows lawyers to file a motion to dismiss a misdemeanor. A PC 991 motion requests that the judge dismiss criminal charges. The Simmrin Law Group can work to get your charges dismissed if you were accused of a misdemeanor. Allow us to help you right now. Just call us or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.