When your court case is dismissed with prejudice, that means that your charges are dropped, and the case is officially terminated. You cannot be tried for this same crime again as that would constitute double jeopardy, violating the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.
In California, a dismissal with prejudice can be brought forth by either party (the defense or prosecution), and it can be brought up in either civil or criminal cases. A dismissal WITHOUT prejudice is the opposite of this. Even though the claim has been denied and/or a case has been terminated, there is still an opportunity for the claim and the case to be brought back up without the worry of violating the double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment.
There are three reasons why this would happen:
- A lack of jurisdiction (crime took place outside where the court has permission to rule)
- Improper service of process (when the court did not properly notify you of the proceedings)
- Improper venue (when it would be better for another court to handle your case)
It is imperative to understand that If your case was discontinued due to any of these three reasons, then there is still a chance that you could be tried for the same crime in the future. Because of this, it remains in your best interest to still be prepared.
What Even Is Prejudice?
Most people understand the word “prejudice” as a preconceived opinion about someone or something that is not based on reason or sound logic. In the legal sense of the word, “prejudice” has nothing to do with preconceived notions.
Prejudice comes from the Latin phrase “Res Judicata,” meaning “a matter judged.” So, in the courtroom, prejudice means that something is final. Therefore, if your case is dismissed with prejudice, this is the final decision, and you cannot be tried again for the same crime. If you were to be tried again for the same crime, that would be illegal and a violation of the fifth amendment.
For a free legal consultation, call (310) 896-2723
What Is Voluntary vs. Involuntary Dismissal?
There are two types of dismissals pertaining to prejudice and two types based on voluntary status. The prosecution can only bring voluntary dismissal since they filed the case. This usually occurs when they believe there is inadequate cause for continuing with litigation. The judge will then decide whether or not the dismissal will be with or without prejudice.
Involuntary dismissal is when there is something intrinsically wrong with the prosecution’s case, whether procedural or substantive. Once again, it is up to the judge to decide whether the dismissal will be with or without prejudice. This type of dismissal can also be brought if the prosecution team continually asks for delays and voluntary dismissal yet never actually addresses the core issue of their complaints.
What Happens with the Statute of Limitations for Dismissals?
Many crimes in the state of California have a statute of limitations attached to them. A statute of limitation is a period of time when you are allowed to file a claim. If you miss the date for the statute of limitations, you no longer have grounds to file a case.
If your case is dismissed without prejudice, then you will have to live in fear of potentially having the charges brought back up, but the statute of limitations changes this. A statute of limitation never changes, so if your case is dismissed, the prosecution must refile before the deadline. If the prosecution team misses their opportunity to refile before the statute of limitations is up, then you will be free from all legal troubles.
Can the Defendant File for Dismissal?
We know that the plaintiff can file a motion for voluntary dismissal when there is insufficient cause for moving forward, but is there a way for the defendant to file for dismissal? Yes, if you are the defendant and want to have your case dismissed, your defense attorney can file an involuntary dismissal to have the charges dropped and the case terminated. Once more, it is up to the judge and only the judge to determine whether the dismissal will be with or without prejudice.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
How Long Can Your Case Be Dismissed without Prejudice?
This depends entirely upon the charges you are facing and the facts of the crime that you are accused of. This is because every crime in the state of California has a different set of statutes of limitations. If your case was dismissed within two years of the statute of limitations and the statute goes for only two years, then you will be able to walk away without having to stress over a retrial since the deadline for the statute has passed.
What Is an Example of a Case that is Dismissed without Prejudice?
Let’s say that you are being sued for a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident that you caused, and it is filed in a small claims court. The plaintiff, the victim of the car crash, is seeking financial compensation of $20,000, yet the small claims court only hears cases for compensation of $5000 or below. In this scenario, the prosecution can file a motion for voluntary dismissal. The judge can grant it without prejudice so the plaintiff can take the case to a different court to seek $20,000 in compensation.
What Is an Example of a Case that is Dismissed with Prejudice?
Let’s take this same situation but change it up a bit. You are being sued for a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff is seeking $20,000 in financial compensation, yet they cannot provide sufficient evidence that you caused the car accident and thus, their injuries.
Not only does the prosecution team provide inadequate evidence, but they also keep trying to delay the process. In this scenario, you and your defense lawyers can file a motion for involuntary dismissal, and the judge can grant it with prejudice so that way you no longer have to worry about being tried for these same charges.