Nolle Prosequi: What Does Nolle Prossed Mean in a Criminal Case?

Nolle Prosequi is a Latin term used in the criminal justice system which means ‘no more prosecution’. One of the desirable outcomes for a criminal is to hear the words nolle prossed when the Federal or State Government decide not to proceed with the criminal charges against the defendant. How nolle prosequi works and how it affects a criminal case, keep reading to know the explanation behind this not so familiar term.

What does nolle prossed mean?

Nolle prosequi, nol prossed, and nolle prossed, all are Latin-derived legal terms that show unwillingness to prosecute a specific criminal case. They are essentially used when the Solicitor’s Office and the District Attorney of State or Federal criminal court decide to heaven-sent a defendant facing criminal charges or incarcerations.

It is important to understand here, that it is a voluntary dismissal of a case by the prosecution but is not a release after a realization of innocence or guilt. The case which has been dismissed cannot be re-prosecuted. Besides, when a case against the defendant is nolle prossed, this means that the charges are dropped completely.

Why does a prosecutor nolle pross criminal charges?

In the legal battle, it is important to prove the guilt against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition to that, there should be valid evidence against the defendant to hold them liable for any charge.

A lot of times, it happens against a family member, when other members fail to testify the claims. The charges get nolle prossed when there’s a lack of evidence or a weak and insufficient evidence against a defendant. This would be one of the reasons when the prosecution wants to dismiss the case.

Not only this, a prosecutor can dismiss the case for a variety of reasons. They may include (but are not limited to):

  • After a reevaluation of an evidence
  • Failure of cooperation from the witness(es)
  • For giving another chance to the defendant (mainly after a misdemeanor or if the defendant is a first-time offender)
  • The emergence of evidence in favor

For instance, Ben was arrested for a manslaughter accusation with his firearm. Officers on duty took statements from two witnesses who saw Ben shooting at someone in the backyard with his gun. After the trial, Ben was charged with criminal offenses. Weeks later, the Police found the weapon outside the garbage dumpster near the shooting place. Forensic reports showed that there were fingerprints other than Ben on the weapon. Based on the forensic reports, the prosecutor nolle prossed the charges.

Are nolle prosequi and acquittal equal?

If the case is nolle prossed by the prosecutor, the defendant must not think that he is judged innocent and released. It was just a voluntary dismissal based on some reasons that became the reasons of nolle prossed. The prosecution can also decide to re-review the case upon any request from the plaintiffs. If the prosecutor’s mind changes, they may not only resume the previous charges but also can impose some others if new stronger evidence falls sufficient.

Another thing that a defendant should keep in mind is that there are no rules of double jeopardy that come into enactment when there is a nolle prossed case. This is because, in double jeopardy, there should be a conviction. While in the nolle prossed, the case is dismissed.

Double jeopardy is the guaranteed protection under the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution that prevents a defendant from being convicted for one offense twice.

How does a nolle prosequi case qualify for expungement?

Usually, the cases that end up without conviction, can be qualified for record restrictions and expungements. These cases include nolle prossed cases. On the other hand, the record restrictions do not apply to them as it was dismissed due to the non-prosecution decision not for the reason that the defendant pleaded guilty or other charges were being prosecuted against the defendant in another jurisdiction. Therefore, the charges will remain in the record as the defendant will have some kind of immunity.

How long does it take to expunge the records from your history?

On average, the process of expungement takes eight to twelve months from your record. However, if you are having charges that ended with nolle prossed and you are seeking employment or rental places, then letters of reference can be requested from the court that the charges were dismissed. These letters of reference can help you acquire the desired place for your living and to get employment if the background checks were performed.

How much does an expungement of records cost?

It all boils down to the county and jurisdiction where the case was filed initially. In addition to that, the cost of expungement also depends on the severity of the case either a felony or misdemeanor.

Where some may think that expungement is available for every non-convicted, but that’s not the case. It is never guaranteed and does not automatically happen. A defendant seeking expungement for his records may request a petition and fill out an application form and may be required to submit the proper paperwork to the criminal court to review. Many jurisdictions have assigned a legal fee for filing an expungement.

Usually, the cost of expungement ranges between $750.000 and $1,000 for expunging misdemeanor and $1,250 and $1,500 for felony charges.

Can an expungement be denied?

It is on the criminal court’s discretion that he may look into some other factors of giving expungements that means qualifying under the law does enough to receive one. The court may find:

  • Your behavior and daily conducts that your charges release will not result in a threat or menace to the society
  • The expungement is according to the laws of public welfare
  • The interest of the criminal justice system is requested for guaranteeing expungement.

Depending on these findings, your expungement can be given or denied. However, your defense attorney can help you in framing the significant reasoning for seeking expungement. Most probably, your defense lawyer will represent your case in front of the court and fight to save your rights. With this, it is most likely that expungement would be granted after a nolle prossed case.

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