Nolle Prosequi Georgia: What Does Nolle Prossed GA Mean?
Article answering: What does nolle prosequi mean in GEORGIA? Updated October 2020.
Although in states like Virginia, a plaintiff in a civil suit can file a nolo prosequi, this article has nothing to do with civil cases and is 100% about criminal prosecutions in the United States. Plus, Georgia law is its primary focus, based upon our Atlanta attorneys defending thousands of criminal prosecutions.
By the end of this article, all 10 of these questions should be clearly answered. The elusive nolle prossed definition is provided here. This generally occurs where the available evidence has demonstrated either innocence or "obstacles" to a successful prosecution of the charge.
The idea for this page is to clarify the misconceptions and confusions over this obscure and maligned Latin legal term.
- Where can I find the nolle prosequi definition? These three online dictionaries or information sites define nolle prosequi: Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, or The Free Dictionary. In the most simplistic way, think of the short nolle definition phrase as being "no longer prosecuting" the case against the defendant on THAT charge, at least as how it was originally accused.
The recent case of Lund v. City of Rockford, Illinois, 956 F.3d 938 (7th Cir., 2020), states it this way: "Under Illinois law a nolle prosequi (meaning 'refuse to pursue') does not dispose of a case on its merits, but merely 'reverts the matter to the same condition which existed before the commencement of the prosecution.'
- Is Nolle Prosequi Conviction? No, you are not convicted by this process being used.
- What is the significance of the term "nolle prosequi?" This could be the end of the current prosecution, as the case was previously accused. If an alternative disposition (e.g., a lesser charge) is entered, then the original case charges should be over completely.
- Can a Nolle Prosequi case be reopened? Yes, so long as no statute of limitations barrier exists to block that future attempt.
- Is nolle prosequi a good thing? Usually, but not always. Sometimes the legal challenges made by the defense called "motions to quash" or demurrers can cause the prosecutor to nol pros the original accusation or indictment and recast the criminal charges.
- What is the difference between nolle prosequi vs dismissed? Not much difference exists, unless the dismissal is with prejudice, which almost never happens.
- Can a prosecutor enter a nolle prosequi DUI in Georgia? Yes, and this has happened when the arresting officer dies, moves away or becomes incapacitated in terms of being able to testify.
- Is nolle prosequi the same as an acquittal? No, an acquittal only occurs when "jeopardy" attaches, and a judge or jury acquits you.
- Can nolle prosequi be expunged? In Georgia, yes. Each state, however, creates its only legislation on records restrictions and expunction.
- Is this type of dismissal only used when the prosecutor has found new proof of the client's innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution has been uncovered? This is not always the cause but is the usual cause. Comprehensive investigation of every angle of the criminal case by the best defense lawyers near me is the path to many victories.
Every week our attorneys in Atlanta get phone calls asking questions like, “Can you get a DUI expunged in Georgia?” or “Can I get my record sealed so I can get a job?” or “What is my chance for expungement in Georgia felony cases?”
Several important disposition nolle prosequi criminal appeals in the Peach State in 2019 and 2020 helped our current clients facing crimes have one or more offenses for which they were originally charged nol prossed. In Georgia, it is not common for a defendant to file a motion for nolle prosequi. Also, it uncommon that any Georgia prosecutor to annotate it as "nolle prosequi without prejudice."
Is a nolle prosequi considered a conviction? Because some defendants do not fully understand how criminal cases are handled, a brief tutorial on the “players” in the criminal justice system will help explain this odd Latin phrase describing a criminal procedure in the year 2020. This will assist in helping the reader understand nolled prossed vs dismissed.
This background will help most see how the prosecution defines a weak case and why a case can be nolle prossed even after an indictment has been returned as a true bill. The government lawyer for pursuing criminal charges made by law enforcement officers or other investigators is called the prosecutor.
Depending on which state, police authority, or jurisdiction you are in, the prosecutor definition can be the district attorney, the solicitor (or solicitor-general), the state attorney, or a similar title. Because the prosecutor is the public prosecutor for the State, county, parish, borough or judicial circuit where the crime is being investigated, he or she is answerable to the people who put him or her into office (e.g., voters, a city council or county commission). This is Player 1.
Defending the accused is either a private criminal defense attorney, or a public defender (appointed to assist in the defense at State cost or at the municipality or county’s cost). This is Player 2.
The judge (who is Player 3) is like the referee in a sporting match, where he or she has no role in playing, but is only overseeing the fairness of the contest, and making rulings on fouls committed by the opposing criminal case lawyers, as it pertains to what the jury gets to hear and what they don’t.
Plus, before the case is submitted for their determination of guilt or innocence, the trial judge gives the jurors their jury instructions that frame the rules of law applicable to this type of case, and then directs them that they are to decide the case. Their decision, on each separate charge, must be unanimous, and they all must agree on each separate “count” as guilty, not guilty, or we cannot unanimously agree.How Does a Nol Pros Occur?
Criminal Defense Attorney near me in Atlanta Explains and Defines the Nolle Prossed Meaning in GA.
Insofar as the prosecution meaning, he or she is the state or federal attorney for law enforcement who investigates, organizes, and reviews all evidence collected from witnesses, video footage, forensic tests or other sources by agents or officers. With this data in front of him or her, the prosecutor in a criminal case has options to decide if the alleged criminal activity can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, it is that assigned government attorney prosecuting the case who can enter a nolle prosequi, mark it as a dead docket case, or move toward trial. Plus, this same prosecuting state lawyer decides whether to accuse the case as a misdemeanor or felony and whether the cases requires grand jury indictment.
Similarly, if due to a fatal flaw in the case (e.g., an airtight alibi for the accused, or DNA evidence does not match), the prosecuting attorney can opt to not go forward since the charges cannot be proved due to some shortcoming in the evidence. In some cases, the lack of a key witness can keep them from having the necessary proof.
The descriptive courtroom step or procedure to signify that he or she will no longer prosecute is an oral or written motion to dismiss charges, and this is signified by signing off, and offering to the judge that the nolle prosequi filed that day terminates the prosecution.
What does “nolle” mean? In English, to have a criminal case nol prossed essentially means that a prosecutor has elected to discontinue, drop, or no longer pursue a pending criminal charge, as currently filed and “of record” against you at that time. The Latin word “nolle” is roughly translated as “will no longer” and prosequi is Latin for “prosecute.”What Does Nolle Prossed Mean?
So, this Latin phrase is lawyer talk for “case dismissed.” No meaningful difference exists between the nolle prosequi meaning and “dismissed” in our courts’ criminal statutes. In many traffic courts or lower level tribunals, the prosecutor will write “N.P.” or “NP” as the abbreviated for dropping that specific count or traffic citation.
Some cases in a court’s criminal docket may reach a more advanced stage of moving forward with criminal charges, called a formal accusation or indictment. Yet, in all court systems, other cases get lost, neglected, or misplaced in the clerk’s office and may not be found until the criminal case has passed the statute of limitations.How a Nolle Prosequi Georgia May Occur Before Trial
As opposed to the sequence of events stated above for a typical criminal trial, in some cases, the prosecutor encounters problems with the evidence in his or her case. In some instances, a key or sole witness disappears or becomes unavailable to testify, leading to a prosecutor filing a nolle prosequi in Georgia.
In other cases, the State’s post-arrest investigation (after an arrest was made on the day of the incident) reveals that the facts of the case point to the victim being the instigator (or not telling the truth) and the DA (as the prosecuting officer) decides to not continue the prosecution, based upon new information. Perhaps the property alleged to have been stolen from the victim turns out to have been purchased through Amazon by the accused, in his name and using his credit card.
Or, in a criminal battery case, the version of facts stated by the person who called police lacks support from three independent eyewitnesses who saw the alleged victim throw a cup of hot coffee in the face of the person who was arrested. In such cases, the prosecuting attorney can indicate that he or she is not going to continue the accusation or indictment through an entry of a GA nolle prosequi.
Under Georgia laws, all misdemeanors have a 2-year time limit to prosecute, and most non-capital felonies have a 4-year SOL (statute of limitations). The best criminal lawyers near me “calendar” that two-year or four-year SOL, as soon as the Atlanta attorney is hired. He or she will follow up to make certain the proper motion for discharge and acquittal are filed when needed. Incidentally, the use of dismissals is applicable across the USA, in any criminal courts that prosecute misdemeanor vs felony cases, federal, state, commonwealth or municipal courts.How Top Criminal Lawyers Near Me Convince a Prosecutor to Nol Pros Criminal Charges
The prosecutor can have a multitude of reasons for offering to nolle prosequi your case. In about 5% of cases, pure luck helps this to happen. In these cases, a key police officer witness may have lost POST certification, been indicted, been deployed overseas, resigned under pressure from his or her arresting agency, died, became disabled or moved outside the state. Our law firm makes it a routine practice to obtain the report of the arresting officer’s Georgia P.O.S.T. (peace officer’s standards and training) record.
However, the skill level and hard work of your criminal defense lawyer in investigating your criminal case, filing many targeted, pretrial motions, and conducting the motion hearing obtains the good result. Your criminal law attorney may bring expert witnesses, or certain fact witnesses, or may have you testify. Most importantly, the criminal attorney will cross examine the law enforcement officers who gathered evidence against you.
The most common reason for the government not proceeding on charges comes after testimony at pretrial motions reveals that a critical piece of evidence must be excluded (by the trial judge) from the State’s case. Such court rulings show a weakness in the case and can leave insufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Example Demonstrating Why Receiving a Nol Pros Does Not Equate to Acquittal: No Double Jeopardy Defense
Different types of cases have a greater likelihood of being “revived” after a nolle prosequi is entered. Domestic violence GA cases are the prime example. In State Court, over half of these cases receive a nolle pros because the victim does not show up. From the date of the “incident” for two years, that case may be revived, if it is a misdemeanor, and 4 years if accused as a felony.
A new DV incident between these parties (and an additional, new crime) or other new evidence may emerge in the case (e.g., the DA or solicitor-general learning that the defendant intercepted and destroyed the court notice sent to the victim, causing her to miss court). The accused person cannot invoke a defense of double jeopardy since the prosecution was withdrawn, by virtue of the nolle prossed case.Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Get More Criminal Cases Nol Prossed
While our law partners handle 90% of our cases in the 19 metro Atlanta counties, our criminal lawyers in Atlanta gladly travel to every corner of the state of Georgia for clients who need our expertise and legal services. In thousands of our prior cases, obtaining a nolle prosequi for some charges has been commonplace, but for all pending criminal offense charges, not common.
Senior partner William Head was able to successfully obtain a nolle prosequi in GA in a 2019 felony vehicular homicide based on DUI-drugs in a southwest Georgia county, leaving the client with no record of that offense. Our Atlanta attorneys offer a FREE lawyer consultation, so what are you waiting for?
Request a personal meeting (face-to-face, using social distancing) or via video conferencing cell phone meeting. Please call today at (404) 567-5515. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, and our law office partners will review your case with you for FREE. Contact us and let us review your case facts.
Additional Links to recent appellate decisions in other states:
Nolle Prosequi Virginia case interpreting Virginia laws
A 2020 nolle prosequi Florida case
Missouri nolle prosequi as part of a case plea to another charge:
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