Rejection of Charges

Rejection of Charges

Hi, I'm Charlie Roadman, Austin Criminal Defense Attorney and today, we're going to talk about rejection of charges in a criminal case.

Well, a rejection means the prosecutor has decided not to prosecute the person for the alleged offense. The prosecutor can change their mind at some later point up until the statute of limitations has run, but that rarely happens. If they reject the charges, that generally means they're done with the case. However, it's important to know that the arrest information still shows up in the system, and by system, I mean the various governmental agencies, like the clerk's office and stuff like that, will still hold the information of the arrest, but it'll say the charge was rejected.

Now, why would the prosecutors reject the charge? And one reason is that they don't believe the evidence is sufficient. So they've reviewed the case that the police brought to them, and they said, "You know what? This isn't enough evidence to get to probable cause on this type of case," so they reject it.

Now, another scenario is that they could decide that they don't want to utilize their prosecutorial resources on that type of case. So for example, they say, "You know what? We don't want to prosecute low level marijuana cases or shoplifting," or something like that. They could say, "You know what? We're just not going to use our resources that way."

So a sample rejection of charges document would look like this right here and what I've got circled is basically the main thing the document states, which is, "The County Attorney's office has reviewed the evidence in the case listed below and determined that no misdemeanor charges will be filed at this time." Now, you'll notice it doesn't say why, it just says, "We're not proceeding on the case." So this is similar to a dismissal, okay. A dismissal is usually after a case has been filed, the prosecutor's accepted it and then the defendant does something or some other reason and they dismiss it, so this is before that. This is the prosecutors just saying, "We're not even going to file the case."

Now this is actually happening more often in Travis County and it's basically because the County Attorney and the District Attorney, the two people that are in charge of prosecuting misdemeanors and felonies, have decided that they're going to adjust their priorities. They're both more progressive than normal and that they're not going to prosecute a lot of low level drug cases is the most common thing that they're not prosecuting, so they will actually have prosecutors in the jail in the middle of the night reviewing cases and throwing them out, rejecting them if it's just a low level drug case. There's some other types that they're not proceeding on, but that's the most common.

All right. I hope this helps you understand what rejection of charges means.