How to Know if a Felony Has Been Dropped

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Discovering when a felony charge has been dropped requires knowing how the criminal justice system works. Police and detectives are responsible for the initial investigation, arrest and presentment of the case to the prosecution. The prosecutor may decide to refuse the case, similar to dropping a case, or accepting the charge and presenting it to a grand jury. The grand jury may indict or "no bill" the charge. A no bill, again, is like dropping the case. If the grand jury indicts, then the only way a felony can be dropped is if the prosecution makes a motion to dismiss.

Clerk's offices can search to see if charges have been dropped.
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Call the district clerk's office of the county where the offense occurred. Provide the last name of the defendant and ask if there has been a no bill or motion to dismiss in the file.

The district attorney decides if charges should be dropped.
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If the district clerk has no information, call the district attorney offices for the county where the offense occurred and where the victim resides. Provide the last name of the defendant and ask if a charge has been accepted or refused.

If the district attorney has no information, then call the local police department and request to speak with the detective assigned to the case.

Warnings

  • A felony charge may be dropped, and then filed again. This happens often before trial. The prosecution may do this as long as it is within the statute of limitations and as long as jeopardy has not attached. The rules to change an indictment are very strict so a charge may need to be dropped and filed over again to fix simple issues like typos.

Tips

  • Approach the search in reverse order, starting with the clerk and moving backward to the police department to save time. The clerk will manage several courts but a police department only maintains its own records.
  • If you are the defendant and you are on bond, your bondsman will be an easy source to find out if your felony charge has been dropped or not. That is because the bondsman is the person that put money up to take you out of jail, so the bondsman monitors your status through the criminal justice system a lot closer.
  • If you have an attorney, he will likely be one of the first people to know if a felony charge has been dropped.

References

Resources

About the Author

Abdul Farukhi has been writing and reporting since 2001. His work has been featured in "The Daily Texan" newspaper and various online media outlets. Farukhi graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in government and economics and is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas.

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