What does dismissed with prejudice mean?

Updated on April 16th, 2024 at 08:26 pm

You may be wondering what it means to have a case dismissed. Voluntary dismissal refers to the decision made by the party who initiated the case, whether it is the plaintiff in a civil case or the prosecutor in a criminal case, to terminate the legal proceedings.image of a judge dismissing a case with prejudice

In simple terms, having a case dismissed means there was either no conviction or no guilt found. Many different things can lead to a case being dismissed. But what does dismissal with prejudice mean?

In the legal area, a case that gets dismissed with prejudice means it has been permanently dismissed. No matter the circumstances, if a case is dismissed with prejudice, it cannot be brought back to court. The case is done. Alternatively, a case dismissed without prejudice means the case can be brought back to court.

Why would a judge dismiss a case with prejudice?

When a case is dismissed with prejudice, it is permanently over. A case is dismissed with prejudice when there is no reason to bring it back to court. An example would be if a judge determines a lawsuit as insignificant or the issue has been resolved.

There are several reasons why a case can be dismissed with prejudice. In some cases, if the court finds the evidence presented does not support the claims, they may dismiss the case. They may also dismiss a case if the defendant is found innocent or has already been convicted and served their sentence.

A dismissal with prejudice could also occur when an additional claim is made that was not part of the original complaint or because the defendant’s constitutional rights have been violated.

The Supreme Court has determined that District Courts in the federal court system have the discretion to dismiss a case with or without prejudice. Because of this ruling, District Courts can dismiss a case with prejudice if they believe the plaintiff acted in bad faith or recklessly or if rehearing the case would put a burden on the court system.

For example, a New York District Court dismissed Soul Circus, Inc. v. Trevanna Entertainment, Inc. based on the plaintiff’s failure to produce a reason for dismissal without prejudice, the actions taken to avoid a prompt resolution, etc. This is a perfect example of an involuntary dismissal with prejudice for multiple reasons.

What is the Difference between Dismissed and Dismissed with Prejudice?

A case being dismissed with prejudice means that the dismissal is the final judgment in the case. A dismissal with prejudice means the charges cannot be refiled. However, a case that gets dismissed without prejudice means the charges can be refiled, or new charges from the same circumstances can be filed in the future.

It is important to note that a case being dismissed with prejudice does not necessarily mean there was actual prejudice in the case. In legal terms, “dismissed with prejudice” simply means that the case cannot be brought back to court.

Additionally, a case can also be dismissed by the person who filed it, not just a judge. For example, if someone filed a lawsuit claiming their employer has not paid them, you can dismiss the case with prejudice if the employer ends up paying you after all. You may also dismiss a case without prejudice if the statute of limitations has not expired.

Is Dismissed with Prejudice the Same as Not Guilty?

A case dismissed with prejudice means you are no longer being charged, and your case is permanently over. This is not the same as being found not guilty. Being found not guilty means that the defendant’s case moved forward through trial, and they were found not guilty.

Once a criminal case is dismissed with prejudice, the principle of double jeopardy is invoked, barring the defendant from being prosecuted for the same charges.

A case being dismissed does not mean that a trial has begun. Case dismissal can happen at various points. However, if a case is not dismissed before a trial, a trial will likely occur, and the defendant will either be found guilty or not guilty, which is a completely different realm.

For someone to be found not guilty, the case would have to go through a trial. There are two types of trials for criminal charges. A bench trial is when there is no jury present; therefore, a judge is the determinator. A jury trial is where a selected group of peers is chosen to observe the case and decide on a verdict.

What does dismissed without prejudice mean?

Although a dismissal means the current case is done, in dismissals without prejudice, the charges can be brought back to court in the future.

The purpose of dismissal without prejudice is to give the prosecutor or plaintiff the opportunity to refile charges, change them, or take future court action. This means that if a defendant is dismissed without prejudice, they may not be completely out of hot water yet.

It is important to note that judges often err on the side of caution when making decisions about dismissal. This is why many cases are dismissed without prejudice, so they can be revisited in the future if needed.

Most people believe that once a case is dismissed, it is dismissed forever. This is false. Yes, the case would be done at that point in time, but you must understand dismissal without prejudice means the same charges (or new ones) could be brought back to court in the future. While you have to be cautious of this, you may still celebrate the case being dismissed.

Is without prejudice good or bad?

A case can be dismissed without prejudice by a judge, prosecutor, or plaintiff. Criminal defense attorneys can also request a dismissal, but that is at the judge’s discretion. There are many reasons for a prosecutor or plaintiff to request a voluntary dismissal and withdraw their case, but the most important thing to know is that the charges can be brought back to court at a later date.

From the defendant’s perspective, having a case dismissed is a good thing. Obviously, having a case dismissed with prejudice is great. However, it is more common to have a case dismissed without prejudice. What is important to remember when a case is dismissed without prejudice is that it may or may not be brought back to court again in the future, but the current case is dismissed.

What is the purpose of without prejudice?

Without prejudice is a common term in the legal field. Ultimately, dismissing a case without prejudice is temporary in the sense that a plaintiff or prosecutor can refile the charges, change the charges, or take the case to another court later.

However, depending on the type of case and the evidence at hand, there is a chance that a case dismissed without prejudice won’t be brought back to court. There are no determining factors in knowing whether a case will be refiled, but it is important to note that just because a case is dismissed without prejudice, it does not mean it will 100% be brought back to court.

Although judges have the discretion to dismiss a case, they often err on the side of caution with every case. It would be more precautious to dismiss a case without prejudice rather than dismiss a case with prejudice and leave no chance for the defendant to be charged again with that crime. Once a case is dismissed without prejudice, it would be up to the prosecutor(s) to recharge the defendant. If they decide not to recharge the defendant, then the defendant would not have a case against themselves.

Contact Bruckheim & Patel

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Washington, D.C., you must contact Bruckheim & Patel. Our criminal defense lawyers are aggressive, experienced litigators ready to fight on your behalf.


About Bruckheim & Patel

As a former Prosecutor, Michael Bruckheim has experience on the other side of the aisle. Prior to founding his law office in 2010, Mr. Bruckheim enjoyed a diverse career in litigation at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG) serving for over 11 years. He began his OAG career as a prosecutor in the Criminal Section where he conducted numerous bench and jury trials in traffic and criminal misdemeanor matters. Mr. Bruckheim was promoted and served as Chief of the Criminal Section at the OAG where he supervised the prosecution of DUI offenses in the District and directed a staff of over 20 attorneys.

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