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How often are gun charges dropped?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Both Missouri state statutes and federal laws have rules for firearm owners. Small mistakes, like letting a permit lapse, could potentially lead to someone’s arrest and prosecution. The laws change over time, meaning that someone who is once compliant might unintentionally find themselves in violation of the law.

Firearm charges can lead to major criminal consequences, not the least of which is a criminal record that could affect someone’s eligibility for career opportunities, financial aid and housing. Someone arrested for a firearm offense may worry about what those charges might mean for the future.

Some people make the mistake of pleading guilty, which leaves them at the mercy of the courts. Others may try to plan a defense strategy. Sometimes, defense attorneys seek the dismissal of pending charges. How often do Missouri prosecutors dismiss pending firearm charges?

Mistakes and civil rights violations could lead to case dismissal

Missouri does not regularly publish data about how often prosecutors dismiss different charges. However, a small minority of criminal cases end in dismissal. Often, dismissed charges are the result of one of two scenarios.

Either there was a misinterpretation of state law or some kind of misconduct on the part of state workers, like police officers or prosecutors. For example, if a police officer conducted an illegal search of someone’s vehicle or living space, an attorney might be able to exclude the evidence gathered during those searches from criminal proceedings. Prosecutors might then dismiss pending charges because they have no other evidence.

Other times, confusion about newer firearm statutes might lead to police officers arresting someone when there isn’t actually a justification to do so. Prosecutors might eventually dismiss the charges when they realize they are unlikely to prevail should they take the matter to trial. The courts can even dismiss charges if the prosecutor fails to move forward with a case in a timely fashion.

How people get charges against them dropped

Pursuing case dismissal is not always the most viable defense strategy, but it can work for people in certain scenarios. Often, the first step toward determining if dismissal is an option is a thorough review of the state’s case.

From the exact charges someone faces and the circumstances at the time of their arrest to the evidence that the prosecutor intends to present in court, the details of the case are what determine whether seeking a dismissal of the charges is a realistic strategy or not. Those accused of firearm offenses and other potentially serious Missouri criminal infractions typically require support when responding to those charges.

Understanding why the state may dismiss pending firearms charges can help people determine if a dismissal is likely in their case. Defendants familiar with the law may feel more empowered as they prepare to go to criminal court.