Dismissal vs. expungement: What’s the difference?

Dismissal vs. expungement: What’s the difference?

A criminal record affects your employment and housing opportunities, can interfere with child custody issues, securing loans, and hurt your reputation–among other consequences. However, a criminal record does not always have to last forever, and an experienced Lake Charles criminal defense attorney can walk you through dismissal vs. expungement procedures and work toward clearing your record.

dismissal vs expungement

What does it mean to have a case dismissed?

“Case dismissed” means the case is over, and the offender has not been convicted. Once dismissed, all legal action regarding the charges ends–at least temporarily. Dismissals can happen at any point in the legal process—before a trial starts, during the trial, or after a criminal trial ends if the defendant takes the case to the appeals court and wins the appeal.

Dismissals rendered “with prejudice in a civil proceeding” constitute a final judgment. In contrast, dismissals rendered “without prejudice” mean the defendant may be brought into criminal court on those charges again, according to Louisiana Article 1673.

In a criminal indictment or when a criminal bill is filed, the district attorney has the power, in his discretion, to dismiss an indictment or a count in an indictment, and to exercise that power, he doesn’t need to obtain the consent of the court, under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure 691.  The effect of a dismissal by the district attorney varies, according to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure 693.

Who has the power to dismiss a case?

The prosecutor files charges and can also use their power to dismiss them. The judge also has dismissal power and can use it if they determine:

  • There is no legal basis for a charge or
  • The defendant’s rights were violated, or
  • The state hasn’t proved its case.

A judge may dismiss a case based on their motion or in response to a motion issued by the defendant. It is more typical, however, for prosecutors to dismiss cases than judges. Requesting dismissal of your charges is likely one of the first actions your attorney will take when defending you.

How can an attorney help get charges dismissed?

No attorney can guarantee dismissals. However, a skilled Lake Charles criminal defense attorney from The Johnson Firm will certainly fight for that outcome. Partner with us immediately after an arrest so we can investigate the circumstances and gather evidence to prove any violations committed by law enforcement. Possible arguments may include:

  • The arrest followed an illegal stop and search.
  • There was no probable cause to arrest.
  • The criminal complaint included mistakes.
  • The defendant’s civil rights were compromised.

What does it mean to expunge vs. dismiss a case?

An expungement erases a criminal record, restoring the defendant to pre-conviction status. In the dismissed vs. expunged discussion, dismissal means the defendant no longer faces legal action, at least temporarily, for the charges. Expungement means the defendant was convicted of the charges, but that criminal record is deleted from official sources. Employers, landlords, and banks do not have access to expunged records.

However, the expunged record is not destroyed. The State of Louisiana maintains a confidential file of expunged records only accessible to judges, members of law enforcement,  Federal agencies, and certain state licensing agencies.

How can an attorney help with an expungement?

Louisiana’s expungement process is intricate, and an experienced Lake Charles criminal defense attorney can provide much-needed guidance and representation to work toward a favorable outcome.

You can file for expungement if you were arrested but never charged or had charges formally dismissed. You are also eligible if you were convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors or felonies. Individuals can only apply for expungement after completing their sentence, probation, or parole, plus a prescribed number of years afterward. It usually takes more time to secure an expungement vs. dismissal, which is often completed faster.

We’re here to help you move on

The Johnson Firm is committed to helping defendants move on with their lives. Whether through motions to dismiss or applications for expungement, we’re here to fight for your clean criminal record. Connect with a Lake Charles criminal defense attorney from our team today by calling (337) 433-1414 or sending us a message.

Related articles for further reading

Recent Criminal Defense News

Schedule a Consultation

"*" indicates required fields

Full name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Every person deserves and experienced and compassionate lawyer to represent them in their personal injury claim. Choose a lawyer who isn’t afraid to take those to trial who try to deny or minimize your claim.

Our attorneys will thoroughly examine every detail of your case and fight to make sure your injuries are justly compensated. We have a passion for the truth and will challenge anyone who attempts to obscure it.