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Florida Drug Defense Attorney > Blog > Drug Crime Defense > Is It Possible for the State to Decline to Prosecute Your Drug Case?

Is It Possible for the State to Decline to Prosecute Your Drug Case?


Sometimes criminal cases fizzle instead of ending with a definitive resolution.  The jury might be deadlocked and fail to reach a verdict, meaning that your future is still as uncertain as it was when you first entered a plea of not guilty.  The judge can even declare a mistrial in the middle of the trial, while a lawyer is in mid sentence, phrasing a question for a witness on the witness stand.  In other cases, the prosecution can unilaterally decide to stop pursuing the case, effectively making the allegations against the defendant vanish into thin air.  When the prosecution terminates the criminal proceedings before the defendant formally receives charges, it is called a no information, because the State Attorney reviews the arrest report and determines that it has no basis to file an information, which is a charging document that formally states the accusations against the defendant.  If the defendant has already been charged and entered a plea, then the prosecution’s declaration that it is terminating the case is called “nolle prosequi,” which is a Latin phrase that means, “unwilling to pursue.”  To find out more about exercising your rights in the event of nolle prosequi, contact a Florida drug offenses attorney.

Why Does Nolle Prosequi Happen in Drug Cases?

Florida law gives prosecutors the right to terminate a criminal case unilaterally; the judge has no authority to move forward with the case after the prosecution has declared that it no longer wants to engage.  Technically, the prosecution can terminate the case for any reason, but there are some common themes among cases that end this way.  In the case of a no information filed early on in the proceedings, it is usually because the prosecution is declining to prosecute minor crimes so it can free up resources to pursue more serious cases.  Four Adderall pills in a Pez dispenser in the center console of your car is the least of the State Attorney’s worries when five pounds of fentanyl just arrived at Miami International Airport.

Nolle prosequi of felony cases where the state has already devoted considerable resources to an investigation usually happens when the prosecution loses access to a key piece of evidence.  The court might declare the drugs that police found in your house inadmissible because of an issue with the search warrant, or a witness might recant the testimony that the prosecution was planning to use against you.

Nolle Prosequi Is Almost, but Not Quite, the Perfect Ending to Your Case

Hearing the words “nolle prosequi” in relation to your case feels as good as hearing the words “not guilty.”  When the prosecution terminates your case, you are within your rights to celebrate.  It doesn’t mean that your case is over, though.  Nolle prosequi does not convey the “no double jeopardy” protection; that only happens if your case goes to trial.  If your case ends in nolle prosequi, the state can charge you again for the same crime, but in practice, this rarely happens.

Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Drug Cases

A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer will protect you if the state charges you again after declaring nolle prosequi.  Contact FL Drug Defense Group in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.

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