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Prosecutor Can Dismiss a Case, Says Court of Appeals

Posted Thursday, January 4, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can a judge order a criminal case to proceed forward even when the prosecutor wants to dismiss it for insufficient evidence?

That was the situation in Adams County Juvenile Court when the prosecutor decided there was a lack of evidence available to proceed with prosecuting a juvenile for possession of alcohol and marijuana. After a hearing, the prosecutor moved to dismiss the case, citing insufficient evidence. However, the judge overruled the prosecutor and ordered the case forward.

The Division III Court of Appeals found the Court’s discretion to deny a prosecutor’s dismissal motion exists as a check on abuse of prosecutorial discretion, not to usurp or interfere with the good faith exercise of prosecutorial discretion. And in this case, the prosecutor decision was a good faith exercise of their charging authority. The trial judge’s decision was overruled and the case was dismissed.

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