Understanding Criminal Procedure in Florida and Motions to Dismiss


What is a Motion to Dismiss in Florida?

A Motion to Dismiss is a request for the court to throw out a charge or charges against a defendant. It is a pretrial motion, heard by a judge. There is no jury involved. 

When a defendant files a Motion to Dismiss, they argue there is a problem with the legal basis of the charge and it should not proceed to trial. When a judge decides a Motion to Dismiss, they are not determining the defendant's guilt or innocence. They look at the legal validity of the charge itself. 

Top 5 Reasons to File a Motion to Dismiss in Florida

There is a range of reasons why a defendant may file a Motion to Dismiss. 

1.  Insufficient Evidence

In a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove the charge against the defendant beyond any reasonable doubt. They try to do this by presenting evidence to the jury. If the evidence isn't enough to prove the charge, or the prosecution has failed to prove an element of the offense, the defense may file a Motion to Dismiss due to insufficient evidence. 

2.  Statute of Limitations

Most offenses have a statute of limitations. This is the timeframe in which the prosecution can file charges against a defendant after a crime has been committed. Different offenses have different statutes of limitations. 

If the prosecution charges a defendant outside of the statute of limitations, the defense may file a Motion to Dismiss. 

3.  Violation of the Right to a Speedy Trial

Defendants are entitled to have their trial heard within a reasonable time. If there have been unreasonable delays to their trial, and the defendant is not at fault, they may file a Motion to Dismiss. 

4.  Double Jeopardy

A defendant who has been acquitted of a charge cannot be prosecuted a second time for the same conduct. If this happens, the defense can file a Motion to Dismiss based on double jeopardy. 

5.  Errors in Filing the Complaint

The authorities must follow specific procedures when charging a defendant, including explaining the charge. If this process wasn't followed and it cannot be fixed in some way, then the defense may file a Motion to Dismiss. 

Other situations where a defendant may file a Motion to Dismiss include when:

  • The defendant is arguing self-defense
  • The prosecution and defense agree on the facts and only require the judge to determine whether the conduct was criminal
  • The court does not have jurisdiction to hear the charge

The legal basis of a Motion to Dismiss is unique to each case. So it's worth discussing your specific circumstances with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney at Asbury Law. 

How can a Florida defense attorney use a Motion to Dismiss strategically?

A well-argued Motion to Dismiss can resolve your matter without the need to go to trial. It can lead to successful plea negotiations with the prosecution or even the charges being dismissed entirely. Avoiding a trial saves you time, money, and stress in the long run.

For these reasons, it's worth engaging a defense attorney who is an expert in pretrial motions. They can look at your matter and advise if there are any potential legal bases for a Motion to Dismiss that could ultimately see your charges thrown out. This is why you should contact Asbury Law immediately to find out how we can help you. Call us at 904.203.8776 or fill out our online submission form today to schedule a free Initial Consultation about your case.

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