How Long Can A Case Be Dismissed With Prejudice?

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When a judge dismissed a case, an important question that one should ask is whether the case was dismissed with or without prejudice? The reason is that how long a case is dismissed depends on the nature of the dismissal. Moreover, a dismissal does not always end a prosecution for good. It mostly depends on the nature of the charge (such as a DUI case, debt case, or child support case) and the nature of the dismissal as well.

For some simple offense such as driving under the influence (DUI) first offense or possession of controlled substances, first offense, and other related charges, once a judge dismisses the charges, it’s done. The defendant will become totally free of that particular offense and can never be re-prosecuted for that particular charge again. However, the opposite is the case for those that committed aggravated misdemeanors such as possession of controlled substance, second offense or driving under influence second offense. In such cases, the nature of the case dismissal will hugely depend on whether or not the charge can be re-filed by the prosecutor even after it has been dismissed.

Dismissed With or Without Prejudice: What Does It Mean?

Dismissing a case with or without prejudice is a legal term use to describe how a case is dismissed by a judge. For those hearing the term for the first term, it will sound like the case that was “dismissed with prejudice” was done so because of a judge’s racism or something of that nature – This is not true.

A case that is dismissed with prejudice means that the case has been permanently dismissed, it’s over and done with and can’t be brought back to court. On the other hand, a case dismissed without prejudice means the opposite. The case has not been dismissed forever when it is dismissed without prejudice and the person whose case it is can try again.

Dismissal of a case without prejudice must be constitutional and not violate the rights of the accused. Acceptable grounds for dismissal without prejudice may be that the government is still gathering evidence and it is not yet fully ready to proceed with the criminal case. Unavailability of a witness is another solid ground for dismissing a case without prejudice. Dismissal without prejudice is by far the most common form of dismissal.

How Long to Re-file?

Just because a judge declared a case dismissed “without prejudice” does not mean that the case can be re-filed. The prosecutor and the judge need to follow a certain procedure before they can be able to re-file a charge even when the dismissal order says that the charge is dismissed “without prejudice”.

Re-filing a case that was dismissed without prejudice needs serious work; the prosecutor must correct his/her mistakes before coming back to court. He should avoid anything that will warrant the judge dismissing the case for the second without prejudice because once a judge dismisses a case for the second time without prejudice, the case can never be brought to court again. The prosecutor can re-file right away if he believes that he has corrected his mistakes, he can as well re-file before the statute of limitation on that case runs out.

For prosecutors looking to re-file for misdemeanors such as DUI case, debt case, or child support, you need to act quick as the statute of limitations on such case is one year from the date the State becomes aware of the situation leading to the charges. Most felony cases have a statute of limitation of 7 years. A case can be re-filed within the time the case was brought up and the date it reaches its statute of limitation. The time, however, can be extended by 6 months, although this depends on how much time remains under the statute of limitations.

You should check with your State Legislature website to find out the appropriate Statute of Limitation for each case. In Arizona, according to  A.R.S. 13-107 website, the following are statute of limitation for various offenses, meaning you can re-file within these periods:

  • Seven years for class 2 through a class 6 felony
  • One year for a misdemeanor
  • Six months for a petty offense

DUI Dismissed Without Prejudice

For most people facing charges such as DUI, there is nothing more pleasing than have the case dismissed. You will feel like a winner whose rights have been protected by the law and you can now go on living like every other legal member of the society. If the judge dismissed the case without prejudice, you should be aware that the case can be reopened any time.

DUI case dismissed without prejudice can be brought back again. However, the percentage of dismissed DUI case being reopened is very small (about 1%). If there is new evidence against the accused or the district attorney feels that they can convict the defendant in a re-trial, they will have just 12 months to do so. The defendant will need to get a new lawyer for an entirely new DUI case. It is therefore very important that when looking for a lawyer to defend you whether it’s a DUI case, a debt dismissal, a divorce or a child support case to have an attorney that communicates his interpretation or predictions of the outcome and all possibilities so that you will get a clear picture of how severe your case really is.


Sometimes we are so eager to avoid jail time or get over a case such as DUI or child support case that we go home rejoicing when the judge pronounced the case dismissed, only to be invited back to court after some months again. You must, therefore, know under what ground the judge dismissed your case; is it with or without prejudice? If you are the prosecutor, know the appropriate time period you need to re-file before the case statute of limitations completely elapsed. It’s important that you hire a good lawyer who can easily interpret these terms and it’s implication in your state.

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3 Responses

  1. Gwendolyn. Young

    Wanted to know. If. It is possible to have a misdemeanor dismissed or anything after 30 years…

  2. Rich Vecchio

    OK so does this concept of dismissed with prejudice extend to the owing of debt as well? If am understanding right then basically if a specific debt is dismissed WITH prejudice it would mean the judge has ruled the debt is no longer owed, and the collector can never attempt to collect against that debt ever again? Would this be a good way to potentially be debt free if it has been found any of the collectors may be involved in dodgy collection practises perhaps?

  3. Scott

    I was charged with domestic violence. I was a victim in the case more so then the victim. She calls police all the time to look like the innocent one. Case was dismissed. Now remember opened. Victim does not want charges to still be put on due to misunderstanding. The prosecutor has made a personal grudge on me though due to my cockiness on assuming the case should be dropped. What should I do. I am gonna give a written statement from victim telling court was a big misunderstanding due to her mother being in hospital about to die. Victim was very emotional. Not gonna tell judge victim beat physically mentally and emotionally on constant basis call me dumb in many different instance. Please tell me how to proceed. I have become a basket case very depressed get angry at men real easy. I don’t hurt woman. I have talked with sarcasm to victim a lot is why she got so angry on this day. Now I have 4 dv charges on my hands. So scared. I just wanna make people smile and be happy.

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