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People some times believe that because their case was dismissed that they have one their position or were found not guilty. To dismiss a case is someitmes called Nolle prosequi which is a Latin idiom meaning “will no longer prosecute”.

Nolle prosequi amounts to a dismissal of charges by the prosecution.

When a prosecution invokes nolle prosequi, some times called “nol prossed”, may simply be discontinuing prosecution. They may be doing this in the “in the interests of justice”) or because of lack of time, lack of evidence, or new evidence, or failure to obtain sufficient cooperation of witnesses, or to continue prosecution is not expedient or just to inconvenient... the prosecution or the judge may simply feel they have better things to do at this time.

Nolle prosequi not an acquittal, which (through the principle of double jeopardy) prevents further proceedings against the defendant for the conduct in question. The normal effect of nolle prosequi is to leave matters as if charges had never been filed if it occurs before trial begins such as in a hearing.

Nolle prosequi leaves the decision of whether to re-prosecute at a later time in the hands of the government. If the prosecution decides to bring charges again—for example, after it’s gathered more evidence—it must file a new charging document.[1]

If the dismissals is filed "with prejudice" the prosecution can’t ever re-file charges but if a dismissal or Nolle prosequi is filed "without prejudice" it means the opposite and prosecution may began at the governments discretion.


  1. People v. Daniels, 187 Ill. 2d 301 (1999), Kenyon v. Com., 37 Va. App. 668 (2002).