When a judge dismisses a case, he or she can choose to do so with prejudice or without prejudice. It is well worth your time to make sure you understand what these terms mean.
Which option the judge chooses will have an impact on your future and determine what happens next. It is not enough that the court dismissed the case. Whether it is with or without prejudice is a critical factor.
Without prejudice explained
When a judge dismisses a case without prejudice, it gives the prosecutor the option to refile charges against you. The judge found something wrong within the current case, which prompted the dismissal, but he or she is not making a statement about your innocence or guilt. It is not a ruling but rather a notice that the prosecutor messed something up during the case. Typically, it means the prosecution broke a rule, which would allow you to later appeal a guilty verdict and overturn it.
With prejudice defined
Ideally, if the court dismisses your case, you want it to be with prejudice. When this happens, it means the judge looked at the facts and legal issues of your situation and determined the prosecution had no viable case. A with-prejudice dismissal means the prosecutor cannot refile the case.
Note that the ruling applies only to this specific case and charges against you in this instance. The prosecutor could revise the case and file it with different charges. Still, it is in your favor to receive a with-prejudice ruling.
Judges review cases and make sure they are not a waste of the court’s time. Sometimes, that results in a dismissal. The judge will always declare if it is with or without prejudice.