For most people that never have any serious brush with the law, attending court for a trial usually means one of two things, a verdict of “guilty” or “innocent,” although in actuality, the specific verdict is “not guilty” and means that a person has been acquitted through the determination of a jury or judge.
But there are other resolutions that can be reached in a court case that go just beyond the simply, binary verdicts of guilty or not. A case can be dismissed, a case can be stayed, and a case can be withdrawn.
But what does the term “case withdrawn” mean? We’re going to take a closer look at it now.
No Need To Proceed
The term “case withdrawn” means that court has decided, after evaluating the merits of a specific case, that there is no need to continue the trial and arrive at a conclusion of guilty or not guilty. In other words, the court has decided to “cancel” the entire case, drop the charges and let everyone return to their normal lives. This means that, at the moment that a withdrawal occurred, there was already an initial hearing where a plea of guilty or not guilty had already been entered, and the trial may even already be in progress.
There are a few reasons why a case may be withdrawn. In some instances, the Crown, that is, the prosecution, may, for whatever reason, simply not have any evidence to present to the court. In other instances, a case withdrawn resolution has occurred because it took too long for the case itself to finally go to court. The defence lawyers have successfully argued that a violation of defendant rights occurred with unacceptable delays before a fair trial could begin. What it all boils down to, in the simplest terms, is that your case is being “thrown out” of court and charges will be dropped.
Still On Record
However, the term case withdrawn does not actually mean “case erased.” It’s important to note that even if you did not get a verdict of guilty or not guilty, and did not serve a jail sentence, everything preceding this is still on record. This means that if someone decides to conduct a background check there will still be a notification of something on your record, with the arrest, fingerprinting, hearing with charges and final result of the case being withdrawn all still a matter of public record.
This is where things get tricky. Even if you didn’t actually get convicted for a crime, a withdrawal is still something that appears in a legal, publicly available background check. At that point, it’s up to the person reading the background check to decide how they would like to react in light of this new information.
For the purposes of employment, some management may carefully consider this new data, decide it has no bearing on the present job, since there was no conviction, and offer to hire the applicant. In other cases, the presence of anything questionable that anyone can view if they decided to pay the fee for a background check may make a manager reluctant to hire a person when other similarly qualified candidates have clean records. For travel purposes, you may be turned away at the border to the USA simply because of the presence of an arrest, if the attending officers choose to exercise that right after conducting a background check.
Getting Your Criminal Charge Cleared
The good news is, just because someone has a case withdrawn on their public record, it doesn’t mean it has to stay there. A file destruction can eliminate any evidence of an arrest, fingerprinting, and even final court decision of a case withdrawn from your record. At that point, if anyone conducts a background check, nothing will come up.
A file destruction for a case withdrawn does not have a very long waiting period, compared to a record suspension/pardon for an actual conviction, which will take a few years to be processed. For a case withdrawn, you can begin the process of a file destruction approximately five months after the settlement in court. At that point, all evidence of an arrest, finger printing and subsequent withdrawal will be removed from public access with the Canadian Police Information Centre.
We Can Assist You
If you’ve had a case withdrawn, and are interested in making sure that nothing comes up in any background checks you may be subject to, we can help. Contact us to explain the details of your case and your wish for a file destruction. We can walk you through all the steps and help you get the clean background record you’re seeking.