You may have heard people call a case dismissed or expunged. Do those two legal terms mean the same thing? If not, what’s the difference between them, and what are some examples that set them apart?
In fact, a dismissal and an expungement are two very separate things. Here’s a rundown on how and why they differ.
What Is a Dismissal?
A dismissal occurs when a judge terminates a lawsuit in the belief that a plaintiff cannot or has not made a good enough case. Judges can dismiss a case on their own or grant a motion by the defense. A plaintiff may also move for a voluntary dismissal.
In a dismissal without prejudice, a case can be brought to court again. But if it’s dismissed with prejudice, the same suit cannot be refiled.
An example of a dismissal might be a case in which, halfway through a trial, new evidence comes to light indicating someone else was responsible for the crime. The judge might consider this evidence and grant a dismissal.
What Is an Expungement?
An expungement or expunction indicates the erasure of all or part of a legal record. When this happens, the criminal conviction is discarded, and it’s as though the arrest or conviction never occurred.
For instance, if someone was convicted of a felony years ago but had their record recently expunged, it would be as though the conviction never occurred. The person would not need to list the sentence on a job or apartment rental application.
Dismissal Vs. Expungement
The main differences between these terms are:
- A dismissal does not erase filed charges from someone’s permanent record
- An expungement can happen after a dismissal
Talk to an Expungement Lawyer in Delaware About Your Case
Has your case been dismissed? Would you like to ask for an expungement so the records erase everything related to your case? An expungement lawyer at our Wilmington or Newark office can advise you on how to proceed. Contact us to learn more.