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What is an Involuntary Dismissal?


In any criminal proceeding, the defendant’s aim will always be to vigorously defend their case so that they can gain a not-guilty verdict or an outright dismissal. He will take steps like hiring a trusted criminal defense lawyer, putting together a convincing set of evidence and gathering trustworthy witnesses that can corroborate their story. However, there are rare instances where the defendant gets a case dismissal without putting in more effort.

There are many ways where a court case may be dismissed before proceedings start, or even long after the first hearing. These actions may come at the order of the courts, or via the actions of the concerned parties. In this post, we will look into the motion called involuntary dismissal.

Involuntary Dismissal at a Glance

In essence, an involuntary dismissal is a court-mandated motion where a case, and the hearing thereof, is terminated. The dismissal can be enacted whether or not the plaintiff agrees to the motion. A number of factors effect the handing down of this motion, including but not limited to:

  • the plaintiff is not vigorously pursuing the case
  • the plaintiff is not complying with court orders
  • the court files the dismissal to adhere to Federal rules of Civil Procedure
  • one or both parties are not acting properly throughout court hearings

Note that these circumstances are generally applied to Federal courts. State laws may vary differently, depending on what their statutes are on the matter. In the case of Nevada, the rules for involuntary dismissal are generally the same, though additional circumstances that can lead to dismissal are listed in related statutes.

How It Works

As stated above, involuntary dismissal comes into effect when the plaintiff fails to vigorously prosecute the case. The defendant is free to file the motion for involuntary dismissal at any point in the proceedings if they believe that the other party has gone passive. The defendant may be required to show proof of the plaintiff’s inactivity in certain instances, however.

On the other hand, the judge can declare an involuntary dismissal of the case, even if the defendant has not filed a motion. It is one of the inherent powers of the court, and can be put in effect if the judge finds fault in either party. Due to coming straight from the judge, this form of involuntary dismissal is more straightforward.

Benefits to the Defendant

The immediate benefit of a successfully filed motion for involuntary dismissal is, of course, the outright dismissal of the case. Unlike other situations where the plaintiff can file a counter-motion to prevent the case from being thrown out, an involuntary dismissal is immune to such motions and is thus irreversible once placed into effect.

Another effect from an involuntary dismissal that benefits the defendant is the barring of the case from being put to trial again indefinitely. This means that the defendant does not need to worry about dealing with more legal procedures for as long as the voluntary dismissal is in effect. Only the presiding judge can determine whether or not the involuntary dismissal is no longer valid, which means that it can be in effect indefinitely.

Involuntary dismissals offer a quick and simple avenue for a defendant to do away with a major charge on their legal record, but it is not always assured that a defendant can get a chance to file for it. In the end, nothing beats having a seasoned criminal defense attorney representing you in court.

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