The Difference between Nolle and Dismissal of a Criminal Case – What You Need to Know


A vast proportion of criminal cases in Connecticut are resolved through either effective negotiations by Connecticut Criminal Lawyers or through the utilization of diversionary programs. A lot of the criminal cases I handle each year wind up getting nolled or dismissed, this is especially the case with first time offenders. Frequently, the State’s Attorney will offer to nolle the charge. Nolle is a Latin term which essentially means to stop prosecuting the case. Generally, a nolle is a favorable outcome and results in the eventual dismissal of the charges against you. However, there are some circumstances where a nolle is not in the client’s best interest. The purpose of this blog post is to give a brief overview of the differences between a nolle and a dismissal and explain some of the pitfalls that can result from a nolle. Nothing can take the place of the legal advice and counsel of a Connecticut Criminal Lawyer so please contact our office for a free consultation is you have any questions about your specific case.

What is a Nolle?

A nolle is a Latin term for the prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute a case. The State does not have the resources to prosecute every case and for various reasons may decide not to go forward with a particular case. Generally, a good criminal defense lawyer will work to convince the State’s Attorney to nolle your case by highlighting any weakness in the State’s case and providing mitigation materials to show evidence of your good character.

Effect of a Nolle

When a nolle is entered and accepted the case goes dormant for 13 months. Technically, the State can re-open the prosecution of the case within those 13 months but in practice this almost never happens absent very unusual circumstances. After 13 months the case is automatically dismissed and pursuant to the erasure statute C.G.S. §54-142a all State police records of your arrest are by operation of law erased and destroyed and you are deemed to have never been arrested. The problem of course with a nolle is that 13 month period of waiting which can cause significant problems for some clients.

Problems with a Nolle

A nolle is a great way to quickly end your case in a manner that eventually leads to a dismissal. The problem is that it takes 13 months for the nolle to convert to a dismissal. During those 13 months any prospective employer who is looking to hire you will continue to find your arrest information available at local police departments. This can present serious problems for anyone doing a job search or looking to change employers. Secondly, with the advent of newspapers publishing so many arrests online the slandering your reputation on google has become a major issue for many clients who have been arrested. Luckily, we are able to remove most of these articles for clients who have had their cases dismissed through our internet scrubbing service. The problem is when the State enters a nolle it is impossible for us to start working on removing the articles from the internet until the expiration of the 13 months. Finally, for clients with immigration issues who need to renew a work visa, green card or other immigration related matters the need to wait those 13 additional month can present a complication.

For all these reasons it is really important to consult with your Criminal Defense Lawyer before you accept a nolle to make sure it is the best option for you and consider if there are any other available options.

Right to Object to a Nolle

Pursuant to C.G.S.A. § 54-56b you have the absolute right to object to a nolle and either demand an immediate dismissal of the charges or to have the case placed on the trial list. This means that you have to agree to the entry of the nolle. In most cases Criminal Defense Lawyers would agree to a nolle, but as set for in the proceeding paragraph, there are some situations where it is not in the client’s best interest to accept a nolle. The problem with not accepting a nolle is that the State may disagree with a dismissal of the charges for a variety of reasons and insist that the case be put on the trial list instead of agreeing to a dismissal which is not in your best interests. If you are facing a decision on whether or not to accept a nolle you should have a consultation with an experienced Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney to review all options so you can make an informed decision on the best choice to make.

What is a Dismissal?

When your case is dismissed all Court and police records of your arrest and case are destroyed and pursuant to the erasure statute you are deemed to have never been arrested. (The F.B.I. continues to maintain a database of your arrest records, even for cases that have been dismissed). You are entitled as a matter of law to state that you have never been arrested on any job application. A dismissal can enter as a result of an acquittal after trial, the successful completion of a diversionary program such as the accelerated rehabilitation program or by the agreement of the State’s Attorney to enter a dismissal and the Court’s entry of the dismissal on the record. In many situations the entry of a dismissal by agreement with the State will require you to stipulate on the record that probable cause existed for your arrest. This is to shield the police from any potential liability for false arrest. When your case is dismissed you should immediately obtain a certificate of disposition from the clerk’s office which will be the only way you can later prove that your case was in fact dismissed. Upon a dismissal we can immediately work to remove adverse content from newspapers and the patch through our internet scrubbing service

Contact a Connecticut Criminal Lawyer who works on Online Reputation Management and Dismissals of Criminal Charges today!

With so much at stake it is important, if you have been arrested, to work to minimize the consequences of any arrest by working strategically to choose the best solution to manage the collateral consequences of your arrest such as online arrest articles and social media postings. Call the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman today at 203.357.5555 to arrange a free initial consultation to review the best approach to your particular case.







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