Anne Bishop, P. O. Box 313, Gainesville, GA 30503 (770) 783-5296

A. Bishop Law, LLC

I Just Want My Case Dismissed: Probable Cause Versus Reasonable Doubt

Our firm frequently receives calls from someone charged with a large or small criminal offense and the caller proceeds to describe their side of the story and then states "I just want my case dismissed."

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The main confusion in just wanting to get a case dismissed seems to arise with the confusion regarding the Legal Standard for Arrest versus the Legal Standard for Conviction; Probable Cause versus Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

John Breakfield is an experienced Hall County, Georgia Criminal Defense DUI & Traffic Attorney and is dedicated to protecting your rights in matters regarding Speeding Tickets, DUI, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury. Please call Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys 770-783-5296.

Attorney Anne Bishop, explains the question of Probable Cause versus Reasonable Doubt in Hall County, Georgia, criminal cases.

Probable Cause

The standard for Arresting or giving someone a Ticket is Probable Cause. This means is there a Reasonable Belief that there is more evidence For than Against the charge.  In other words, is it More Likely than Not that the person committed a crime.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The Standard for a Conviction is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.  Reasonable Doubt means a Doubt that is Based on Reason and Arising from Evidence or Lack of Evidence.  It is not imagined doubt or an excuse for performing the juror’s duty.

Presumption of Innocence

It is important to remember that the Presumption of Innocence is a legal standard.  This important standard means that a person is Presumed Innocent (even after arrest) unless and until the Government proves the Defendant committed each aspect of the Criminal Offense to a jury or judge, in the jury’s place.  A Defendant is only Guilty when he has been proven Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Factual Example of Probable Cause versus Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Cops respond to a 911 call from a girlfriend about boyfriend hitting her and find a bruised woman who states that her boyfriend hit her.  Boyfriend is not on the scene.  Cops go to Magistrate Court Judge to get an arrest warrant for boyfriend.  Boyfriend is arrested on warrant.  Boyfriend says that he had a dispute with girlfriend, but did not strike her.

Probable Cause Standard Regarding Dismissal – Scenario 1:  Is it More Likely than Not that a crime occurred?  The facts are:  1. Girlfriend called 911, 2. Cops find bruising, and 3. Woman says she was struck by boyfriend.  Compare to boyfriend’s defense of him saying there was a dispute, but he did not strike his girlfriend.  This case will almost certainly NOT be dismissed, because there are clearly two sides to the dispute about what happened, but it is clear that the dispute did occur.  Absent a reason to doubt the victim, almost all prosecutors would prosecute this type of case.  A jury, or a judge sitting in place of the jury, would have to make a decision of Guilty or Not Guilty based on the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Standard at trial.

Probable Cause Standard Regarding Dismissal – Scenario 2:  All the facts of Scenario 1 are the same, except boyfriend provides evidence that he was out of state at the time of the alleged incident.  Under this Scenario 2, is it More Likely than Not a crime occurred?  Most prosecutors, if the evidence of the boyfriend being out of State was believed, would dismiss the case under Scenario 2.  These facts are murky at best and, at worst, a false reporting of a crime.  If the prosecutor did not dismiss the case, most defendants would be correct in taking the matter to trial in front of a judge or jury under the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Standard.


Just because a Defendant’s version of events is different that the cops or the victim’s does not mean the case will be dismissed.  Due to the lower standard of Probable Cause, the defendant will likely need to find and present clear evidence to show that a case does not meet the lower Probable Cause Standard.  If no clear evidence exists, then the case will be tried at the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Standard with the Defendant having the Presumption of innocence.  If the prosecutor presents evidence Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, then, the Presumption of Innocence is overcome and the Defendant could be convicted.

At A. Bishop Law, our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney welcomes questions on Criminal Defense laws, Traffic Laws and Georgia DUI laws. Please Call or Email us with any questions.

About the attorney:  Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWIMarijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters.  The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, OakwoodFlowery Branch), Jackson County  (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.

This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.

Anne Bishop
A. Bishop Law, LLC
Attorney at Law
539 Green Street NW
Phone: (770) 783-5296