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Discharge vs. Dismissal: What's the Difference?

When it comes to legal proceedings, the terms discharge and dismissal are often used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two that may be important when considering a particular case. Discharge is normally used in criminal cases, while dismissal applies more to civil law proceedings.

A discharge generally means that the charges against a defendant have been dropped or dismissed without any conviction being entered against them. Prosecutors may choose to drop charges if they do not feel they have enough evidence to proceed with a case or if an individual has completed certain court-ordered tasks as part of an agreement. In some cases, the judge may also enter an order of “nolle prosequi” which essentially means they will no longer pursue prosecution of the accused person.

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