Does case closed mean it's over?
January 7, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Someone that lives with my father was arrested for identity theft in Franklin County, OH and went to court last week. Can anyone help sort out the current status of the case based on the Public Records search? The person involved can't be trusted to provide a reliable account.

The public records search says that the charge is FALSIFICATION TAKING IDENTITY OF ANOTHER and the event was ARRAIGNMENT /FELONY. The status is CLOSED and the disposition code is DISMISSAL. I've done some searches online, but can't tell if this means that it's over and this person is not being charged, or if it was moved up to some higher court. The docket info for the court date says:
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Give the court a call, they should be able to provide you with this information over the phone.
posted by unreasonable at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2013

Yeah, you can give the court a call to make sure, but if it says "dismissed" that likely means the person is not being charged.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:47 AM on January 7, 2013

I would read that as the charges were dismissed.

Source: I spend my day looking at background checks.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2013

Generally speaking in jurisdictions I am familiar with (not including Ohio), the answer to your question is yes, a dismissal at arraignment means the case is closed and no further proceedings will be scheduled. There are myriad reasons why a case might be dismissed at arraignment and it's impossible to speculate accurately without being familiar with the particular court, but it is a relatively common occurrence (for different reasons) in every jurisdiction I am familiar with.

Among jurisdictions I am familiar with, it varies whether any further records would be kept for a case dismissed at arraignment. Depending on the courthouse, there may be a police report or some short narrative in the file, which would not be listed on a public-record database. However, I'm familiar with courts that wouldn't have anything like this, so there's no guarantee. It is possible, and would be typical of some jurisdictions, that no further information exists on record beyond what you've laid out.

If you are local, then I'd suggest driving to the courthouse. You may be able to view the file yourself. It is also possible, albeit unlikely, that a clerk will remember the case and be willing to answer your question(s). It is somewhat more likely, although this obviously varies from courthouse to courthouse, that you might be able to get the name of the prosecuting attorney who was assigned to that case or court session, and if you find that attorney it's possible he/she may recall the case and/or be willing to talk with you about it.

If you are not local, then you might try doing the same over the telephone. If it's unlikely that you'll get more information in person, then it's probably even less likely to happen over the telephone, but it's low-cost so probably worth a try. Again, getting information like this from courthouse staff depends entirely on how the individual courthouse is run and who answers the phone. You may get lucky. Call late in the day when the court is likely to be less busy. I'd suggest between two and four o'clock. If you have no luck with the courthouse, then you might try calling the prosecuting office.

I am not licensed in Ohio nor have I ever practiced there, so maybe an Ohio criminal attorney will come along and state that this information is incorrect. If so, then listen to him/her. I hope your father is alright and uninvolved. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2013

I think people have given you a good idea of what the current status may be, but it is within the realm of possibility as a general matter that a dismissed case can be refiled, either in the same court, if it was dismissed without prejudice, or elsewhere. Example: someone is indicted in state court for carrying a weapon unlawfully, state charges are dismissed, but federal charges for being a felon in possession of a firearm are later filed. So, "dismissed" may not really mean that the case is over in all forms in all courts.
posted by *s at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2013

This is where you did your records searching right?

In my limited experience as a witness, both the Franklin county court system and the building are a byzantine mess; if you plan to stop by the courthouse make sure you have some idea of where you are going and then plan to ask for directions over and over again. More conveniently, the online record should list a prosecuting attorney and you can google them for a phone number and email address. Send an email and then plan to call them at least a few times leaving voicemail messages before you get someone to either pick up or reply.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2013

You can only find out for sure by speaking to the authorities, but a dismissal does not necessarily mean it's "over" forever and ever. It may be over in the sense that the DA did not feel they had enough evidence to charge, but this could mean they are doing a fuller investigation of the case and could reinstate the charges later. It is not impossible, but pretty unlikely, that the case was dismissed with prejudice by the judge; more likely is that the judge, prosecutor, and defense had a conference and all those parties know the situation and are on roughly the same page.

In some instances a dismissal may be because the defendant did a favor for the court in another case like testifying against someone who is worse and a more desirable conviction. In others it could be as simple (and infuriating) as the law enforcement officer or another witness not showing up for a hearing.
posted by dhartung at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2013

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