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Legal Dictionary

nolle prosequi

Definition of nolle prosequi

Etymology

    Latin

Noun

nolle prosequi (plural nolle prosequis or (rarer) nolle prosequies)

  1. (law) A declaration by the prosecutor that a civil or criminal prosecution will not proceed.

Verb

to nolle prosequi (third-person singular simple present nolle prosequis, present participle nolle prosequing, simple past and past participle nolle prosequied)

  1. (law, transitive, somewhat informal) To issue such an declaration about a particular (charge or case).

Synonyms

  • nol. pros., nol pros (both informal)

Further reading

Nolle prosequi (pronounced /ˈnɒli ˈprɒsəkwaɪ/; Latin: [ˈnolːe ˈproːsekwiː]) is a Latin legal phrase meaning "to be unwilling to pursue." It is the term used in many common law criminal jurisdictions to describe a prosecutor's application to discontinue criminal charges before trial, or up until, but before verdict.

Explanation

Nolle prosequi is a Latin term meaning "to be unwilling to prosecute".

It is a declaration made by a prosecutor in a criminal case or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped. The declaration may be made because the charges cannot be proved, the evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution's claim, or the prosecutor no longer thinks the accused is guilty, and/or the accused has died. It is generally made after indictment, but is not a guarantee that the person will not be reindicted.

In civil cases, a nolle prosequi may be entered as to one of several counts or to one of several defendants. In a criminal case, it has been held improper for a court to enter an order of nolle prosequi on its own without a motion by the prosecutor. As long as a jury trial has not been commenced, the entry of a nolle prosequi is not an adjudication on the merits of the prosecution, and the legal protection against double jeopardy will not automatically bar the charges from being brought again in some fashion.

Nolle prosequi is similar to a declination of prosecution, which is an agreement not to prosecute which may be made by an attorney, but also by the aggrieved party. In contrast, nolle prosequi is usually made after a decision to prosecute has already been made. A declination of prosecution may be made for many reasons, such as weak evidence or a conflict of interest.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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