Nolle Prosequi: Definition & Meaning

Instructor: Marcia Neely

Marcia Neely is a teacher who holds both a MS degree in Reading & Literacy and a Ed Specialist degree in Curriculum & Instruction.

Nolle prosequi is a legal term and statement made in court and reflected upon in court records whereby the plaintiff or prosecutor wishes not to proceed any further in a suit or action. This lesson provides an overview of the definition, meaning, and legal implications of nolle prosequi.

Definition

Nolle prosequi is a Latin phrase meaning ''will no longer prosecute'', ''be unwilling to pursue'', or any variation with the same meaning. The prosecution invokes nolle prosequi (or dismissal) when it has decided to discontinue an entire prosecution or just part of it. Lawyers and judges refer to the charges as being ''nol prossed'' or dismissed. It can also be defined as a dismissal of charges by the prosecution.

Meaning

A declaration of nolle prosequi by a prosecutor in a criminal case or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit (either before or during a trial) means the case is being dropped. The case may be dropped for a variety of reasons. These might include that the charges cannot be proven, or evidence that has been gathered demonstrates either innocence or a fatal flaw in the case or claim, or the district attorney has become convinced that the accused is innocent.

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