Nolle Prosequi Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Nolle Prosequi, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Nolle Prosequi?

The latin word meaning ” Will not prosecute” is a formal entry in the records of the case in the court by the prosecutor in criminal case or plaintiff in civil cases, that they are not willing to go any further in the case. It thereby means that they are withdrawing their charges or claims against the defendants.

History and Meaning of Nolle Prosequi

The legal term "Nolle Prosequi" comes from the Latin phrase "Nolle Prosequi" which means "to be unwilling to pursue." It is a formal declaration that the prosecution or plaintiff in a criminal or civil case will not continue to pursue the case against the defendant. This declaration is often made before the trial begins, but can also be made at any point during the trial.

The use of Nolle Prosequi dates back to medieval England where the Crown was allowed to drop a criminal case if they believed that the defendant was wrongly accused or if they felt that the case lacked evidence. Today, this legal tool is still used in many common law jurisdictions as a way to end a case without having to go through a full trial.

Examples of Nolle Prosequi

  1. The prosecutor in a criminal case may file a Nolle Prosequi motion if they believe that the charges against the defendant cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
  2. In a civil case, the plaintiff may file a Nolle Prosequi motion if they decide to withdraw their claim against the defendant.
  3. If new evidence arises during a trial that was not available before, either the prosecutor or the plaintiff may decide to file a Nolle Prosequi motion to end the case.

Legal Terms Similar to Nolle Prosequi

  1. Dismissal: A legal motion to end a case, often requested by the defendant if they believe that the plaintiff or prosecutor does not have a valid claim.
  2. Acquittal: A verdict in a criminal case that finds the defendant not guilty of the charges.
  3. Settlement: An agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case to end the case without going to trial.