Some of the terminology used in a courtroom can be confusing if you do not have a legal background. When it comes to the dismissal of a case, the judge may do so with or without prejudice.
The Legal Information Institute explains one of those situations is more advantageous for you than the other, so understanding the difference between with and without prejudice is essential when the court is considering dismissing your case.
If the judge rules to dismiss your case without prejudice, it means that the prosecutor can refile charges against you. In this situation, prejudice means the court made a ruling of some type. In making the dismissal, the judge is saying that something went wrong in the case, which is usually something about the prosecution’s case breaking a rule, but that he or she is not saying anything about your guilty or innocence.
Ideally, you want the court to dismiss your case with prejudice. When a judge does this, he or she is making a determination of the facts and legal issues of the case. Essentially, the judge is issuing a ruling, so the prosecutor cannot bring the charges against you again without violating your rights.
Obviously, you wish to have the judge rule with prejudice in your case. It will mean you no longer have to worry about the prosecution charging you again. However, this does not mean the prosecutor cannot decide to charge you with another crime.
In some situations, the reason for the dismissal is because the prosecutor brought the wrong charges, such as first-degree murder, and if he or she changes the charges to second-degree murder, then the court will allow that case to proceed.