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Nolle Prosequi – Definition

George Simons | October 19, 2022

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Nolle prosequi is basically when a prosecutor chooses to dismiss a case. Here is SoloSuit's guide on nolle prosequi and how it applies in debt collection cases.

If you are embroiled in a legal dispute, such as a debt collection lawsuit or having charges brought against you by the state, you may hear the term, “Nolle Prosequiand ask yourself, “what the heck does that mean?” Here is the answer - Nolle Prosequi is a phrase with Latin origins that basically means, "will no longer prosecute." It is tantamount to a prosecutor deciding to dismiss charges that were filed against you.

Is Nolle Prosequi a common legal term used across the country?

No, the term Nolle Prosequi is not a common term or a foundational phrase of parlance by members of the legal community. In fact, some states (e.g., New York) do not even use the phrase during legal proceedings. Instead, many states have embraced using clearer and more modern phrases such as “dismissal.”

Understand the connection between Nolle Prosequi and the dismissal of a lawsuit

Nolle Prosequi is often invoked by a prosecutor if, after reviewing the relevant evidence, decide that it is prudent to discontinue the prosecution against you, or a loved one. Once a prosecutor has invoked Nolle Prosequi, defense attorneys and judges then refer to the charges that were filed as "nol prossed" or dismissed. Please keep in mind that a prosecutor has the discretionary authority to Nolle Prosequi all charges brought against you, or only some of the charges.

Is a Nolle Prosequi filing the equivalent of an acquittal?

No, a prosecutor deciding to invoke Nolle Prosequi is not the same thing as an acquittal by a jury. Nevertheless, the ramifications of a prosecutor invoking Nolle Prosequi means it is as though the charges were never filed against you. That is quite different from a jury acquitting you of the charges. Another big distinction is that an acquittal of charges means that the government is effectively prohibited from engaging in further legal proceedings for those specific charges (commonly referred to as “double jeopardy”). If, on the other hand, a prosecutor invokes Nolle Prosequi prior to trial, it leaves open the proverbial door for the government to file the same charges against you at a later date.

Nolle Prosequi and debt collection lawsuits

The invocation of Nolle Prosequi does not typically occur when someone is being subjected to a debt collection lawsuit. This is primarily due to the fact that Nolle Prosequi is a legal tool most commonly used by prosecutors handling criminal cases. A debt collection lawsuit filed by a collection agency or creditor is handled by civil courts. Nevertheless, the possibility of having a debt collection lawsuit dismissed prior to trial by the attorney, or attorneys, representing the creditor is a very real thing. For example, there are instances when a debt collector inadvertently filed suit against you when you did not actually owe the debt. In this scenario, if you make clear that the debt collector filed suit against the wrong party, they may opt to simply dismiss the collector lawsuit.

Remember, creditors and debt collectors only have a limited time to pursue a debt. Otherwise, they may not be able to recover the amount owed.

As a result, they may decide to sell the debt account to another debt collection agency. Alternatively, they may pass it on to another agency under their business. Regardless of where it lands, you can be sure that the debt account has switched hands at least twice.

Numerous mistakes could happen during the process. For instance, a computing error is all it takes to change the debt amount or the details of the consumer who allegedly owes the debt. This is why most debt collection attorneys advise their clients to request the debt collection agency to verify the debt account.

The request for verification is usually submitted after the consumer receives a notice about a lawsuit filed against them by the debt collection agency. When they receive this notice, they can either admit, deny, or simply state that they don't understand some aspects of the claims.

As a result, it will be the debt collector's responsibility to prove that the consumer owes the stated amount. If they can't prove this, there won't be any legal grounds to sue the consumer.

You can use these affirmative defenses in a debt collection lawsuit

You have different affirmative defenses to choose from when you want to dispute a debt collection lawsuit. An affirmative defense refers to the reason you believe the plaintiff does not have any legal grounds to file a claim or lawsuit against you. Here are some common examples of affirmative defenses you can use in your debt collection lawsuit:

  • The debt was paid either partially or in full: If this is your affirmative defense, you'll be required to provide evidence of the payment made to the debt account. You'll need a receipt or any other eligible proof.
  • The statute of limitations has expired: The statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to take legal action against a defendant. The statute of limitations for debt collection lawsuits varies from state to state. If the statute of limitations on your debt has expired, the plaintiff can't file a lawsuit against you.
  • Violations of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: The FDCPA has strict guidelines debt collection agencies must follow when pursuing a debt. If they violate these guidelines, you may be able to countersue.

Other common affirmative defenses include stolen identity, mistaken identity, the debt was part of a bankruptcy case, and the debt collection agency had poor bookkeeping.

When the debt collection company realizes that your affirmative defenses are justified, chances are they will not want to proceed with the lawsuit. This is because the judge will most likely throw the case out of court. To avoid this, they might enter a nolle prosequi, preventing the case from heading to trial.

But this doesn't necessarily mean that the debt collector will stop contacting you. They may still attempt to recover the debt out of court but cannot file a lawsuit or take any action against you.

Use SoloSuit to fight debt collectors

SoloSuit can help you defend yourself when debt collectors come after you for a debt you owe. It's important to remember that you have options when it comes to debt collection.

After their initial contact, try sending a Debt Validation Letter to the debt collector. This is a formal request for them to validate your debt. If they don't have the proper documentation and proof to verify that the debt is actually yours, chances are they will back off.

If you have been sued for a debt you owe, the first step to winning in court is to respond to the lawsuit with a written Answer. Check out this video to learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit:

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

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