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Interviewer: What does the term “scratching” mean? Is it a legal term?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: When a person has a felony case pending, it’s going to be assigned a pre-file number. It would say something like “PF 2013” or “2014,” “104369.” That would be a pre-file. A lot of people will come to court on the date that’s listed on their paperwork and the court will tell them, “Your case has been scratched.”
If a Case Has Been Scratched, It Will Most Probably Be Filed in the Future
Now, when it’s scratched, it doesn’t mean that it’s dismissed. It means that it will be probably filed in the future. The state has seven years in which to file a case. A case like an aggravated DUI will generally get scratched if they don’t have lab results, if the court date is soon after the date of the stop, but in an aggravated DUI, we usually see those come back within the year or so.
When a case is scratched, it doesn’t mean that it’s dismissed or that it’s going to go away for good. It means that it will very likely come up in the future, and the state has seven years in which they can file the case.
The State Has a Seven-Year Statute of Limitations in Which to File a Case
Interviewer: What if it surpasses those seven years, beyond that?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: If it goes beyond that, it’s likely not to come up, because under the statute of limitations the state wouldn’t be able to bring the case up then.
Most Cases Are Typically Filed within a Year
Interviewer: What’s the average amount of time where a case would be active again? Is there a certain set amount of time where it might be active or it might be going away?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Usually we see it come back within the year. If it’s longer than a year, those are rare cases. Usually we see cases that are scratched come up within the year.
Most Cases Are Scratched because the State Hasn’t Gathered Adequate Evidence
Interviewer: With scratched cases, is that beneficial for the person’s case or is it detrimental?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: It’s not really either. When someone’s case is scratched, it means that it’s just not going forward on that date. It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to come up in the future.
Like I said, it’s most likely because the state doesn’t have lab results yet or they haven’t gathered all the evidence. That’s usually why a case will get scratched. Even when it is scratched, it’s not going to benefit or hurt the client in any way.
Only Felony Cases Are Subject to Scratching
Interviewer: You said this is for only felonies, though?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Right. The term scratching applies only to felony cases
Interviewer: What if it’s a case that someone is waiting for a long time and they have a pending trial, while they’re searching for jobs maybe? Is that going to hurt them, if they have something that’s been scratched?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Well, if a case is scratched, it’s not going to show up on their record yet, so there won’t be any sort of conviction or anything. When a case is scratched and we go into the system to look for it, it won’t even show up at that point.
If certain release conditions are assigned to that person and their case eventually gets scratched, they’re not going to have to deal with that any longer because the case, in a sense, goes away for a little while. There are no restrictions on that person during that time.