Estate Planning and Business Law

Police May File Police Report "Charging" A Defendant With A Criminal Offense, But Is The District Attorney Who Decides If A Person Will Be Formally Charged By Filing A Criminal Complaint.

Police May File Police Report “Charging” A Defendant With A Criminal Offense, But Is The District Attorney Who Decides If A Person Will Be Formally Charged By Filing A Criminal Complaint.

In a recent matter, Blackwell Santaella & Jahangiri, LLP represented a client charged with criminal domestic abuse. After discussion with the client and applying law to facts as described by the client, we prepared to represent him in hopes of disposing of the matter quickly. We discussed the process of filing a criminal complaint at length. We arrived in court for the arraignment with a very nervous client. To his surprise, he learned that the DA declined to file charges against him. He walked out of court a free man.

Lesson learned – just because a person is arrested for a criminal offense it doesn’t mean [s]he will be formally charged with anything. The District Attorney has the authority to file a criminal complaint, not the police. Typically, after a person is arrested, the police department sends its report to the DA’s Office, which, based on the report, decides whether there is enough evidence to file charges.

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