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How are criminal charges filed in court after someone is arrested?

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Apr 23, 2007 | 0 Comments

The police officers that make the arrest complete all police reports about the crime, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation before submitting their work to a detective. As an example, in a domestic violence case, the detective in the assault unit usually follows up by contacting the witnesses and the alleged victim, to confirm whether the statements obtained by the responding officers were accurate and thorough. Often, this is they most propitious time for a defense lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a Pre-Filing Intervention, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. The police then bring their entire investigation to the District Attorney's Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge. If charges are filed, the next step in the criminal process is in court, at an Arraignment. The law firm of Kestebaum Eisner & Gorin LLP is a criminal defense firm discussing aggressive prefiling intervention with the prosecutor's office. Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense, high profile defense


Michelle J. on June 13, 2007 at 4:07 p.m. wrote: What roles do alternate jurors play? Are they present during the trial, or do they simply fill an empty seat when needed? And if so, is it really fair to have an alternate juror come in immediately before jury deliberations and verdict without having viewed the entire case? Eric T. on June 8, 2007 at 6:41 p.m. wrote: Criminal Court hears cases ranging from minor offenses (misdemeanors) such as traffic infractions to serious ones like robbery and murder (felonies). The state or prosecutor makes the charge against someone accused of committing a crime because a crime is considered an act against society. The prosecuting attorney presents the charge against the accused person (defendant) on behalf of the state (plaintiff), and must prove to the judge or jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A misdemeanor is punishable by fine or imprisonment in a city or county jail rather than in a state penitentiary. Felony cases are punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or, in extreme cases, by death. In all criminal cases, the defendant is presumed to be innocent. That means he or she may not be convicted unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal case begins when a prosecutor files formal charges, a person is arrested, or a grand jury issues an indictment. note information taken from: Law Blog on June 2, 2007 at 1:41 p.m. wrote: A defendant who wants to waive the right to a jury trial can do so if the prosecution agrees, as both sides have to give up this right so that the trial is litigated by the judge without a jury. The decision to waive a jury must be carefully considered, as it is usually not in the defendant's interest to do so. Jimmy Alamillo on May 30, 2007 at 12:30 p.m. wrote: What if a defendant chooses not to allow a trial by jury, does he or she really have a say in that? Law Blog on May 24, 2007 at 5:50 p.m. wrote: A prosecutor decides to file or reject a case based on whether he feels that(1)a criminal act was committed (2)this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and (3)whether the interests of justice require prosecution. The bottom line is yes there is some amount of subjectivity that goes into the process, but there is objectivity because DAs know what is enough evidence for a jury to convict based on their prior trial experiences. Law Blog on May 24, 2007 at 4:45 p.m. wrote: Every criminal case defendant has the right to a jury trial, as provided in the U.S. Constitution. The reason you do not see the jury on TV is the court's desire to keep jurors' anonymity, to present tampering or intimidation, and to encourage members of the public to servce. Jimmy Alamillo on May 22, 2007 at 11:22 a.m. wrote: How would the District Attorney's Office determine if an individual's actions warrant a case for criminal prosecution (or reject it as needing criminal prosecution for that matter), filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge. In some sense, wouldn't that be considered subjective: I mean, why is it that there's a gray area as to what is and is not considered one thing or another within our system of justice? Amy Y. on May 22, 2007 at 12:33 a.m. wrote: I know that every American has a right to trial by jury. However, in examples such as Court TV cases (I'm not sure how legitimate these actually are; is it acting?), you do not typically see a jury. Another example is in civil cases. Are juries only selected for high profile cases? Will a case in criminal court always have a jury? Will requesting a jury add up to more legal fees for the plaintiff and/or defendant? Is this why there isn't always the presence of a jury? On a separate note, is a plaintiff ever allowed to appeal? Law Blog on May 20, 2007 at 2:50 p.m. wrote: Grand juries investigate criminal activity in secret, to determine if there is 'probable' cause a crime has been committed. In state court, the D.A. either uses a grand jury to indict, or puts on evidence at the preliminary hearing to show probable cause. Either way, the defendant has the protection that a third party (grand jury or preliminary hearing judge) will review the evidence to determine if the defendant should answer the charges at trial. In federal court, all cases are presented to the grand jury. Law Blog on May 20, 2007 at 2:46 p.m. wrote: Celebrities, or other high-profile inmates are typically separated from general population in custody, due to the substantial risk of attacks as other inmates may want to make a name for themselves. Our firm has clients that receive extra protection in custody, but obviously there is still a chance they may be attacked, or at least threatened by other inmates. Ultimately, in Los Angeles County jails, the L.A. Sheriff's Department has a legal duty and responsibility to provide safe housing for its inmates, and is subject to lawsuits when someone in its custody is injured or killed. As an example, recently a witness was killed in the county jail, and his family received a large financial settlement. Law Blog on May 20, 2007 at 2:40 p.m. wrote: California law makes it illegal for someone over the age of 18, to have sexual relations with someone under the age of 18. The offense is commonly referred to as statutory rape. A defense to this crime is that the older party reasonably believed that his or her partner was over 18 (ie. because was told so, read it in their emails, the person acted as if over 18, etc.). The crime is frequently prosecuted even when the older participant is just a few years older. Law Blog on May 20, 2007 at 2:36 p.m. wrote: Not every case is presented to the District Attorney's Office - for example, if the police have insufficient evidence to merit a criminal filing. With Child Services cases, the DCFS officers are swamped and do not have the time to devote to a criminal investigation. They may refer cases to the police, and the police may refer cases to DCFS, but there must be some evidence of criminal wrongdoing before the District Attorney's Office reviews the evidence and decides on charging. Rianne H on May 17, 2007 at 12:41 p.m. wrote: When is an indictment by grad jury necessary? What exactly is envolved in that process? Are grand juries used in only criminal cases? Eric T. on May 17, 2007 at 1:32 a.m. wrote: Is there preferential treatment given to celebrities who are sentenced to serve jail time/prison time? In particular in the Paris Hilton case will Ms. Hilton be incarcerated with other women, who may have committed more serious crimes than her, and if so does this not pose a threat to her well-being? If so, can this be used as a leveraging point by her defense in that Ms. Hilton should be granted to serve her time not in jail but in a more suitable manner? Vasyl G on May 16, 2007 at 10:37 p.m. wrote: I have heard of certain scenarios in which case a couple engages in consensual sex, however one participant is not a legal adult. As a consequence, the adult is considered to have engaged in intercourse with a minor and is jailed as a result. I have not done much research on the topic and the situation I had mentioned might not happen often, but it raises a simple question: Is this law absolute or is there room for movement and reform? Nora on May 16, 2007 at 7:31 p.m. wrote: Does that mean that every single case investigated by police must be presented to the District Attorney's office? I'm wondering because I'm a social worker and working for DCFS (Department of Child and Family Sevices) I know from experience that with a huge caseload it is virtually impossible to adequately, and thouroughly investigate cases. Is this the case for distric attorneys?

About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...


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