One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are accused of a crime is to wait to call a criminal defense attorney. Even if the person has been arrested, until they are formally charged with a crime or a formal complaint is filed by the District Attorney with the clerk of court, the attorney could be able to prevent the charges from being filed at all. Keep reading to learn more about the process and then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you need a free legal consultation with an attorney.
There Are Two Ways in Which Charges Can Be Filed Against You
The first thing to understand is the process that leads to an arrest. It can occur in one of two ways. First comes the pre-filing investigation in which the police investigate the crime but do not make arrests. Once the officer has collected as much evidence as they can, they meet with the prosecutor and recommend charges. At that point, the prosecutor can determine there is a reason to issue an arrest or that there is not enough evidence to move forward.
If they choose to file charges, you will either get a written notice by mail with the charges you are facing and a court date to appear, or you will have a warrant issued for your arrest. At this point, formal charges have been filed and your defense attorney can help defend you but they cannot impact the prosecutor’s decision regarding whether or not to file.
The second way it can happen is if the police make a physical arrest and take you to jail without an official investigation. This generally happens if you are “caught in the act” of something like drunk driving or a theft crime. After your arrest, the police write their report and send it to the prosecutor. It is once again up to the prosecutor to determine if formal charges should be filed.
Your Attorney Might Be Able to Help in Several Ways
In both scenarios outlined above, the prosecutor can decide if they want to file charges or reject the case. In California they have one year to file charges for a misdemeanor, three years to file charges for most felony offenses, and longer statutes of limitations for specific felony charges.
There is a gap between the time of the police report and the time that the prosecutor decides whether or not to file charges. It is during this period that your attorney may be able to help impact their decision. They can work to convince the prosecutor that there is not enough evidence. They can provide evidence that shows the crime did not occur in the way it is being presented.
The bottom line is this: There is no reason to wait for charges to be filed before calling a criminal defense attorney. You can contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 now for a free legal consultation.