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Understanding the Criminal Charging Process

At The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., we believe in empowering our clients with knowledge. By understanding how law enforcement and legal professionals initiate criminal charges, you can better navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. Here's what you need to know about how individuals can be charged with crimes.

After an individual is taken into custody, the arrest report crafted by law enforcement is reviewed by a prosecutor – a legal professional responsible for initiating and overseeing criminal cases. This arrest report details the incident that led to the arrest, including specific information such as the time and date of the alleged offense, the location, prevailing weather conditions, and any available witness testimony. Based on this report, the prosecutor may take one of the following actions:

  • File a complaint in trial court, specifying whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Present the case to a grand jury, consisting of citizens who determine potential felony charges.
  • Elect not to pursue the case due to insufficient evidence or other considerations.

It's important to note that prosecutors have the discretion to file charges that could be more or less severe than those initially established by the police.

Timeliness in Filing Charges

Speedy trial statutes require that charges be filed expeditiously, particularly when suspects are in detention. Such timelines can vary by jurisdiction; for instance, California mandates that charges be presented within 48 hours following an arrest. Prosecutors retain the capacity to modify the initial charges as the proceedings continue, sometimes waiting for a preliminary hearing to refine their allegations.

Factors Influencing a Prosecutor’s Charging Decision

Deciding whether to file charges is a multifaceted process, potentially influenced by various factors that exceed the particulars of the police report. Prosecutorial offices may adhere to internal policies shaped by community sentiments, particularly with respect to certain crimes. These policies help shape the prosecutors' strategies case-by-case.

Political motivations may also come into play, as many prosecutors have future electoral ambitions. They may leverage their charging decisions to garner public approval or align with influential community groups. Furthermore, the abstract notion of justice can profoundly affect a prosecutor's judgment. Pursuing legal action, or consciously opting for leniency, might be influenced by the broader interests of justice and fairness, taking into consideration the broader context surrounding each case.

The Role of a Grand Jury

In cases involving felony charges, grand juries may be convened to determine the appropriateness of issuing formal charges. These grand juries differ considerably from petit (trial) juries in their function, size, and duration of service. They operate in secrecy, assessing evidence to decide if sufficient cause exists to proceed with a trial without requiring unanimity for an indictment.

Grand Jury Deliberations

Prosecutors, when presenting cases to grand juries, introduce evidence in the form of a "bill" of charges, aiming to secure indictments while maintaining the confidentiality of the proceedings. Witnesses may be called without the presence of the suspect or their legal counsel. While suspects can sometimes access these proceedings' transcripts later on, they are generally not involved at this preliminary stage.

Grand jury indictments, known as "true bills," enable the prosecutor to move forward with charges, even in the absence of a formal indictment; the prosecutor has options to gather and resubmit evidence to the same or a different grand jury. Alternatively, a prosecutor can sidestep the grand jury process by directly filing a criminal complaint, triggering a preliminary hearing to test the sufficiency of the evidence, unless the case proceeds via grand jury indictment.

Navigating the criminal justice system and understanding the nuances can be challenging. Should you or a loved one face criminal charges, The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., is prepared to provide the informed guidance and tenacious legal representation required to defend your rights. Contact us at 303-355-5148 to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

Client Reviews
"An excellent lawyer choice for my son who was charged with driving while his license was revoked. DMV had mistakenly sent (3) letters of revocation to the incorrect address, so I hired Monty to prove that my son never knew his license was revoked. Monty kept me informed at all times as to what was happening and what he doing to prove my son's innocence in this matter. We were to appear in court on 29 March 2012 and Monte informed us on 27 March 2012, that the case had been dismissed!!! Monte charged a fair, flat rate for what he did in this matter and should the need arise to hire a lawyer or to recommend a lawyer, I would not hesitate to give Monte's name.” Linda
"I consulted three other attorneys on my traffic offense in Colorado and none of them thought I could beat it. Then I consulted with Monte Robbins. He not only relieved my warrant without my presence in Colorado, but he got my habitual driving offense reduced to an infraction. I was up against the wall on this case but thanks to Monte miracles are possible. I have hired my share of attorneys and Monte Robbins has produced the best results for me yet. After being without my driving privileges for ten years I paid a small fine and am legal with a clean record. I Highly recommend this attorney." Steve
"I hired Monte J. Robbins to represent me. He gave 110% to my case never rushed me off the phone, quick to gather all information regarding my case. Monte is very knowledgeable and helped me out a lot. He kept me informed every step of the way through my case. I was always able to get a hold of him for any questions i had. The outcome of my case was way better then i had expected. Monte did a excellent job on my case and I would highly recommend him to anyone. Monte won my case and I am confident that he can do the same for anyone else." Jeremy