Before charges are formally filed against a suspect, the district attorney’s office will review the facts and evidence contained in the police report to make a determination of whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges originally recommended by law enforcement. It is important to understand that law enforcement may only arrest and recommend charges to be filed. It is the district attorney’s office who makes the ultimate decision on which criminal charges, if any, will be formally filed in court.
Not all arrests or citations result in the filing of criminal charges. In some cases, the district attorney’s office may decide not to proceed with a case against a suspect. The district attorney’s office may decline to prosecute or “reject” a case if there is insufficient evidence or if more investigation is required.
Understand that there is a difference between the district attorney’s office actually “rejecting” a case and merely failing to have it filed by the arraignment date (or first court appearance). If the case is actually rejected, one must obtain a letter from the district attorney’s office stating this. If, however, there has just been a delay in filing, the district attorney’s office may still file charges at a later time. Generally, the statute of limitations to file misdemeanor charges is one year and three years on most felonies.
If the district attorney files the case beyond the applicable statute of limitations, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss the case and it should be granted. If the District Attorney delays filing charges for a significant period of time but files them within the statute of limitations your experienced criminal defense lawyer can file what is called a Serna Motion. When the defendant files a “Motion to Dismiss”, the defendant must show that he or she has been prejudiced by the delay.
The California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich count with over 30 years of experience defending clients facing all types of criminal charges. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in California, please call Wallin & Klarich today at 888-280-6839 to receive our immediate assistance. We’ll be there when you call.