After the arrest or investigation of a criminal or DUI charge, law enforcement will write a police report, which details the officer’s version of the events. This report is used to prosecute the accused and is unlikely to have all the details that could assist the suspect.
Anyone accused of a crime is generally not entitled to a report because it contained witnesses’ names and other relevant information that may lead to the witnesses’ identity. Once a report is prepared, the police department will forward the report to the prosecutor for review.
A criminal complaint is a charging document that names a defendant and contains a short statement of essential facts about an alleged crime. Prosecutors (sometimes referred to as district attorneys), and/or U.S. Attorneys will file most criminal prosecutions in federal or state court. When a complaint is filed with the Court, it formally begins the criminal process. At this stage, many constitutional rights attached, including the right to an attorney and the right not to testify against one’s self.
State courts hear most DUI cases unless the crime occurred on federal lands or State boarders are crossed. All law enforcement will submit police reports and requests for the issuance of a criminal complaint to the prosecutor. Every report must be reviewed in a timely manner to determine if sufficient evidence exists to support the filing of a criminal complaint. The district attorney should ensure they are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed and the defendant committed the crime.
Prosecutors are not required to file a complaint for all requested charges. They may reject or decline the request or send it back to the law enforcement agency with a request for additional investigation. If the case is rejected, the file is closed and no additional work is done unless another request is received that contains additional evidence.
When the prosecutor elects to file a complaint, they are not required to file every charge. In many cases, only the most serious offenses are filed. For example, if the officer pulls a person over for speeding and then arrests the driver for DUI, the district attorney may only file the DUI charges. If the prosecutor files charges and later learns that there is not enough evidence to prosecute, the charges, or even the complaint, may be dismissed against the defendant. Just because the DA does not file all charges does not mean that you do not have to defend the DUI.
On the other hand, if the patrol officer did not request prosecution on certain crimes, but the prosecutor believes more crimes have been committed, the prosecutor may elect to file more charges than was requested by the officer. The prosecutor may amend a complaint to add or remove charges at any time before trial, and in some instances, even during trial.
Within two court days of arrest, the suspect will appear again for an arraignment if he's being held without bail. If he's been released from jail, the arraignment could be months or weeks after the arrest. Arraignment hearings require the judge to inform the defendant of the charges, including any prior offense allegations. At arraignment, the most common pleas are guilty, not guilty or no contest.If the suspect was jailed pending the issuance of a complaint, the suspect will be released from custody. This can lead to a false sense of security by the suspect because jail officials may tell them no charges are pending or they were dismissed, which is not the case. If the file is reopened, the District Attorney may file a complaint, without notifying the defendant. This will result in an arrest warrant, many times without the defendant knowing of the case, the charges, or even the court hearing.
Adding charged to a criminal DUI complaint has become a common practice with Fresno County District Attorneys in order to force a client to enter a guilty plea to a DUI. The most common charge that is added for a DUI is lying to a police officer in violation of Vehicle Code section 31 if the driver did not tell the officer he drank and the correct amount of alcohol that is consumed.
In misdemeanor cases, the complaint is what is read to the jury at trial. If the case is a felony, the compliant is a preliminary pleading that is used initiate a case. Once a defendant is held to answer after a preliminary hearing, an information is filed. An information is required in all felony prosecutions. Much like an arraignment, it sets out the charges against the defendant. The information is used at trial for felony cases only.
A defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches when the government initiates adversarial criminal proceedings. Arraignments are the first of many criminal proceedings and thus, the assistance of counsel clause is guaranteed by all defendants in misdemeanor and felony cases.
Because you have a right to counsel, it is important to choose a criminal and DUI lawyer to represent you at your arraignment. If you have any questions on your rights at an arraignment or would like to discuss your criminal or DUI case for free, please feel free to contact us and we will gladly give you all the information so you understand your rights.