Notice of Complaint Filed: Essential Steps to Take in Orange County

a letter being sent to a person in the mail who was arrested for prostitution charge

What is this notice of complaint filed?

Receiving a ‘notice of complaint filed’ from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office marks the beginning of a legal process, and this document is designed to inform you that a case has been initiated against you in court. This letter is usually sent out when you have an initial court date. However, you showed up, took to the court case, and there was nothing filed. Subsequently, this notice of complaint filed will come about 45 to 60 days after your initial court date, giving you notice that there is an arraignment date for your criminal matter at Orange County Superior Court.

Three important points synthesized from the article:

  1. Understanding a ‘Notice of Complaint Filed’: A ‘notice of complaint filed’ in Orange County signifies the start of legal proceedings against you. This formal document is issued by the District Attorney’s Office and outlines the charges you’re facing, marking the importance of your upcoming arraignment date. If you ignore this notice, you risk further legal complications, including the potential issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest.
  2. Consequences of Ignoring the Notice: Failing to respond to a ‘notice of complaint filed’ by not appearing in court can lead to serious consequences, such as the issuance of a bench warrant, potential arrest, and an unfavorable legal outcome. It’s critical to either appear on the scheduled date or have a criminal defense attorney represent you, especially in cases of misdemeanors.
  3. Importance of Legal Representation: Hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can significantly influence the outcome of your case. An attorney can obtain and scrutinize the police report, represent you in court, and negotiate on your behalf, potentially mitigating charges or penalties you’re facing. Legal representation is particularly crucial for understanding and navigating the complexities that come with charges like DUIs and domestic violence cases.
hit and run letter

When you receive a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ you’ll encounter documentation like the one shown on the left, explaining why your case isn’t on the calendar. Reason number one indicates that your paperwork hasn’t been received yet; number two signifies that your case remains under review; and number three suggests your case was returned for further investigation. Additionally, at the bottom of the page, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to monitor the progress of your case, including a phone number you’re advised to call every two to three weeks for updates on your situation.

Understanding the Complaint notice of complaint filed

When you receive a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ it’s essential to understand what this legal document represents. A notice of complaint filed is a formal legal document outlining the charges against you. In Orange County, California, it is filed at the court by a District Attorney or prosecutor. The process following a complaint involves a prosecutor reviewing a police report and determining whether they have enough evidence against you to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime. Complaints for misdemeanor criminal charges in Orange County can be filed in any one of the courts, whether it be Fullerton, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, or the Westminster courthouse. The process is the same. Once the complaint is filed, the District Attorney’s office will send you a notice of complaint filed for the purpose of informing you of your court date.

The process of filing a complaint

It’s important that you show up to your court date on the date of the complaint, or you will need to hire a criminal defense attorney to go on your behalf if this is a misdemeanor crime. There are repercussions for not attending the scheduled court date, one of which is that you will have a bench warrant issued for your arrest. A bench warrant for arrest means that any officer has been instructed by the courts to take you into custody because you were not present on your court date. If an officer does arrest you for the bench warrant, they will hold you in custody at the jail. In this situation, many people might choose to plead guilty to the charge, regardless of its veracity, just for the purpose of getting out. It’s crucial that you do not miss this court date.

The Arraignment Process

The ‘notice of complaint filed’ also serves as an indicator of your arraignment date. The date on the notice of complaint filed is for your arraignment. If your case is a misdemeanor, then the first day you go to court is when you can enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Additionally, if you have an attorney, they will be able to obtain the police report and make additional requests for any audio or video related to your case. On this arraignment date, there may also be the possibility of being taken into custody if this is a second or third DUI or a domestic violence case. If this possibility arises, you will have to address bail.

Potential Custody and Bail Considerations

The issue of bail often arises during second and third DUIs and domestic violence charges. The rationale behind this is that the prosecution wants you in custody pending the case because you are considered a danger to society. If this is the case, it’s important to make pre-arrangements with a bail company. The likelihood of this happening on a first DUI is not very high, but for second DUIs, third DUIs, and domestic violence charges, there is a realistic chance that bail will be a consideration. If you are facing any of these charges, it’s important to make pre-arrangements with a bail bond company to bail you out if necessary. Alternatively, you may rely on the judge allowing you to do OR (own recognizance) release or self-help in lieu of bail. However, this is not guaranteed. A criminal defense lawyer at this stage will be able to assist with the bail issue, being familiar with the local courtroom and the judges’ habits and historical data on how they have denied or allowed bail in similar cases.

Reasons for Delay in Charges

There could be several reasons for delays in your case being filed, though the actual reason is often speculative. As for the workflow, it typically begins with the Police Department generating a police report from the arrest and forwarding it to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. This report will then sit in a pile until reviewed by a deputy District Attorney for the purpose of making a filing decision. Most of the time, the officer gets it right on the citation appearance date, but occasionally, an officer may miscalculate the citation appearance dates. If this happens, your name will not be on the television screen on the court date. You will then need to go to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office because your case was not on the calendar, and you will receive an appearance slip. The appearance slip on your arraignment date when your case is not on calendar will indicate that your case is still under investigation, no paperwork has been received on it, or it was sent back for further investigation.

No Charges Filed at Arraignment

When you receive a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ you’ll encounter documentation like the one shown on the left, explaining why your case isn’t on the calendar. Reason number one indicates that your paperwork hasn’t been received yet; number two signifies that your case remains under review; and number three suggests your case was returned for further investigation. Additionally, at the bottom of the page, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to monitor the progress of your case, including a phone number you’re advised to call every two to three weeks for updates on your situation.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

For misdemeanor cases, such as DUIs, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of arrest. Prosecutors have one year to file the case. If they do not file within the year and file after a year, they face a serious disadvantage and must justify the reasons for the delay. There is a presumption of prejudice if they go beyond this one-year date. The time frame for a misdemeanor case is one year, while for felony cases, it can be up to three years or more. It’s also important to note that there are exceptions to the statute of limitations.

The Importance of Legal Representation When receiving Your Notice of Complaint Filed

If you ignore the ‘notice of complaint filed’ or fail to understand its significance, you might find yourself in a complex legal situation. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek immediate assistance from a professional.If you receive this notice of complaint filed in the mail, it’s important that you know your options. The first step you should take is to talk with a criminal defense attorney and see if you have the funds to hire one. There are many benefits to hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. They will be able to represent you in court, obtain the police report, and question the evidence in your case. Even if your case seems open and shut, there’s still the issue of punishment and mitigation of aggravating circumstances. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side can mean the difference between going to jail and staying out of jail.

What exactly is a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ and what does it mean for my legal situation?

A ‘notice of complaint filed’ is the prosecutor’s way of letting you know there is a court case filed against you. This is useful for them because if a court asked them if they informed you, they can confirm that they sent you a notice. Despite that, if you are not present, they are justified in asking for a warrant for your arrest.

Are there immediate steps I should take upon receiving a ‘notice of complaint filed’?

Yes, there are immediate steps you should take when receiving a ‘notice of complaint filed.’ The first one is to check the charges and ensure they are correct. The second step is to decide whether or not you want to engage an attorney to assist with your case. If you do, you will want to contact the attorney immediately, giving them time to prepare to appear on your behalf.

How does the ‘notice of complaint filed’ affect the timeline of my case, especially regarding the arraignment?

The ‘notice of complaint filed’ does not affect the timeline of your case. In many instances, the notice of complaint will be sent to you 30 to 45 days before your arraignment date, giving you time to arrange your court appearance.

What are the potential consequences if I ignore the ‘notice of complaint filed’ or miss my court date?

The potential consequences of ignoring the ‘notice of complaint filed’ or missing your court date typically include a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. Depending on the charge, the bail amount will vary. For DUIs, you’re looking at $5,000, for second DUIs, $10,000, and for probation violations, $15,000. There are also different rates for domestic violence cases, which depend on whether the prosecutors are alleging a misdemeanor or a felony.

How can a criminal defense attorney assist me after I’ve received a ‘notice of complaint filed’?

A criminal defense attorney can help you by appearing on your behalf, denying the charges against you, and obtaining the police report. After receiving the report, they will review the case with you and search for additional evidence, which could be supplemental police reports, audio and video, or police dashcam footage. Moreover, the attorney will contest any aggravating circumstances the prosecutors are alleging and present mitigating evidence on your behalf during the penalty phase.

Are there specific considerations for cases like second or third DUIs or domestic violence charges in Orange County?

Yes, there are specific considerations for second and third DUIs and domestic violence cases in Orange County. These cases often involve bail considerations. What the ‘notice of complaint filed’ does not mention is that the bail issue will need to be discussed upon your appearance in court. The prosecutor may argue to hold you in custody to prevent you from being a danger to society. However, arranging bail is one way to secure your release. This needs to be addressed promptly if your case involves multiple DUIs or domestic violence.

How do bail considerations work in the context of a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ and when is it necessary to engage a bail bond company?

In scenarios where a person receives a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ bail considerations come into play particularly for charges like a second or third DUI or a domestic violence case. In these instances, the prosecutor typically requests the court to take the individual into custody for the duration of the case, making it necessary to engage a bail bond company promptly.

Can delays in the filing of my case affect its outcome or influence the statute of limitations?

Yes, delays in the filing of your case can result in prejudice against you, such as witnesses losing their recollection of events or evidence being destroyed. For example, blood samples in a DUI case are only retained by the crime lab for two years. Additionally, over time, witnesses may become reluctant to testify in court.”


In conclusion, confronting a ‘notice of complaint filed’ in Orange County necessitates immediate action and informed decision-making, underscoring the urgency of engaging a criminal defense attorney. Disregarding such a notice can swiftly spiral into a quagmire of legal predicaments, including bench warrants and possible detention. However, the involvement of a skilled attorney can dramatically alter this trajectory. With their expertise in dissecting police reports, formulating robust defense strategies, and adeptly maneuvering through the legal labyrinth, a criminal defense attorney is not just an option but a crucial necessity. This is particularly true for severe offenses like DUIs and domestic violence cases, where the legal terrain is fraught with complexities and the stakes are extraordinarily high. Thus, at the crossroads of legal prosecution, represented by a ‘notice of complaint filed,’ securing a seasoned criminal defense attorney is the decisive step that can profoundly influence the preservation of your rights, freedom, and future.

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