When No Charges are Filed at Arraignment it could mean several scenarios. . It doesn’t mean that you will be free of criminal charges. The law enforcement agency may not have sent over the paperwork to the prosecutors yet; this results in a delay of filing. It could also mean the documents have been sent over, but the prosecutor has not reviewed it yet because of priority resulting in a delay in filing. It could just mean the arrest report was lost by the investigator for your case or misplaced by the office clerk resulting in your case not being on the calendar on the day it is scheduled. Thus opening up some legal options to take advantage of a speedy trial and clear your arrest. We will go over each scenario in more detail below. You can also skip to my tools and resource page to get access to the court’s website and phone numbers for the local courts and district attorney’s to check on your case. Whatever happens, it’s an opportunity (which we will explain below), and important to keep an eye out on your case.
It could mean that the police agency has not sent the case to the district attorney for filing yet.
When you have a case that is not filed, it can mean that the police agency has not sent the case over yet. Some police agencies are slow to send over reports to the district attorney’s office for review. For example, local police stations are usually slower to send out their reports for district attorneys than CHP are because their attention is more spread out.
The police report filed but no charges (under review)
It can also mean that the district attorney who is the prosecuting agency has not gotten around to reviewing the file and recommending to prosecute it or has not prioritized it. Depending on the circumstances, the case can be cut in front of the line and expedited if it is a violent crime or felony charges because of concerns of public safety, or it may mean the case is weak. The filing deputy will want another pair of eyes on it to make sure there is sufficient evidence to make their case.
Other factors that come into play when a DA is making a filing decision are the accused criminal history, the amount of admissible evidence, the quality of the report from the police officer, and whether the alleged criminal act can have a reasonable explanation if they decide to move forward then they will draft a formal complaint listing out charges and date of time along with jurisdiction.
When this happens, it is important to know that they may take more time to review a case. What may happen is that they may be a few weeks behind on their schedule (date from citation). However, it is normal to see some offices fall back in months. This is a good opportunity to consult with a criminal defense attorney if you haven’t already.
It could mean the prosecuting agency has decided not to pursue the case or the paperwork was just lost.
The best scenario and one you want is for the district attorney to reject the case and send it back for further investigation. This is not an exception. These usually happen with cases with low blood alcohol content and domestic violence cases. It can also mean that the police or DA lost the paperwork.
Law enforcement has to make decisions out in the field and do not have the ability of 20/20 hindsight. Police officers will decide to arrest on a weak domestic violence charge to prevent any outcome of future violence. In other words they it as an opportunity to calm things down and let the system play itself out.
In low bac DUI cases, the prosecutor may come to a conclusion that a guilty plea is not ethical under the state of the evidence. Or the charges will only result in a plea deal or a long, uncertain jury trial. Many defense attorneys will use this as an opportunity to run up expenses and state resources. There are pre-trial proceedings, the investigation state, and subpoenaed documents to chase around. This is not worth it for misdemeanor offenses when the maximum punishment is 6 months, and the case will end up getting infracted anyway. This results in a filing decision of no formal charge and resources being spent on different types of crimes: IE violent crimes or something affecting public safety.
The prosecuting agency will deal with thousands of cases. It is not unusual for paperwork to go missing. When this happens, it will fall someplace and never be found again.
There is a time limit or statute of limitation for every type of crime. Of case except for murder. This means the state must file criminal charges against you; otherwise it will violate your constitutional rights.
If this was the case, then you will want to move forward with an 851.91 motion to seal your criminal record after the statute of limitation has run. . If you had a domestic violence case and had to use the services of a bail bond and defense attorney, then you will not be able to get your premium back.
How it Affects Orange County, California.
A lot of the courts in Orange County are impacted by a high volume of cases. This means the volume of work for the prosecuting agency is more than they can handle, thus resulting in delays of formal complaints. Newport Beach has this problem, and they are about 6 months behind on filing. Westminster Court also has this problem, and they are 2 to 3 months behind on filing.
Central Santa Ana also has this problem, and they are also a few months behind on filing for their 1st DUI. Fullerton is not behind, and they are on top of their filings. Long Beach also has this problem, and they may not send a letter out to you to give you your court date.
What Do I have to Do Now?
It is your or your criminal defense attorney’s responsibility to watch the courts for your date. It is a common practice among attorneys to call the prosecuting clerk every 2 weeks to check on the status of the case and to have our client watch their mailbox in your mailbox over this period of time. If you are in Orange County, then you can call the district attorney’s office to check the status and see the case has been scheduled.
If you have not already done so, then this is also an opportunity to acquire the services of a criminal defense attorney if you have not yet done so. During this period of time, they will be able to check the status of the case for you and prevent any arrest warrants from happening because of a missed court date. If a case is filed within the statute of limitations or time limit then they will go to court for you. If not, then they can work on clearing the arrest from your criminal record. The result will be the same as a dismissal without having to put up with the expenses and risk of high penalties of going to a jury trial.
Our office regularly handle these types of cases. The phone numbers of all the district attorneys’ office in Orange County can be found here. You only need some basic information. The information you will need is your name and your date of birth. They will look it up on their computer and tell you whether the paperwork is still with the police agency, it is under review, or sent back to the police agency. It is important to be diligent and keep calling the agency and watch the mailbox. You can also keep an eye out on the court’s website at occcourts.org. However, the downside to checking online is that they will only say the case was not filed and it will not tell you when the date is scheduled for.