After criminal activity is brought to the attention of law enforcement, the officer(s) will either issue a citation immediately, depending on the level and type of offense, or submit investigative material to the County Attorney’s Office for a prosecutor to make a charging decision. The suspect, again, depending on what the crime is and level of offense, may be brought into custody immediately. The assigned prosecutor will carefully review the investigative material provided by law enforcement.
If the prosecutor feels there is enough evidence to charge a crime or crimes, then a Criminal Complaint will be drafted. When a Criminal Complaint is issued by the County Attorney’s Office and signed by a judge, the defendant will be scheduled to appear in court.
Each case is different and the number of hearings necessary can vary. In misdemeanor cases, the defendant oftentimes pleads guilty during the first appearance, but multiple hearings could also be scheduled. With gross misdemeanor and felony cases there could be numerous hearings as well. This can be a time consuming process depending on many factors. Every case has the potential to go to trial, but most cases are settled by way of plea agreement. Victim rights can be exercised throughout the court process. Please contact the Crime Victim Coordinator for more information. Victims are welcome to attend hearings, but are not required to unless they have been subpoenaed. Victims are usually only subpoenaed when a case is scheduled to go to trial.
A more detailed explanation of the types of court hearings will be coming soon.