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The following is a brief description of the process to prosecute an adult accused of committing a felony offense.
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Both of these methods constitute a formal filing of criminal charges.
When a suspect is arrested either at the scene of the crime or as a result of an arrest warrant, he or she is taken to jail and “booked,” or registered in the criminal justice system as having committed a specific offense.
Within twenty-four hours of the booking, the defendant must be taken before a Judge or Commissioner for an Initial Appearance (IA).
Police Detectives and crime scene investigators may also respond if there is a need to take special photographs of the scene or the victim, record possible fingerprints, or gather additional evidence.
In certain felony cases, such as homicides or vehicular collisions involving serious injuries or death, a Deputy County Attorney may come to the crime scene to assist officers with legal issues in the investigation.
If police believe that a suspect has been identified and that there is sufficient evidence that the suspect has committed a crime (a finding known as “probable cause”), the suspect may be arrested immediately.
If suspects are not arrested at the scene, the patrol officer’s incident report may be channeled to detectives within the law enforcement agency for further investigation.
Detectives may contact witnesses for formal statements, may obtain additional physical evidence as well as descriptions of suspects or stolen property.
Once their investigation is complete, law enforcement officers may either arrest a suspect if they believe there is sufficient probable cause, or submit their findings to the County Attorney’s Office for review by a prosecutor.