Steps in Filing Charges: How Does a District Attorney File Charges?

The law is constantly evolving and changing. Sometimes, it seems like nothing is the same anymore due to the passage of time. In order to stay current in the law, you need to understand how charges are filed.

Understanding the process for how does a district attorney files charges is critical for employment law and criminal law. If you are facing criminal charges, you need to know the process for how a district attorney files charges.

It is especially true if you have to appear in court. The blog will break down the different parts of filing charges.

In many countries, including the United States, district attorneys are law enforcement officials with a vital role in public safety and the judicial process.

These types of prosecutors determine whether or not someone is given a criminal charge and what kind of charge is issued.

Because of this, district attorneys are involved with individual and more significant criminal cases and law enforcement work.

In addition, a district attorney often handles cases that have connections to the judicial branch, such as non-jury trials, plea negotiations, and grand jury investigations. Let Us Explain!

How Does a District Attorney File Charges

How Does a District Attorney File Charges? (Discussed)

There are many kinds of cases that a district attorney can handle. A district attorney must decide what case they want to take on. Most cases fall into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic offences.

In general, felonies are more severe than misdemeanors, and a misdemeanor is more serious than a traffic offense. Some district attorneys handle a combination of both kinds of cases. For example, a district attorney might deal with both felonies and misdemeanors.

However, each type of case requires a specific charge. The charge will depend on the nature of the crime, the person who is charged, and the severity of the crime. Let’s explore who a District Attorney is.

District Attorney?

A district attorney is responsible for prosecuting crimes. In some states, a district attorney represents the state in criminal cases. In others, a district attorney represents cities and towns in criminal cases.

When there is a conflict of interest, a district attorney may have to represent the interests of two parties in court. In this situation, he will represent one party and prosecute the other. A district attorney is responsible for the following:

  • Argues on behalf of the state while bringing severe criminal charges
  • Collaborates with law enforcement officials to investigate crimes
  • Puts cases before the grand jury
  • The state’s representative in obtaining protection orders for victims of abuse and in removing children from abusive homes

Although the procedure might appear convoluted, filing a criminal case is not as difficult as one might believe. Below, we’ll describe the steps taken in a criminal case from the incident until the arraignment hearing.


A crime is a harmful act that violates the law. We don’t call it an act because it involves a person. Crimes usually involve a terrible act that someone commits. A person commits a crime when they do something that harms others.

When a crime is committed, the police are contacted. Police officers are public servants who enforce the law. The police will arrest the person who commits the crime. The police usually have probable cause to make the arrest.

They are legally authorized to make arrests if they know about a crime. The police can obtain a warrant from a judge or magistrate to search a place or an individual. When that occurs, the investigation can start.

The Crime Reporting

It will start after the police have made an arrest. The police will make an arrest based on what they know about the crime. The police will use their experience and skills to identify suspects. They will look for evidence that will lead to the suspect.

They will also look for witnesses who saw the crime happen. A police officer’s job is to enforce the law. Their duties include preventing crime, investigating crimes, and making arrests. They also have to serve warrants and search homes and businesses.

A police officer has to learn about the laws that govern the operation of the police force. They should be well-trained in the use of firearms. Officers should be able to handle situations involving domestic violence.


These are used to identify and arrest suspects who have committed a crime. Police officers can investigate any criminal act and determine whether it is serious enough to be reported to the authorities.

In addition, they can use a variety of tactics to catch criminals and put them behind bars. When a police officer makes an arrest, they will usually call for backup.

Backup officers will also be present to provide backup support. Police officers mustn’t get too close to suspects and should always act professionally.

Police officers will speak with the prosecutor in significant or complicated cases to seek direction and advice or to better understand what will be required to prosecute the case.

Is this enough? Comes up from time to time. A report is written both during and after the investigation. The prosecutor receives a copy of the police report.

Prosecutorial Review

The prosecutor receives the report when law enforcement determines the investigation is sufficiently finished.

That could be a district attorney, a city prosecutor, or a federal prosecutor, depending on the jurisdiction.

The prosecutor typically has a stack of the reports on his desk and has limited time to decide whether to file charges because he probably has upcoming court appearances to prepare for.

The district attorney swiftly decides whether to “no-file” the case or investigate it carefully to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case after reviewing the police report and the evidence (such as a videotape of the incident). Specific scenarios are simple to “no-file.” A prosecutor is not likely to file, for instance:

  • The prosecution is not in the best interests of the victim or community,
  • There was no crime committed,
  • The evidence gathered by law enforcement is insufficient to support a conviction (beyond a reasonable doubt),
  • And other elements of the case cannot be established (like the date of the crime, the location of the crime, or the identity of the potential defendant)

The prosecutor can focus on cases where it is likely enough evidence to proceed after the “no-filed” reports have been set aside (or given to support staff). The prosecutor is responsible for proceeding in good faith while weighing the costs of prosecuting the defendant on society and justice.

The prosecutor only files cases he believes he can win at trial, which is one of the reasons prosecutors are more successful in winning convictions than defendant attorneys are in gaining dismissals or acquittals.

He examines the case evidence, and if, as it stands immediately, it would produce a jury verdict beyond a reasonable doubt and filing the case makes sense (good faith, justice, community), he will do so.

To get the prosecutor to the point where he felt there was sufficient evidence for a guilty jury judgment, cases are occasionally brought back to law enforcement for additional investigation into a particular area.

Preparing The Charging Instrument

A physical document containing the charges against the defendant must be prepared after the prosecutor decides to charge the case.

The district attorney or his staff may have prepared this. The official document lists the defendant’s identity and the charges brought against them. The official document may use an “Information” or “Complaint” if the alleged crime is a misdemeanor.

The formal record may eventually be called an “Indictment” if the accused crime is a felony. In general, the written charges outline the components of the case that the prosecution wants to prove at trial—namely, that the defendant committed a specific crime on a certain date and in a specified mental state.

The district attorney in charge of the case signs the draught charging instrument after it is finished.

The paper is then delivered to the clerk, who stamps it and inputs the data into the court’s computer system. The prosecutor uploads a copy of the scanned PDF document to the electronic filing system, and in some courts, the filing and stamping are now done entirely online.

Information vs. Indictment

The additional step of bringing the matter before a Grand Jury is necessary if the prosecution intends to press felony charges. A grand jury decides whether or not to continue the case after reviewing the evidence that the prosecutor intends to submit to the jury at trial.

If the grand jury determines there is sufficient evidence, it will approve the indictment so it can be submitted to the court.

If not, the prosecutor may press misdemeanor charges or drop them completely.

Additional Steps

The prosecutor will take the required action after the case has been filed to ensure that the defendant will appear at the case’s initial hearing.

Final Remarks About How Does a District Attorney File Charges.

We hope you enjoyed our blog post about how does a district attorney files charges. It is a great place to start if you are a new attorney and want to know the basics of how a DA files charges.

We are here to tell you that it is easier than you think! Don’t get overwhelmed by the more complicated aspects of the process; focus on your role in the process. Thank you for reading, and we hope you found our information to be helpful!

I have over 10 years of experience as a lawyer. I have worked in a variety of legal fields such as family law, criminal law, and corporate law. I am a highly skilled lawyer who is able to provide my clients with excellent legal advice and representation. I am also a talented writer, and I have written several articles on legal issues that have been published in various online and offline publications.

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