The District Attorney’s Office first becomes involved in a criminal action on the day after a person is arrested for a felony crime or when the police refer a case to the DA’s office for a filing decision on felony charges.
District Attorney's Office - District Court Division
Charging & Investigations
The day after a person is arrested or when the police refer a case to our office, investigators gather all police reports and witness statements concerning the crime, run computerized criminal histories and determine if the police agencies need to do further investigation. This information is provided to the charging Deputy District Attorneys who decide if the information provided constitutes a violation of the criminal laws. If the filing deputies believe that a felony crime has been committed by the suspect, the case is filed in court, and a Deputy District Attorney is assigned to prosecute the case.
Certain cases are primarily assigned to prosecutors who have areas of specialization. The current areas of specialization are:
- Sexual Offenses
- Offenses involving fraud or embezzlement (Economic Crime)
- Major drug trafficking cases.
The prosecution of a case may include plea negotiations that can lead to a plea agreement, wherein the defendant enters a plea of guilty to a particular charge or charges. The deputy has an opportunity to recommend both a type of sentence and terms and conditions of the sentence to the judge.
The person ultimately responsible for the sentencing of a defendant who has pled guilty or been convicted at trial is the judge presiding over the case. Unless limited by a plea agreement, the judge has broad discretion in the range of sentences that may be imposed on a defendant.
The court may send a defendant to prison or to a community half-way house. If sent to a half-way house, the court may grant probation with terms or conditions that must be followed as a condition of the probation.
If a defendant fails to follow the sentencing orders of the court, he or she will be brought back in front of the judge for a hearing in order to determine if the defendant did fail to comply with the orders.
If the judge finds that the defendant violated the orders, they can be re-sentenced and new conditions may be imposed.