If you had interaction with law enforcement in the past year or so, it’s possible that the officer’s reports, which were forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office, are now being reviewed. To the surprise of many, law enforcement does not determine whether you will be charged with a crime. An officer may arrest you for suspicion of a crime but only a prosecutor can decide to bring charges against you in a court of law.
But it’s been almost a year since I was stopped by law enforcement!
With the “down time” from covid-19, many prosecutor’s offices are using this courtroom break to get through the stacks of reports that were forwarded by law enforcement over the past year. Most prosecutors are so busy that this is a task that sits on the back burner. Unless the report involves immediate harm to citizens, it’s possible that the “back burner” stack will sit indefinitely until a prosecutor finally “declines” charges. That is when the person who was arrested or investigated can breathe a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, there are likely going to be fewer sighs of relief. The backlog of reports are being reviewed daily. We have heard from certain prosecutors that they have been charging dozens if not hundreds of cases right now. This means hundreds of people will be receiving Summons in the mail soon!
How will I know if I’ve been charged with a crime?
If you had contact with law enforcement in the last year or believe you were being investigated for any reason, make sure that your address is up to date with the Department of Licensing. The clerk’s office will use that address to mail you the Summons. If you do not receive it and fail to appear for court, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. If you avoid dealing with the criminal charge, more trouble is sure to follow. You could be stopped for a traffic offense and, if the officer realizes there is a warrant for your arrest, you may be arrested right on the side of the road. So, create more certainty with your legal problem and put yourself in a better position to negotiate your case by following the rules.
Make sure your mailing address is correct. If you are unsure as to whether you are going to be charged with a crime, contact our office. We will monitor your situation for you. Avoid a warrant issued or an unexpected arrest. For any questions, give our office a call.