State Attorney, 2nd Judicial Circuit
INITIATING A CRIMINAL CASE
If you have been the victim of a crime or believe that a crime has been committed, you should first contact a law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the city or county where the physical acts of the crime occurred. A law enforcement agency such as a police department or sheriff's office will investigate your complaint. If they are able to obtain legally sufficient admissible evidence they will make an arrest. If the perpetrator cannot be readily located within their jurisdiction they may apply to a judge to have an arrest warrant issued and sent to the area where the offender is located or entered into law enforcement computer databases nationwide.
After the defendant is arrested the criminal case is submitted to the State Attorney's Office for an intake review to confirm that there is sufficient facts to prove a violation of a charged crime or crimes and that the necessary evidence including witnesses will be available for trial. This may involve discussing the facts and merits of the case with the victim, family members, or other complainant. Prosecution must be declined in some cases due to legal reasons such as insufficient proof. Some cases my be dropped upon the request of a victim who provides a valid reason such as restitution being received or no personal injury.
Cases meeting legal standards for prosecution are then activated by the Assistant State Attorney filing a document called an "Information" specifying the data and which statutes were violated. Cases of first-degree murder must be reviewed by the county Grand Jury who may file an "Indictment" to formalize the charge. After an Information or Indictment is filed, an arraignment will be scheduled and various other court proceedings take place such as status conferences called case management hearings, motions, plea or trial. Victims are notified of all hearings which they may wish to attend or not. Victims and other witnesses will be specifically notified by service of a subpoena for those hearings where their presence is mandatory to be available to testify as needed. The State Attorney's Office has a Victim Assistance Unit with counselors available in all counties to assist victims and their families throughout the various criminal court processes.
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