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How long does it take DA to file charges after police take report on petty theft?

Orange, CA |

It's been over 3 weeks for an incident at local store ... clerk claims I didn't pay for a $10 item, and I said I did. Have an account at the store. That afternoon, a policeman came to my home to take a report; and, evidently, they contacted my neighbor that evening as well - but my neighbor did talk with me later as we're on very good terms. I've got an attorney waiting in the wings to assist if needed but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with how long it takes the DA to file charges after receiving the police report? It's a long shot, but maybe after looking at the video, etc. the DA will decide not to file for lack of evidence but I imagine that's doubtful. Also wondering, as a courtesy, if the DA will inform me with any decision either way on this?

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Three weeks isn't a long time in this instance. Because they were investigating and didn't make an arrest that day, the case will be written up and submitted to the DA. The Orange County DA is notoriously backlogged, so it may take them a month or so from when the report is submitted for them to get to it.

Because it's a misdemeanor, if they decide to file charges, they will typically send a letter to the address listed in the police report notifying you of charges being filed and a date to appear.

No, they don't send you notice if no charges are filed.

If you've retained an attorney, their office should be keeping up with the status of your case.

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Asker

Posted

Thanks for the reply ... haven't hired an attorney yet and was debating whether to hire before charges are filed, or wait for the 'bad news' letter.

Asker

Posted

Can an attorney make a difference before charges are filed (contemplating going this route)? I would think that if an attorney starts discussions with the DA before charges are filed that there might be an implied cloak of 'guilty'?

Joseph Briscoe Dane

Joseph Briscoe Dane

Posted

The DA typically won't discuss misdemeanor cases before any filing decision is made. Getting a lawyer doesn't send any message other than you're protecting your rights and getting representation.

Asker

Posted

ok ... thanks

Posted

In addition to the comments above, make sure that your address on file with the DMV is your correct mailing address because that is the address that the letter will be sent and you don't want to miss receiving that letter and in turn miss a court date and have a warrant issued for your arrest. Feel free to call with additional questions.

Matthew Cohen
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman
(310) 557-1700

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Can an attorney make a difference before charges are filed (contemplating going this route)? I would think that if an attorney starts discussions with the DA before charges are filed that there might be an implied cloak of 'guilty'?

Matthew Jeremy Cohen

Matthew Jeremy Cohen

Posted

Yes and No. On a murder case, rape case or other felony type charges most definitely. The DA won't even know you exist until the morning of your first court date. There are definitely times an attorney can make a difference pre-filing. This is not one of them.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the heads up ... will wait, then, for the letter.

Posted

I don't want to deprive anyone of business but I would not hire a lawyer myself unless he can get the DA not to file charges (called a pre-file) or untilI am actually charged.

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Posted

Thanks ... I'm going to wait for a notice, and hire an attorney. I know it's a long-shot but hoping the DA won't file. But it/when I get a letter for case, I'm going to hire an attorney - figure this is the only way to get the best outcome (hopefully dismissed or reduced).

Posted

The prosecuting agency (DA or CA) on a first time petty theft case (misdemeanor) has up to a year to file charges. Your attorney, whose waiting in the wings, should be pro-actively advocating on your behalf by contacting the DA or CA and trying to resolve the matter short of a criminal filing. It is much more difficult getting a case dismissed after youve been charged than getting a case to not be filed.

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Posted

They have a year to file on a misdemeanor

Any answer to questions is not meant to be con screwed as legal advise and no attorney client relationship has formed. In order for an attorney to give legal advise, The attorney would need to have an opportunity to ask specific questions from a full and complete disclosure of the underlying facts involved in the question asked.

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