The DA plays a crucial role in the Texas county courts, as he/she is responsible for prosecuting those accused of an alleged offense. One of the main questions that's always on suspects' minds is how long they have to wait before the DA files charges against them. We understand this; playing the waiting game can be extremely overwhelming and stressful.
Another hard pill to swallow is the fact that the DA is not your friend, and they're not on your side. After all, they work for the state, and their job is to get sufficient evidence to result in a conviction. This is why it's crucial to understand who the DA is, how long they have to file charges, and what process they follow. Sparks Law Firm can also provide more information to questions like, " What is the entrapment law in Texas?"
Who Is the DA?
DA stands for District Attorney. The district attorney is a professional that represents the government or state during criminal cases. In the state of Texas, DAs are elected officials, and each county has its own district attorney that is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases.
Overall, the district attorney's office has the following responsibilities:
Investigation of offenses
Determining whether or not to file charges against suspects
However, district attorneys are also capable of handling a wide range of other tasks, such as presenting cases in court, plea bargains, and criminal case appeals.
How Long Does the DA Have to File Charges in Texas?
The period of time a district attorney has to file criminal charges in Texas differs depending on the severity of the offense. A few time limits for various criminal offenses in Texas are:
Misdemeanor charges - 2 years
Felonies - 3 years unless stated otherwise
Injury to children - 10 years from the victim's 18th birthday
Aggravated kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual offense - 20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim (If the victim was 17 at the time of the offense.)
Sexual performance by a child - 20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim (If the victim was 17 at the time of the offense.)
Abandoning or endangering children - 5 years
Insurance fraud - 5 years
Injury to the disabled or elderly - 5 years
Kidnapping - 5 years in general
Burglary - 5 years generally
Theft - 5 years
Robbery - 5 years
Medicaid fraud - 7 years
Bigamy - 7 years generally
Money laundering - 7 years
Credit or debit card abuse - 7 years
False statement to obtain credit - 7 years
Misapplication of fiduciary property - 7 years
Felony violation of Tax Code Chapter 162 - 7 years
Securing fiduciary property by deception - 7 years
Trafficking of persons - 10 years
Compelling prostitution - 10 years
Sexual assault - 10 years
Arson - 10 years
First-degree injury to the disabled or elderly - 10 years
Theft by a trustee - 10 years
Theft by a public servant of government property - 10 years
Forgery - 10 years
Murder - None
Manslaughter - None
Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault - None
Serial or continuous sexual assault - None
Indecency with a child - None
Continuous trafficking - None
Trafficking of children - None
Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death - None
Compelling prostitution - None
However, it's important to note that there may be several exceptions or additional factors that impact these time limits.
What Is the Process for the DA Charging Suspects with a Crime?
What happens after an individual has been suspected or accused of committing a crime? Below we'll discuss the various stages of the process the DA will follow when filing charges:
1. Arrest and Police Report
While an arrest will take place most of the time, it's important to note that not all crimes result in one, such as receiving a parking ticket. However, when dealing with many serious criminal offenses, the police will arrest the suspect.
Once an arrest has taken place, a police report needs to be filed by the respective law enforcement agency. The police report is a crucial form of evidence in any criminal procedure. Furthermore, the prosecutor will use this report to determine whether or not to file charges or refer the matter to the Grand Jury.
This report includes essential information, such as why the arrest was made and any other important details surrounding the offense, witnesses, the location and nature of the crime, and more.
2. The Decision to Prosecute
Next, the DA will consider a number of factors before deciding whether to file charges or not, such as:
Policies: Each DA develops their own policies regarding which cases to file charges against.
Use of resources: The district attorney's office has a set amount of resources to take on cases. Therefore, they need to determine which cases are a good use of these resources.
Beliefs: It can be difficult to separate emotion from the law at times. As a result, a prosecutor might have strong personal beliefs about a specific type of crime and take these into account when filing charges.
If the DA decides to pursue the case, they generally file charges within a few days, which is well before the statute of limitations.
3. Grand Jury Indictment
If the DA is uncertain about whether to press charges, they often take the matter to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury will then examine the evidence brought forward by the DA and determine whether charges need to be filed.
4. Preliminary Hearing
There are times when the prosecutor will file for a preliminary hearing. During this hearing, the judge will listen to the evidence presented by the DA and determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence for a trial. The DA usually has just a matter of days to file for a preliminary hearing.
5. Criminal Charges
If the matter in question relates to a criminal case, it's best to refer it to a knowledgeable and experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney. These professionals are well-versed in criminal law as well as the criminal statute of limitations and can give clients expert legal representation, support, and protection.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
The criminal defense attorneys at Sparks Law Firm, located in Ft. Worth, Texas, have been defending suspects for years and have the necessary experience when it comes to navigating the criminal justice system. They can advise on other questions like, "What is the insanity defense in Texas?"
We fight aggressively for our clients to ensure their rights are upheld and that any charges filed against them are dismissed. Contact us today for a free consultation.