We are going to provide a brief description of how felony charges are filed
in Phoenix and Maricopa County. Misdemeanor cases are handled by municipal
juvenile cases are handled by the juvenile court system.
Unless a crime was committed in the presence of law enforcement, the criminal
process begins when someone reports a crime to a local law enforcement
agency, such as the
Phoenix Police Department (PhxPD) or the
Tempe Police Department. Once a crime is reported to one of these agencies, a patrol officer is
dispatched to investigate.
Once a parole officer arrives on the scene, the following occurs:
- First, the officer assists anyone who is injured
- The officer interviews any victims
- The officer interviews any witnesses
- The officer writes a report about the crime
If it was a
violent crime, especially a homicide, crime scene investigators may be called in to
take photographs, dust for fingerprints, collect ballistic or biological
evidence, and any other potential evidence from the crime scene.
If it’s a homicide case or a fatal car accident, the Deputy County
Attorney may even come to the crime scene and help the officers with any
legal aspects of the investigation.
If the police on the scene have sufficient evidence that a suspect committed
a crime, for example, in a domestic violence case, or a fatal
DUI accident, they may arrest the suspect on the spot.
When a Suspect is Not Immediately Arrested
Often, the police are called to a crime scene after the offender has fled
and is long gone. In these situations, the patrol officer will forward
their report to detectives at the law enforcement agency so they can investigate
From there, the detectives may:
- Contact witnesses
- Search for additional physical evidence
- If there was stolen property, get more information about it
Once the detectives complete their investigation and they have probable
cause, an arrest may be sought. Or, the detectives may go to the County
Attorney’s Office and submit their findings with the prosecutor
so he or she can review them.
If the prosecutor doesn’t believe there’s a strong case, they
may send it back to the detectives, informing them that there’s
insufficient evidence to press charges. The prosecutor may decline to
prosecute (no file), or they may tell them that they need to gather additional evidence.
On the other hand, if the prosecutor does think there is enough evidence
of a crime, and that they’ll win at trial, he or she will file formal
Are you the target of a pre-file investigation in Phoenix or Tempe? If so,
contact the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC for a