Between an arrest and a theft trial are actions that will influence or even decide the outcome of the case.
From law enforcement officers to grand jurors, quite a few people may take part in the process.
The police report
According to the California Courts, law enforcement must create a report regarding the details of the arrest, including the events that led up to it. The report includes the name of the person under arrest and the alleged victims, the type of offense, the location, potential witnesses and the time of the arrest, among other facts.
The prosecutor’s options
After reviewing the report, the prosecutor has the authority to decide what to do with the case. He or she could decide whether or not to press charges, which charges to file and whether to make them felony or misdemeanor charges.
FindLaw explains that the prosecutor’s influences could involve:
- Personal prejudices or biases
- District policies regarding which offenses should result in charges
- Political motivations
The third option involves taking the evidence to the grand jury and allowing the jury members to decide whether there is enough evidence to indict the person under arrest.
The grand jury’s verdict
The county’s grand jury does not decide the outcome of the case. The jurors simply evaluate the evidence and determine whether it is enough to warrant a trial. The prosecutor and the alleged offender do not attend the proceedings, and the public may not attend, either. The grand jury has the authority to issue an indictment, but even if it does not, the prosecutor could still file charges.
The judge’s decision
With an indictment, the prosecutor does not need a preliminary hearing to file charges, but without one, he or she must go before the judge to show that there is enough evidence to file charges. The defendant may provide evidence in his or her defense at the preliminary hearing.