What It Means To Be Charged With A Crime

26 November 2019
 Categories: Law, Blog


If you've heard that a loved one has been arrested, charges will follow. The way charges happen depends on the circumstances and there is more than one way to be charged. Interestingly enough, you can also be charged but not be arrested. To find out more about the various ways to be charged with a crime and how they could affect your loved one, read on.

Charged With a Citation

Did you know that when you are issued a traffic citation, you are actually being charged? While most citations cover minor traffic offenses, you can eventually be taken into custody if you fail to take action and appear in court or pay the ticket — even for speeding or parking tickets. When it comes to traffic and minor drug offenses, the ticket or summons you are given at the scene is a charging document. This document holds all the necessary elements of such a document — the facts as alleged by law enforcement along with details about the circumstances. It's worth mentioning that some traffic violations are more serious in nature and arrests do occur. Crimes like driving under the influence, reckless driving, and vehicular homicide may require an arrest. If so, the charging document is prepared later on at the police station using a fill-in-the-blank type of form the officer completes.

Charged Using a Complaint

Law enforcement personnel arrest many at the scene of a crime, but some arrests follow weeks of investigations. Detectives often pursue evidence on cases for some time before they are ready to make an arrest. When enough evidence of a crime has been assembled, a criminal complaint or arrest affidavit is prepared by the local state prosecutor's office and an arrest warrant is issued. For example, undercover drug surveillance may have turned up enough evidence to make an arrest at the home of a drug dealer, so an arrest warrant is prepared.

Grand Jury Indictments

One final way to be charged with a crime is by a grand jury. Many serious felony cases must pass through the hands of a panel of citizens before the defendant can be officially charged. Almost all grand jury cases deal with felony-level offenses like murder, rape, and kidnapping. A grand jury action is nothing like a courtroom action since only the prosecutor is allowed to present a case before the panel. Though rare, a grand jury may not find the evidence compelling enough to indict a defendant, resulting in a so-called "no bill".

To find out more about the charges your loved one is facing, speak to a criminal defense lawyer at a firm like The Rambarran Law Firm.