Crime Charges Process

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Report the Crime

The first thing that you must do is report the crime to the police department or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Cleburne, it should be reported to the Cleburne Police Department. If the crime was committed in any unincorporated area of Johnson County, the crime should be reported to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Crime is Investigated

It is the duty and the responsibility of the law enforcement agency to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each crime that is reported to them. This investigation may include interviewing and obtaining written statements from victims and witnesses, collecting physical evidence, photographing the victim and/or the crime scene, identifying suspects through photo line-ups, and interviewing and obtaining written statements from suspects.

Suspect is Arrested

A law enforcement officer may arrest a person without a warrant for any offense that is committed in his presence or within his view. If the offense is not committed in his presence or within his view, then the officer must ask for a warrant from a magistrate before he can arrest the person. Once the suspect has been arrested and the investigation is complete, the law enforcement agency may present the criminal case to the County Attorney’s Office for consideration of prosecution.

Review by Prosecuting Attorney

The Prosecuting Attorney must thoroughly review all reports and records concerning the case, including victim and witness statements. The Prosecutor also reviews the suspect's prior criminal or traffic record. The Prosecutor can charge the suspect with a criminal offense if he reasonably believes that probable cause exists that the suspect committed the offense, but most Prosecuting Attorneys apply a higher standard -- whether he reasonably believes that he can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt at trial with the information known at that time. Occasionally, the reviewing Prosecutor sends the case back to the police to conduct additional investigation.

Charging the Suspect

If the case is accepted for prosecution, the County Attorney’s Office will file the documents required by law with the County Clerks Office. The County Clerks Office will then assign the case to one of the two County Courts at Law. If the case is rejected for prosecution, the County Attorney’s Office will notify the law enforcement agency.

Dismissal or Dropping Charges

The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by a Prosecutor with the approval of a Judge. The victim's wishes alone will not dictate whether or not a case will be dismissed.