The Criminal Charge Process

Perhaps your entire knowledge of the criminal process comes from television courtroom dramas and you’re wondering what really goes on in real life when it comes to the criminal charge process. Or, perhaps you’ve just been charged and want to know what lies ahead. Either way, you deserve to know the typical criminal charge process in the US.


After an arrest is made, a police officer will fill out an arrest report describing the time, date, location, and other details of the arrest. The arrest report is then submitted to the prosecutor who will decide what criminal charges (if any) should be pursued.


Criminal charges will be filed within 48-72 hours of the arrest, depending on the jurisdiction. The type of charge a prosecutor decides to go with depends on a few things: community policies on certain crimes, their own political beliefs, and justice required of the situation. If the prosecutor decides on a felony charge, a grand jury will be involved in deciding whether the charges are adequate.

Grand Jury

Grand juries are not the same as the juries in trials, called petit juries. While petit juries determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty, grand juries will determine if there is enough evidence to allow for a trial. In general, grand juries are made up of larger groups of people and can sit on a case for up to a year and a half. They also do not have to be unanimous in their decision like petit juries do.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal act, it’s imperative to get legal representation as soon as possible. Contact the Austin criminal defense lawyers today at Carroll Troberman, PLLC for a consultation.