Criminal Charges and Parties to Crimes

All felonies in California are prosecuted by the filing of an indictment or an information. An information is filed by the District Attorney only after a preliminary examination of the case against the defendant. The District Attorney brings the charges in the name of the people of the State of California.

What does an Information contain?

An Information contains the criminal charges against the defendant. It mentions the offense or offenses that the accused has allegedly committed. It mentions where and when the offenses were allegedly committed. It also describes the manner the offenses were allegedly committed. It contains the name or names of the victims of the offense.

What is the basis of the District Attorney for filing a criminal information?

The District Attorney bases the information on a written verified complaint made before the Magistrate and other objects or documentary evidence.

How are misdemeanors prosecuted?

The prosecution of misdemeanors begins with the issuance of a police officer of a citation. The citation states the violation or misdemeanor committed and the identity of the violator. The violator to whom the citation is issued must sign a written promise to appear in court. He will not be taken into custody or arrested, but signing the citation means promising to appear in court.

When are people arrested for the commission of a misdemeanor?

The police officers who arrest people who have committed misdemeanors will release them after they sign a notice to appear in court except when:

  • They are intoxicated and are a danger to themselves or to others.
  • They require medical care or medical examination as they are unable to care for themselves.
  • There are one or more outstanding warrants of arrest for them.
  • They cannot provide satisfactory evidence of their identity.
  • Their prosecution will be jeopardized if they are released.

What happens when a person who is charged with a misdemeanor fails to appear in court?

The person who is charged with a misdemeanor is guilty of another misdemeanor. It is a misdemeanor to fail or refuse to appear and violates the written promise to appear before the court.

Against whom are criminal charges brought?

Criminal charges are brought against all persons who commit a crime within the state of California. All persons who commit an offense such as carjacking, robbery or embezzlement outside California but bring the stolen property within California.

Persons outside California who cause or aid, advise or encourage another person to commit a crime in California and are afterwards found within the state will also be prosecuted.