Q. What types of cases does the District Attorney's Office handle?
A. The District Attorney and his assistant district attorneys prosecute criminal actions that occur within the District.
Q. Can the District Attorney represent me or give me legal advice?
A. No. Oklahoma law tells what the duties of the district attorney and his assistants are. The law does not allow the D.A. or assistants to give legal advice or representation in legal matters. If you have a legal question regarding a situation such as a divorce, probate, or a property or contract dispute, the D.A. is unable to assist you.
Q. If I have been the victim of a crime, who should I report it to?
A. A person who is the victim of a crime should always report the crime to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as possible. If the crime did not occur in a town or city that has a police department, it should be reported to the sheriff of the county where the crime occurred. If the crime occurred in a city or town that has a police department, the crime should be reported to the police department.
Q. After I have reported a crime to the appropriate law enforcement agency, what happens next?
A. If the investigating officer (from sheriff’s office or police department) believes there is enough evidence to make an arrest, the suspect may be arrested by the investigator. If an arrest is not made, the investigator may bring the investigative reports to the District Attorney’s office and an assistant district attorney will determine whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges against the suspect.
Q. Why doesn't the District Attorney's office file criminal charges against every person that is suspected of a crime?
A. The law states that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In some instances, even though there may be enough evidence to make an arrest, there may not be enough evidence to prove a person’s guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. On each case the District Attorney and his assistants must decide whether there is enough evidence to meet this burden. The decision is based on the amount and strength of the evidence.
Q. Why are people who commit crimes while they are out of jail on bond, released on bond again after re-offending?
A. The Oklahoma and United States Constitutions give protection against “excessive” bail. It is a rare occasion when a judge may order a defendant to be held in custody without the opportunity to be released on bond. Oklahoma law allows a judge to hold a defendant without bond in capital cases. In limited other cases a defendant may be held without bond when proof of his guilt is evident and on the grounds that no condition of release would assure the safety of the community or any person.
Q. I did not want to file charges. Why did the District Attorney file charges?
A. In criminal cases the District Attorney and his assistants decide whether or not charges will be filed. If the evidence supports the filing of a charge, the charge may be filed even if the victim does not want to. The State of Oklahoma, through the District Attorney, prosecutes the case, not the victim.
Q. Why does it take so long for my case to be resolved?
A. The American justice system is set up with a number of procedural safeguards. These safeguards include a defendant’s right to trial and the right of a defendant to confront his or her accuser. Since a defendant has a right to confront the witnesses against him, when a witness is unable to attend a trial or hearing the trial must be rescheduled. This is a fairly frequent occurrence. Additionally, there are a limited number of weeks each year (as few as 4 and as many as 6 weeks) during which jurors are available to serve. It is only during these times that a case may go to jury trial.