A person wanting to file a criminal charge in Tarrant County must contact the local police agency where the crime occurred. After an officer investigates the matter and determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the officer seeks an arrest warrant from a magistrate.
When an arrest is made, the law enforcement agency submits the case to the Intake Unit of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for review. In 2010, intake attorneys reviewed about 40,000 cases submitted by law enforcement. The intake attorneys’ duties include determining that the report is complete and if the evidence can be used at trial.
They then decide if the results of the investigation justify filing criminal charges against the suspect. If the police report does not provide enough information to file criminal charges, the attorney may request additional investigation. The attorney will refuse cases that do not involve criminal conduct or that, for some reason, cannot be prosecuted.
The intake attorneys are located in the downtown Criminal District Attorney’s Office. Case reports are now submitted electronically through the Electronic Case Filing System.
Justice Court Prosecution
The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office has a unit to prosecute Class C misdemeanor cases in the justice courts. These cases include such offenses as traffic tickets, public intoxication and minor thefts. The three attorneys assigned to this unit try both jury and non-jury cases before the eight justices of the peace in Tarrant County.
Deferred Prosecution Program
The Intake Unit also administers the Deferred Prosecution Program, which is designed to give special attention to first-time offenders between the ages of 17 and 21, who are involved in non-violent crimes. The program gives these youthful offenders an opportunity to repay their debt to society without a final conviction and helps them direct their lives in more positive directions. The Deferred Prosecution Program has about a 95
percent success rate, with less than 1 percent of offenders who complete the program returning as re-offenders.