By District Attorney Ryan Sayers
2023 Vol. 19
So far during these Q&A with the DA articles, I have answered questions about how trials work, discussed sentencing guidelines to explain the length of sentences, explained plea negotiations and agreements and provided an overview of the appeal process.
For the next few weeks, I am going to take a step back to explain the criminal investigative process and discuss prosecutorial discretion.
At the end of this series of articles, this will help answer the common question of “why hasn’t _____ been charged yet?”
The vast majority of criminal cases in Clearfield County are filed based solely on what an officer is provided from a victim or something that a police officer observed first-hand or some combination of both.
These types of cases are relatively straightforward and officers can file charges within a short period of time after the crime has occurred or been reported.
These types of crimes include a theft with video evidence from a business, or a DUI where the officer observes impaired driving and gets a blood draw or where an officer is called to a domestic violence incident and observes the victim has visible injuries.
However, sometimes there needs to be a lengthy investigation because everything is not as clear upfront and the Commonwealth needs to make sure that all of the necessary evidence is collected before proceeding with charging a person or persons.
Typically, we see this in cases where numerous people need to be interviewed, where there is extensive laboratory testing necessary or where a crime has been committed but the criminal is unknown/unconfirmed.
Plus, almost all of these more complex cases involve at least one, if not multiple, search warrants to obtain additional needed information.
These cases could potentially include homicide, drug delivery resulting in death, child sexual assaults and drug trafficking.
Now that I have given a brief overview, next week I will delve deeper into the different aspects of police investigations.
Ryan Sayers is the elected District Attorney of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
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