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  1. #1
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    Call prosecutor before booking suspect?

    In Harris County, Texas, we have to call an assistant district attorney and explain the incident at hand and get permission to book any suspect on any Class B misdemeanor or higher charge.

    If the ADA rejects charges, then we document that in the report and release the suspect.

    Class C misdemeanors are left to officer discretion.

    Do any other jurisdictions do it this way?

  2. #2
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    Whose whacked out policy is that? I mean did the DA come up with that stuff or is it your chain of command?

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    At LAPD we're required to get booking approval from either a supervising detective for the investigative squad assigned the crime the suspect is arrested for; or the patrol watch commander. The D/A or C(ity)/A has little or no advice to offer on booking.

    That was a culture shock moment here at my new agency. The fact that I, almost all grown up, can arrest and book the suspect for the charge I want, without running it by a supervisor.
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    When I worked for the VA we had to go and call the US Attorney's office to see if they would want the case. If they accepted the case we would have to go to Grand Rapids to have the duty AUSA read over the case reports and then get the subject before a federal magistrate within 24 hrs. However they generally refused unless it was an employee or something dealing with our pharmacy. Most others it was cite, release and bar till the outcome of the case. We also after getting the declination would contact the county prosecutor who would generally accept the case.

    From what I remember in Philly, patrol officers can not do felony charges and the cases usually go to division detectives (Northeast, Central, Northwest, North, South, Southwest, West and East)
    Last edited by orlandofed5-0; 09-12-2009 at 03:21 PM.
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    In San Antonio/Bexar County the city/county magistrate office is staffed with an ADA 24/7/365. When you arrest someone you have to write your report and have everything completed for the case prior to trying to book them. Then you drop them off at the door with the jail staff and take your report to the ADA for review. They ask questions and if they don't like something, you either better have the ability to rewrite the report right then and there, or you cut your prisoner loose. If you were just a transport officer and didn't actually arrest the prisoner and couldn't answer questions, they would either want the arresting officer front and center asap or want the prisoner cut loose. They had a bad habit of releasing DWIs that blew below a 0.08, regardless of other PC such as nearly causing a wreck, bombing SFST, or passing out behind the wheel. If they weren't 0.08 they didn't want to hear it.

    I'd take Harris Counties' way of doing it over Bexar's any day.

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    I'm a little stunned. We have a superviser who reviews arrest reports for content (Probable Cause). That is the only hurdle to clear when making an arrest. I would think that an ADA would want to look past the Probable Cause standard and attempt to try the case at the time of the arrest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOI View Post
    In San Antonio/Bexar County the city/county magistrate office is staffed with an ADA 24/7/365. When you arrest someone you have to write your report and have everything completed for the case prior to trying to book them. Then you drop them off at the door with the jail staff and take your report to the ADA for review. They ask questions and if they don't like something, you either better have the ability to rewrite the report right then and there, or you cut your prisoner loose. If you were just a transport officer and didn't actually arrest the prisoner and couldn't answer questions, they would either want the arresting officer front and center asap or want the prisoner cut loose. They had a bad habit of releasing DWIs that blew below a 0.08, regardless of other PC such as nearly causing a wreck, bombing SFST, or passing out behind the wheel. If they weren't 0.08 they didn't want to hear it.

    I'd take Harris Counties' way of doing it over Bexar's any day.
    What if the suspect was uinder the influence of a drug (prescribed or illegal)?
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTxSarge View Post
    Whose whacked out policy is that? I mean did the DA come up with that stuff or is it your chain of command?
    It's the Harris County DA's policy.

    My patrol district also extends into another county, where we don't call the DA's office prior to booking. I like that system better.

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    In Chicago and suburbs in Cook County, you have to get approval from the State's Attorney's Felony Review Unit to charge with felonies. They will come out and interview witnesses, victim and offender on most. There are a few they will do over the phone.

    This was started by the State's Atty's Office in the mid 70's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rush817 View Post
    What if the suspect was uinder the influence of a drug (prescribed or illegal)?
    I don't remember exactly but I seem to recall that if you believed it was narcotics you would have to get them to agree to blow, receive a 0.00 result, and then hope you can find a D.R.E. to test them. And then rewrite your report to reflect your DRE findings.

    I admit that it has been a while since I was there and it might have changed. I don't have any first hand knowledge of the Bexar County procedure anymore, but the last time I asked, it was still the same.

    And it isn't the agencies that want to do that, it's the DA's Office.

  11. #11
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    It's been like that in Harris County forever. There are so many cities within the incorporated city limits, such as Bellaire, Pasadena, La Porte, Seabrook, Shoreacres, Galena Park, Port of Houston, South Houston...and the list goes on and on, and don't forget all the unincorporated areas patrolled by eight constable districts and the S.O. that to do it any other way would overload an already overloaded system. The good thing about the way Harris County does it, is if the DA doesn't accept the charge, the liability, should a lawsuit arise, falls squarely on the ADAs shoulders.

    We don't have to call the DAs in my county, except for felonies, but we are a smaller county just south of Harris County.

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    When I worked for Menlo Park PD, I had virtually complete discretion. I even had one case where the watch commander told me that he did not think that the person I stopped was a DUI. I arrested her anyway. She had a BAC of .17 and a prior.

    In Southern California, it varies by agency. Keith, I seem to recall that in the 1970s LAPD had to get approval from a sergeant for felony bookings, but not for misdemeanors. Another, current approach is to get approval from the watch commander if the suspect is not going to be released on a promise to appear.
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    I always enjoyed complete Officer discretion. Certainly, Supervisor's reviewed reports, but the decision to arrest was mine. To file, or go to Grand Jury was the DA's. That was after the arrest and booking. If the DA decided to Noll Pros, that was his call, his responsibility.

  14. #14
    DAL
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSD73 View Post
    It's been like that in Harris County forever. There are so many cities within the incorporated city limits, such as Bellaire, Pasadena, La Porte, Seabrook, Shoreacres, Galena Park, Port of Houston, South Houston...and the list goes on and on, and don't forget all the unincorporated areas patrolled by eight constable districts and the S.O. that to do it any other way would overload an already overloaded system. The good thing about the way Harris County does it, is if the DA doesn't accept the charge, the liability, should a lawsuit arise, falls squarely on the ADAs shoulders.

    We don't have to call the DAs in my county, except for felonies, but we are a smaller county just south of Harris County.
    How are you going to get sued for not charging someone? Perhaps in a domestic violence case, where the law imposes a duty to arrest one of the parties, but I doubt that the DA would refuse to file those cases because of the risk of violence when the arrestee is released.

    I also remember that in Virginia and Maryland, when you arrest someone without a warrant, you have to take him before the on-call magistrate and get the magistrate to issue a warrant for the person's arrest. The magistrate also decides whether to release on OR.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieth M.
    The fact that I, almost all grown up, can arrest and book the suspect for the charge I want,

  16. #16
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    The only thing we consult the DA on is when an Officer or "other" is facing criminal charges. Anything else we go to the Magistrate and viola...


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

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    I just went and read what the rest of you had posted. I'm still surprised at what I learn reading things here. DA's permission to charge, supervisors permission, felony charges...oy vey...I don't know how y'all do it; then again, I reckon if you've never done it differently then its no big deal.

    In NC a crack rock is a felony, so I doubt the DA or whomever would appreciate us calling them all the time. It's not hard at all to bag a felony in this State. I've NEVER asked a supervisor permission to arrest. Never. I have asked for advice on the appropriate charge when I was newer, but no one here but the Magistrate determines PC for the charge.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  18. #18
    DAL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    The only thing we consult the DA on is when an Officer or "other" is facing criminal charges. Anything else we go to the Magistrate and viola...
    I have never seen a magistrate with a viola. Does he play it well?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DAL View Post
    How are you going to get sued for not charging someone? Perhaps in a domestic violence case, where the law imposes a duty to arrest one of the parties, but I doubt that the DA would refuse to file those cases because of the risk of violence when the arrestee is released.

    I also remember that in Virginia and Maryland, when you arrest someone without a warrant, you have to take him before the on-call magistrate and get the magistrate to issue a warrant for the person's arrest. The magistrate also decides whether to release on OR.
    Well in Texas, there is no duty to arrest anyone in a domestic violence situation, maybe by department policy, but the only thing we must do in a DV situation is write a report.

    As a matter of fact, when I worked for an agency in Harris County, I had the DA not accept domestic violence charges on numerous occassions. They've declined charges of assault, and even declined charges of assault on a public servant. You'd be surprised at how many DA's refuse charges in Harris County and even in a DV situation, the bonds are ridiculously low that the risk of violence is still there, just a few hours later than normal. I had a DWI get a 500 dollar bond and a DWLI (suspended license) get a bond for 25000...go figure. If people attempted to sue an agency for lack of action or for not doing what they think is their duty, then all one needs to do is say, it's up to the DA and this is what they decided..not our call.

    Of course, many times, it's all in how you present the case to the DA, you can swing it either way. Except for Assault on PO, you have to be in the hospital for them to take it....a swift kick in the nutz and they'll refuse the charge all day long cause you aren't 'seriously' injured.

  20. #20
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    I've worked some cases with the FBI and other federal agencies. Usually they'd run things by the federal prosecutor's office before making an arrest without a warrant. Most of the time, they'd ask local agencies to take the person(s) into custody on state charges, then assert jurisdiction after a federal warrant was obtained.

    Where I retired from, bookings of either felony or misdemeanor suspects required the approval of a supervisor. While I don't recall getting a reject as an officer, I can remember quite a few cases brought to me (as a supervisor) that didn't even have the basic corpus needed to establish the crime.

    Once, I reviewed a police report on a "convicted felon in possession of a firearm" arrest. Another supervisor had approved the booking hours earlier. The officers had been to a domestic violence investigation, verified no violation had occurred, but (at the request of the female) took a couple of guns for safekeeping. When they returned to the station, they ran the male for his RAPS and saw he'd been arrested for GTA years earlier (his "felony"). The only problem was, his case was dispo'd as a misdemeanor violation. They returned to the scene and arrested the guy! Neither the arresting officers or the supervisor who'd approved the arrest really knew how to read a rap sheet and all had missed this "little detail."

    I helped to clean up the mess with some assistance from our city's "Risk Management" department (the arrestee got a few bucks and an apology for our screwup), but it could have been a lot worse. One of the problems frequently encountered at my department for awhile was new supervisors w/o any investigative experience. While working SWAT or other special enforcement details might have provided great expertise in the tactical arena, many of these new sergeants were unfamiliar with legal matters such as criminal histories, search and seizure issues, and other areas relating to investigative follow-ups.
    Last edited by pulicords; 09-12-2009 at 06:19 PM.
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  21. #21
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    I only WISH we had that rule... even if it just were used for detective cases!

    Due to the historically combative relationship between our DA's office and the various law enforcement agencies in Fulton county, our officers make arrests and then dump the paperwork on our charging and screening ADA's... and then rarely do any additional work on the case. Hell, some of them won't even keep a copy of their reports.

    Even the detectives often lose patience and take out warrants on suspects before the case is anywhere near ready to go forward... and dump the case on our office once it is "cleared by arrest" (sometimes when there are not even provable charges demonstrated to a probable cause level in the case file).

    I know most police officers bitch and moan about lazy, risk averse ADA's... but I'd totally sell a kidney to work with officers who actually followed up on their cases and completed a provable case (or just waited for prosecutorial approval before making an arrest). Alas, unless I am one day good enough to be an AUSA, I have two kidneys and I'm keeping them.

    Sigh,
    -nolo, your friendly neighborhood prosecutor

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    I'm really surprised by all of this. If I arrest someone, take them to the jail, and book them in they either bond out or sit in jail until their first appearance hearing on the charge that I arrested them for being Class Y felony down to Class C misdemeanor. I can then leave the jail, go somewhere and review my case, and call booking and add charges. It was the same way when I was a city officer 100 miles from here.

    Technically, the county sheriff can close the jail due to overcrowding, etc in which a non-felonious offender could be cited out, however, there aren't any other instances where I would have to ask permission to book someone.

    Obviously, the prosecutor can lower the charges and move on with similar motions later.

  23. #23
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    Only retarded thing we have to do is clear our arrest with the jail sergeant. If they don't like our paperwork, they won't take our prisoner...
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    In NC a crack rock is a felony, so I doubt the DA or whomever would appreciate us calling them all the time. It's not hard at all to bag a felony in this State. I've NEVER asked a supervisor permission to arrest. Never. I have asked for advice on the appropriate charge when I was newer, but no one here but the Magistrate determines PC for the charge.
    Possession of any amount of cocaine is a felony in Texas. Harris County ADAs will accept cases of cocaine residue in crack pipes. Hence, the saying, "A trace is a case."

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSD73 View Post
    Except for Assault on PO, you have to be in the hospital for them to take it....a swift kick in the nutz and they'll refuse the charge all day long cause you aren't 'seriously' injured.
    Maybe times have changed. My coworkers and I have never had a problem getting charges filed for crimes against peace officers. A guy told me, "F*** you! I'm gonna kick your a**!" The ADA took a charge of terroristic threat on a public servant. My friend got kicked and it caused pain. The ADA in that case took (felony) assault causing bodily injury to a peace officer since "physical pain" is included in the definition of "bodily injury" in the Penal Code.

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