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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
    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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    • #3
      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.
      "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

      Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

      Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

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      • #4
        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, 02:21 PM.
        I don't answer recruitment messages....

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        • #5
          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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          • #6
            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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            • #7
              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)?
              Strong Body, Sharp Mind And Good Tactics!

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              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat

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                      • #12
                        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.
                        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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                        • #13
                          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.

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                          • #14
                            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.
                            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kieth M.
                              The fact that I, almost all grown up, can arrest and book the suspect for the charge I want,

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