Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense
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Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense
Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense


  • Top Lawyers - San Diego Magazine
  • Former Deputy San Diego City Attorney
  • Former USMC Captain
  • Located Directly Across From Vista Courthouse
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Attorneys William R. Christoph & Nicholas W. Christoph

Arrested But No Charges Filed at Arraignment: Understanding the Process

by | Jun 29, 2023

Being arrested for a crime is a daunting and distressing experience that can upend your life. However, it can be even more perplexing and frustrating when you find out that no charges have been filed against you on your arraignment date. On one hand, you may feel relieved that no charges are filed but wonder if they can or will be filed in the future. If charges are not filed at the arraignment date, they still can be filed later as long as they are filed within the statute of limitations. Different crimes have different statues of limitation or time periods when the charge must be filed. In California, misdemeanors must be filed within one year of the crime, and while many felonies have a three year statute of limitations, more serious felonies have longer statutes of limitation and some have none.

The Arrest

An arrest is the act of apprehending a person suspected of committing a crime. It typically involves being taken into custody by law enforcement officers, who have the authority to arrest individuals based on probable cause. The purpose of an arrest is to initiate the criminal justice process, which leads to the formal accusation at the arraignment and prosecution of the alleged offender.

Arraignment and the Role of Charges

The arraignment is a crucial stage in the legal process where the accused is appears before a court to hear the charges against them and enter a plea. It is typically held shortly after the arrest. At the arraignment, the charges are formally filed and the accused is informed of the charges, enters a plea not guilty in most cases and the case is set for further proceedings like pretrial negotiations etc. Only after the first appearance is the discovery of evidence against the accused made available to the defendant and his/her attorney.

However, there are instances where an individual may be arrested but no charges are filed by the time of the arraignment. If this happens, you should check with the District Attorney’s Office handling the case and may be able to get a “No File” letter that simply states no charges were filed at the Court date and also advises charges could still be filed in the future. There are several reasons charges may not be filed by your arraignment Court date, including:

  1. Insufficient evidence: The prosecution may not believe there is enough evidence to establish a case against the accused. In such cases, they might need additional time to collect evidence or conduct further investigations before filing charges or rejecting the case for filing.
  2. Ongoing investigations: Law enforcement agencies may be conducting an extensive investigation that is still underway. They may want to gather more evidence, awaiting lab results or trying to identify other potential suspects before proceeding with formal charges.
  3. Filing delays: Administrative backlogs or procedural issues within the criminal justice system can also cause delays in filing charges. It could be due to a heavy caseload, resource constraints, or other administrative factors.

Legal Implications and Rights

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been arrested but no charges have been filed, it is important to understand your legal rights. Consulting with a lawyer can help protect your interests and make informed decisions and see if there is anything you can do that may help avoid charges or mitigate charges if filed.

Navigating the Situation

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been arrested but no charges have been filed, it is essential to take certain steps to protect your rights and interests:

  1. Seek legal counsel: Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is helpful in assessing your situation, providing guidance, and helping you navigate through the legal process.
  2. Understand the timeline: Familiarize yourself with the legal procedures and timelines in your jurisdiction, including the statute of limitations for filing the charges. This knowledge will give you a better understanding of what to expect and enable you to make informed decisions.
  3. Cooperate with your attorney: Work closely with your attorney, providing them with any relevant information and cooperating fully. They will be better equipped to advocate for your rights, and consider ways to show the prosecutor why charges should not be filed or filed as lesser charges.
  4. Maintain your composure: Being arrested without charges can be stressful and emotionally challenging. It is important to stay composed and refrain from engaging in actions that may worsen your situation.

Being arrested without charges filed at the arraignment can be a confusing and distressing experience. It is essential to understand the legal process and your rights during this time. Seeking legal counsel, staying informed, and cooperating with your attorney are crucial steps to navigate through this situation successfully.



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