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Criminal Defense Q&A: I Was Arrested for Domestic Violence a Year Ago, but Never Charged — How Do I Find Out if the Case Has Been Dismissed?

Question:

How can I find out if my case/charges have been dropped? I was arrested last year for domestic violence and drunk in public. I was arrested, posted bail and went to my court hearing a few days later where the DA said they didn’t have enough evidence for a case and said they had to send the case back to the police department. I never saw a judge and have not had word from the court or police department since. Again this was a year ago.

Answer:

Contact the District Attorney’s Office to find out the status of your case,

The District Attorney’s Office has branch offices located within each of the courthouses in Orange County, CA: http://orangecountyda.org/contact/default.asp. Call the DA branch office at the courthouse where you had your hearing and inquire into the status of your matter with them.

The statute of limitations (read: the deadline for prosecutors to file charges against you) for Penal Code 647(f), a misdemeanor, is one year from the date of incident. Penal Code 802(a). If more than one year has passed since your arrest, then the DA is time-barred from prosecuting you for this offense.

To protect your future employment prospects, you can request a case status letter from the DA (so that you have it in writing that your arrest did not result in charges being filed). It would also be prudent to retain a criminal defense attorney to help you seal the record of this arrest.

The statute of limitations for domestic violence can range from 1 to 3 years, depending on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penal Code 801. Generally, the more severe the victim’s injury, the more likely the offense will be charged as a felony. An accused’s past incidents of domestic violence (whether arrests, convictions, or incidents where police responded, but made no arrest) are also taken into account.

You can request a case status letter from the DA regarding the domestic violence incident. Unless they tell you in writing that the case is closed, it would be prudent to check in with the DA’s office once every month or two until three years have passed from the alleged date of incident. Ultimately, if the DA does decide to file felony domestic violence charges, you will, at minimum, be notified of your arraignment date via mail.

Some criminal defense attorneys offer pre-filing services and can assist and counsel you during the period between your arrest and the prosecutor’s deadline for filing charges against you (read: the statute of limitations). You may find it helpful to consult with such an attorney. Avvo’s search feature can help you find an attorney in your area.

Read other criminal defense attorney answers at Avvo: I Was Arrested for Domestic Violence a Year Ago, but Never Charged — How Do I Find Out if the Case Has Been Dismissed?

Attorney Michael J. Ocampo is a former deputy district attorney. He focuses his practice exclusively on criminal law so that he can help those accused of a crime — often ordinary, everyday people — ensure that their rights are honored and that they receive a fair opportunity to be heard.