Missing ComplaintMissing Complaint – What should I do?
It is not uncommon for a defendant in a criminal case to be advised in court, or to be informed by mail that the complaint intended to be filed against that person is “missing”. Simply put, this means that the district attorney has not yet filed the case for what is usually an undisclosed reason. A case may be returned to the investigating agency for clarification or further investigation, and quite frequently, the filing of a case may be delayed merely because the district attorney’s office is too busy and doesn’t prepare the file in time for your scheduled court date. It does not mean that that case has been dismissed.
In fact, the D.A. has up to three years from the date of the offense (longer for certain crimes) to file a felony case, and up to one year from the date of the offense for misdemeanors. Consequently, more likely than not, criminal charges will still filed against you.
Whether your complaint is “missing” or not, it is critical that you do not discuss the facts or circumstances of your case with anyone. At all costs, do not speak with anyone in law enforcement until you’ve had the opportunity to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney.
It is not unusual at this stage of the process (when a complaint is “missing”) for the police or other investigators to attempt to get a statement from you regarding your case. Keep in mind, the case may have been returned to them by the DA for ‘further investigation’. If you are approached for such a statement, you should politely but firmly inform them that you do not wish to speak to them and request that they speak to your attorney. It is perfectly acceptable for you to offer them our office phone number, 818.769.5200.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
In some cases the D.A. will request that you return to court on a new date to see if they have filed charges against you. However, in most cases the judge will ask you if you would like your case ‘discharged’. It is generally in your best interest to say, “No, thank you,” and agree to return voluntarily on some future date. Why? Because if you request that your case to be ‘discharged’, you have no protection against being arrested if the DA files the case a week or two after you appeared. However, if you request a future court date, and the case is filed between when you appeared and your return date, no warrant will be issued, you will not be arrested, any bail monies that you previously paid will not be forfeited, and your bond will continue to be posted.
Do not be confused by the difference between a “missing” complaint and a “rejection” of you case. If the D.A. has ‘rejected’ your case, it means that after reviewing your case, they have decided not to file and your case ends there and then with no fear of future filing or arrest.