The following is taken from a brochure produced by the Dallas Bar Association
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Important information to know after you’ve been arrested
This pamphlet is a general introduction to the criminal justice system in Dallas County. It does not offer legal advice. Its purpose is to provide a basic explanation of court terms and describe how a criminal case progresses through the legal system.
- Misdemeanor cases are filed by the police agency with the District Attorney’s Office.
- If the District Attorney’s Office decides to prosecute the case, a document is created called an information. (The information is a written statement filed and presented on behalf of the State of Texas by the district attorney, charging the defendant with an offense.) It provides the defendant with notice as to the offense for which he stands charged.
- Once an information has been processed, a file is generated and the case is randomly assigned to one of 12 misdemeanor courts.
- Felony level offenses are filed by the police agency with the District Attorney’s Office.
- The District Attorney’s Office then generates a charging instrument known as an indictment. (An indictment is the written statement of a grand jury accusing a person therein named of some act or omission which, by law, is declared to be an offense.) The indictment puts the defendant on notice regarding the charges being brought.
- Once the paperwork has been generated the case is then set to be heard by the grand jury. The grand jury is a panel of citizens who briefly review information provided by the police who then make a determination whether there is sufficient evidence to believe that an offense has occurred.)
- Any person charged with a felony offense has an absolute right to have his/her case indicted by the grand jury.
- Once filed, a felony case is randomly assigned to one of 15 felony courts. It may take two to three weeks before a case is actually heard by the grand jury.
- The grand jury will either issue a true bill of indictment or a no bill. True bill means that the grand jury found that there was enough evidence to believe that an offense did occur and the case will then be forwarded to the felony court to which it was assigned. A no bill means that the grand jury did not believe that there was enough evidence to proceed with the case as it was filed.
Nothing stated herein should be construed or interpreted to grant rights or remedies not otherwise granted under federal or state law. This information is provided as a public service and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice or representation by a lawyer.