How Charges Are Filed In the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office


 

The opening lines of the TV show, Law and Order, explain it best. “In the Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: The police who investigate the crimes and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”

The Tulsa County criminal justice system works this way. Local law enforcement agencies are responsible for investigating the crimes. They then submit reports to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Prosecutors look at the evidence and law and determine if there is sufficient evidence to prove the case.

It is not a mathematical formula and factors include the quality of the written police reports, witness credibility, and whether the evidence is admissible in court.

Prosecutors have an ethical obligation not to be a “rubber stamp” for law enforcement officers and must file only cases that are supported by sufficient evidence.

From a practical standpoint, this ensures double jeopardy protection won’t apply to criminals if additional evidence is discovered. It also prevents taxpayers' money being wasted on cases that won't hold up in court - and allows prosecutors to focus on the most serious crimes in order to take violent criminals off the streets.

 

I think a crime has been committed. How do I file charges?

In most cases, a crime must be reported to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if a crime occurred in the city of Tulsa, the crime should be reported to the Tulsa Police Department. If a crime occurred in the county of Tulsa, the crime should be reported to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department. Broken Arrow. Bixby, Collinsville, Glenpool, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs, Skiatook and Sperry all have their own police departments.
Tulsa County Law Enforcement Agencies

Officers will investigate, interview witnesses, collect evidence, and may have evidence analyzed by a crime lab. If police determine a crime has been committed and there is cause to suspect who committed it, they submit that information to the district attorney for review. At that time, a prosecutor will review the police reports, examine the facts and the law and decide whether evidence is sufficient to file a charge.

The District Attorney or his assistants represent the state of Oklahoma in all court proceedings relating to crimes in Tulsa County. Approximately 6,000 felony and 6,000  misdemeanor cases are filed each year. The decision to charge a suspect with a crime or decline prosecution is one of the most important functions performed by this office. The decision to charge or decline prosecution holds the guilty accountable or precludes the innocent from being wrongfully held to defend themselves.

 

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