Legal Question in Criminal Law in Kansas

What does it mean to have felony charges dropped to No Charge? HOw does it work that the law can prosecute within 5 years of the charge?

Asked on 10/13/10, 1:25 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Kip Johnson Attorney at Law

For purposes of clarification, criminal cases, felony or misdemeanors, filed by the State of Kansas do not get dropped or changed to "No Charge" the get dismissed.

If you were arrested and the officer suspected that you committed a felony, he is allowed to detain you and take you to jail, he then has to file an affidavit, stating under oath, the facts that he has either observed or learned that leads him to believe you committed a felony and what felony charges he feels you have committed. This is commonly known as a "48 hour affidavit" and it used to justify detention of a citizen even though formal charges (a criminal case being filed with the district court) have not been filed.

When a person is suspected of committing a felony, a police officer can not file charges, the County or District Attorney has to do that. (Misdemeanor charges can be filed by a law enforcement officer and done when he writes and issues a ticket to a person).

When the prosecutor receives an officer's report and affidavit, he makes an independent decision whether or not to file charges. (This is called prosecutorial discretion). The prosecutor has the discretion to decide whether to file charges or not, and there is no one, except a judge, under limited circumstances, that can force a county attorney to file charges. If after reviewing the affidavit, police reports and other supporting documents associated with the investigation the prosecutor decides not to file charges, that is typically call a "No Charge." (Sometimes it is referred to as a NAT, meaning No Action Taken).

A prosecutor can change his mind about whether to prosecute within the time frame of the statute of limitations of the specific crime a person is suspected of committing. For most criminal cases, the statute of limitations is 5 years. This means the state can prosecutor a person for violating the law up to 5 years after the alleged violation happened. After the statute of limitation has expired on a crime, the prosecution of that crime is barred.

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Answered on 11/06/10, 2:57 am

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