How long does a DA have to file charges?

UPDATED: Nov 7, 2010

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How long does a DA have to file charges?

My son was arrested for indecent behavior with a juvenile. Happened in 03/10. How do you know if the DA will file charges? How long does it take for the DA to decide? All the lawyers I ask want me to pay the retainer first. I need to know if I need to retain a lawyer. Can I call the DA or is there anybody that can help me for free?

Asked on November 7, 2010 under Criminal Law, Louisiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The amount of time between a criminal incident and when a suspect can be charged is governed by something called the "statute of limitations."  In most states, the limitations period for an offense such as this is several years.  If your son has already been arrested, you need to seek legal help ASAP.  Get one local to the area where all of this happened.  They will be able to use their local contacts toy your son's best advantage.  While there is no crystal ball as to if or when charges will be filed, having an attorney who practices in the court in question will can be invaluable.  Since money appears to be an issue for you, know that since this is a criminal matter, if your income is under a certain level your son will be appointed a PD.  If your income is too high you can try legal Aid (although it too has income requirements; I'm not sure if they will be the same).  Additionally, check to see if there is a law school nearby to where you live; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  Also, contact the local Bar Association in county in question; it may have a list of attorneys who will take your son's case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on income/circumstances. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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