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Understanding the Meaning of ‘No Charges Filed’ | Explained in Detail

What Does ‘No Charges Filed’ Mean?

Something that happens occasionally is a person is taken into custody or is cited for some sort of criminal allegation. They receive a notice to appear in the mail and go to court on that day, only to find out that “no charges have been filed.” Well, what happens next in these instances?

If you look at the calendar and your name is not on there or there’s a list that says NCF (No Charges Filed), what does that mean for you?

Does it mean that your case is completely dismissed, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore, or does it mean that there is something else that could potentially happen?

Explaining ‘No Charges Filed’

Typically, if no charges have been filed on a misdemeanor case, there’s usually about a year that the DA has an opportunity to bring the charges at a later date. This is known as the statute of limitations and it limits the amount of time the district attorney has to file criminal charges after an alleged crime.

It is important to note that no charges filed doesn’t mean they never will be. It is possible they’re still doing more investigation, or they haven’t received the police report from the police agency yet. There is also the possibility that it was kicked back to ask a few questions or they’re waiting on blood test results if it’s a DUI. Whatever the case maybe, they still have an opportunity at a later time to file the charges.

If the alleged crime is a felony, the statute of limitations usually gives them three years to file charges. Certain, more serious felonies, have longer statutes of limitations.

No Charges Filed v Case Rejected

Usually, what we’re waiting to hear is whether the case has been rejected. If the case has been rejected, then typically you won’t have to worry about charges being brought at a later time. If the case has not been rejected and it’s still under investigation or pending review, however, then there is a possibility that it can come back.

How We Proceed When No Charges Have been Filed

If you showed up to court, we would typically contact DA’s office weekly and scan the online record to see whether charges have been filed. You would be on the lookout for any notices that may be coming in the mail at a later time saying that charges have been filed against you.

It does not matter whether charges are filed two days after an arrest or 364 days later. It does not necessarily strengthen or weaken the DA’s case. If it took that long, there is a possibility that people’s memories won’t be as fresh as they were when the crime initially occurred. There’s a possibility that they didn’t cite surveillance video that may have been recorded over, so the delay may affect the case one way or another.

Pre-charging Representation

In some cases, we represent clients before charges have been filed. This is known as precharging representation. In these cases, we help clients through that process and help them deal with possible investigations that law enforcement may try to conduct during that period. They may call you and you try to question you. They may try to get more information. We always advise having an attorney present when speaking with law enforcement to reduce any possibility of incriminating yourself.

If you have any concerns about pending investigations against you, we’d be happy to discuss your options during a complimentary consultation.

Author Bio

Jo-Anna Nieves is the Founder and Managing Attorney of The Nieves Law Firm, an Oakland criminal defense law firm she created in 2012. With more than 11 years of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, domestic violence, expungement, federal crimes, juvenile law, motions to vacate, sex crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges.

Jo-Anna received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Super Lawyer Rising Star the past 8 years, the #12 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the U.S. by Law Firm 500 in 2019, and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc 5000 in 2023.

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