There are many reasons why a district attorney would be calling a private citizen; he could be gathering evidence, satisfying the requirements of the law, or following up on a lead, among other reasons.
In the article that follows, we explain more about the reasons why a district attorney might be calling.
Why Would a District Attorney Be Looking For Me? (Explained)
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Which District Attorney Called You?
If you got a call from a District Attorney or the DA’s office, the first step before anyone goes down the road of being anxious is figuring out who did the calling.
Was it someone from the DA’s office staff, or was it a specific District Attorney?
Most DA’s offices have multiple DAs.
There’s the elected DA who is more like a politician.
This individual manages his deputy district attorneys and his assistant district attorneys (all lawyers).
The head DA manages the budget, provides opinions about legislation, handles press opportunities, and hires/fires attorneys.
The head DA rarely handles any cases.
The assistant and deputy DAs are the ones handling the cases.
If you know the name of the DA that tried to contact you, you can do a quick Google search or check the DA’s website to see if you can get some quick background on what types of cases that particular attorney handles.
Most DA’s offices have dedicated investigators as well, so the caller might not have been a prosecutor at all.
At certain points of the case, the district attorney contacts the named victims to satisfy legal requirements.
Victims are to be provided with notice of upcoming hearings, and have an opportunity to speak on their own behalf at sentencing.
They may or may not be called to testify at a hearing.
A contact from the DA’s office could be perfunctory (to just check the box).
Or the DA could really need to speak with you to first let you know that you are a victim (happens sometimes in property crimes when you didn’t even realize you had lost something).
In the same vein, the DA might be struggling to get hold of the named victim in the case, and is reaching out to known associates to try and help track the individual down.
Law enforcement generally handles the gathering of physical evidence, digital evidence, and witness statements.
But as the case progresses through the court hearings and trial approaches, prosecutors are more likely to pick up the phone themselves.
They may call witnesses to get new details, or confirm old details.
They might be deep in trial preparation, and the call is related to the preparation of their case.
This is the case whether or not you are a citizen were a witness to anything.
You might not even realize that you were somehow tangentially involved.
(Or maybe you weren’t, and the call is to confirm).
The most stressful reason someone from the DA’s office might be calling is that they have filed or will be filing criminal charges against you.
In most situations, those initial calls are to notify you about the pending case, to encourage you to find an attorney who can then confer with the prosecutor about the case.
It can actually be a good thing to get such a call before the case has been filed, because that might give the defendant a chance to negotiate the case to resolution early on (with less expense and stress)–getting ahead of the case, so to speak.
Getting a call from the DA’s office about the case could also be a sign that the case isn’t that serious.
In the most serious of cases, the DA’s office doesn’t contact the defendant to tell them about it.
Because in the most serious cases, defendants who realize they are headed to jail for the rest of their lives tend to run and hide.
To avoid having to hunt for their defendants for months (or even years), DA’s offices tend to file serious charges ‘under seal’ so the defendant can’t find out about it, and then get a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.
Once the defendant is safely in custody (jail), the DA’s office will move to unseal the charges to move the case forward.
What To Do?
If the DA’s office has called you, you’ll probably have a decent idea what the call was about (more so than we will, not knowing your situation or where the case is).
One thing is for certain…the DA’s office called for a reason, and they are likely to call again.
If you think a criminal case has been filed against you, now would be a great time to seek out the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to help you with all of your communications with the DA’s office.
Having an attorney assist you will prevent you from making your case worse for yourself, as many people do without realizing it.
If you think that you might be a witness or victim, you might feel comfortable returning the call to get an idea of what is going on.
If you aren’t sure about what is happening, you can contact an attorney to make the call for you, or you can call yourself, remembering of course that everything you say can and will be used against you.
Either way, don’t ignore it.
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