Delaware District Attorneys
In most states, District Attorneys (or "D.A.s") file criminal charges against suspects on behalf of the state, within their respective district. Judicial districts are typically comprised of one or more counties, while D.A.s sometimes are referred to as "County Attorneys" or simply "prosecutors." When the D.A. decides there's probable cause (including sufficient evidence) for charges, they'll file a criminal criminal complaint. Sometimes the charges are filed after a grand jury has established probable cause. Of course, the D.A. also may decide not to pursue a case after an arrest.
Delaware prosecutors act in much the same manner, but the sparsely populated state actually doesn't have District Attorneys. Instead, the Delaware Department of Justice, or "DOJ" (headed by the Attorney General, or "A.G."), prosecutes crimes throughout the state. While "Delaware District Attorneys" don't actually exist, this article covers the basics of how criminal charges are filed in the state, including other functions of the A.G.'s office and links to specific divisions of the state DOJ.
How Criminal Charges are Filed in Delaware
Both misdemeanors and felonies in Delaware are prosecuted by the Criminal Division of the Delaware DOJ, in lieu of District Attorneys. Delaware's charging methods are similar to those used in other states: A grand jury of randomly selected state residents considers the evidence in a private setting; if they fail to indict the defendant, then the case doesn't proceed. If the defendant waives indictment, the prosecutor may choose to file charges through the "information."
After the indictment or filing of the information, the next phase is the bail review. Held in Magistrate Court, Municipal Court, or the Court of Common Please, bail review is when the court determines whether bail can be reduced or if the defendant should stay in pretrial detention. The next step is the arraignment, which is open to the public, where the defendant is formally charged with a crime and enters either a "guilty" or "not guilty" plea (the defendant may waive this hearing, though).
Delaware Attorney General's Office: Overview
The state's Department of Justice is headed by the Delaware Attorney General, an elected official who serves as the top prosecutor and law enforcement officer. The A.G. oversees five divisions; in addition to the Criminal Division (discussed above), these include the following:
- Civil - This division provides legal services for the state government and is headed by the State Solicitor. There are 60 Deputy Attorneys General working within this division.
- Civil Rights & Public Trust - Created in 2015, this division is tasked with protecting the individual rights and liberties of state residents. Areas of focus include constitutional rights; public accommodations; housing discrimination; employment discrimination; education rights; and the rights of people with disabilities.
- Family - This division enforces child support orders; prosecutes child abuse/neglect cases; and also administers Delaware's Juvenile Delinquency & Truancy Unit.
- Fraud & Consumer Protection - Through this department, the DOJ enforces laws meant to protect consumers from offenses such as securities fraud, consumer fraud, Medicaid provider fraud, antitrust violations, white collar crimes, and deceptive business practices.
Charged With a Crime in Delaware? Get Professional Legal Help Today
If you've been charged with a crime in Delaware, you'll mostly likely want to retain legal counsel. A criminal attorney will understand the process, can help you prepare for your case, and will work to get the best outcome possible for your case. Don't delay; contact an experienced criminal defense attorney near you today.