Criminal Case Process


Lane County District Attorney
125 E. 8th Ave. #400
Eugene, OR 97401




When a crime is reported, the police are responsible for conducting an investigation.  A suspect may be arrested or issued a citation in lieu of arrest.  After completing their investigation, the police submit their reports to the District Attorney's Office.  A prosecuting attorney reviews the case and decides whether to pursue charges against an individual or individuals with a crime or crimes.  Police officers may also submit an incident report, with no arrest or citation, for review.  The District Attorney's Office does not typically investigate cases, as our investigative staff is extremely limited.  If you believe that a crime has been committed, please contact your Sheriff's Office or local police agency to report the crime.  They will investigate the case and will refer it to the DA's Office for review.


When a person is arrested and taken to jail, they may remain in jail until their arraignment or may be released.  If released, the defendant must sign a release agreement.  The conditions of the release agreement include appearing in court as ordered, not leaving the state without the permission of the court, and not having any contact (direct or indirect) with the victim(s) of the crime(s).  The release agreement is in effect until the court case is concluded.  If the defendant contacts a victim while the case is pending, the contact should be reported to the police.  You may call the court's Release Officers at (541) 682-4201 for further information.

Information about the defendant's custody status is available through VINE, an automated release notification system.

Filing Criminal Charges

A criminal case begins when the District Attorney's Office, on behalf of the State of Oregon, files a charging document (a complaint, information or indictment) against the defendant.

A crime is a felony if the maximum penalty includes a sentence of more than one year of incarceration.  Felonies include, for example, possession, manufacturing and delivery of drugs, robbery, burglary, theft in the first degree, identity theft, assault in the first degree/second degree/third degree; and most sexual assault crimes.

A crime is a misdemeanor if the defendant cannot be ordered to serve more than one year in jail.  Common misdemeanors include most assault in the fourth degree cases, harassment, menacing, theft in the second degree/third degree, criminal trespass, and most DUII cases.

Charging Policy: It is the policy of the District Attorney that criminal charges will be filed based only upon the evidence. In recognition of the value of early acceptance of responsibility and early disposition of cases, an initial charging document may not reflect all charges supported by the evidence but will include consideration of all those impacted by the criminal conduct. If a case is presented to the Grand Jury, all charges supported by the evidence may be considered by the Grand Jury for determination of Indictment.


The arraignment is the first court appearance after a defendant is arrested or issued a citation.  Prior to arraignment, a Deputy DA is prohibited from speaking to a defendant regarding the resolution of a case.  At the arraignment, the defendant is formally advised of the criminal charges filed.  The charges filed after review by a Deputy DA may be different than those charged by the police.  If defendants meet certain criteria, the judge may have an attorney appointed to represent them at arraignment.  In misdemeanor cases, a plea may be entered at the time of arraignment.  In most felony cases, a plea may not be entered until after the preliminary hearing or grand jury takes place, unless the defendant waives that process. 

Grand Jury

Unless the defendant waives the right to have his or her case presented to the grand jury, or resolves the case early through plea negotiations, a felony case will likely be presented to the grand jury.  The grand jury is a group of seven citizens selected from the jury pool to hear evidence on crimes committed in Lane County.  They determine whether the State has sufficient evidence to prosecute the defendant for the offense.

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