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Interviewer: Yes. What would you say are some of the common misconceptions that people have about scratching?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: I think when people go to court and someone says that their case is scratched; they think that the case is going to go away. If a person is arrested, the Maricopa County Office reviews the police report and then determines whether formal charges should be filed. If they fail to file the complaint within 48 hours of your arrest and initial appearance hearing, which usually occurs 24 hours of your arrest and you appear, then it’s said to be scratched.
Like I said, again, once the complaint is filed and that the summons is delivered, it means the case is going to come back.
If Your Case Is Scratched, Your Defense Attorney Will Check to See If Your Felony Case Has Been Refiled
Interviewer: Let’s say I’ve gotten into a DUI incident and it looks like it’s going to be a felony charge or possibly a felony, and I find out that my case has been scratched, what is my attorney going to be doing? Is my attorney going to keep in touch with me?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Normally in cases where we have clients where the cases are scratched, we keep them on a list. When their name comes up again and we see that a complaint has been filed, we notify the client and follow up on when the next court date is going to be. Then we’re there with them at that first court date.
A lot of times people won’t realize that it might be a long time before their case is filed. They’ll move, they won’t get the summons and they won’t know the complaint has been filed. It’s a way that we keep up on their case for them.
When Does Scratching Occur During the Criminal Charging Process?
Interviewer: Now, does this occur after the initial arraignment?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: What normally happens is if a person is arrested, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office reviews the police report and then they determine whether formal charges should be filed. If they’re not arrested, again, the county attorney’s office also reviews the police report to determine whether formal charges should be leveled.
The next step would be for them to file a complaint within 48 hours of the arrest or the initial appearance hearing. In a situation where someone is arrested, the initial appearance generally happens 24 hours after an arrest, where you appear before the judge in jail.
They usually give them a piece of paper with a pre-file number saying that your next court date is on such-and-such date. When that person shows up at that court date and check in, the staff says their case has been scratched, that means that’s just a complaint has not been filed yet.