What Is A Criminal Charge?

Wikipedia defines a criminal charge as a formal accusation made by a governmental authority asserting that somebody has committed a crime. A charging document, which contains one or more criminal charges or counts, can take several forms, including: complaint.

Basically, a charge is something the prosecuting attorney files that details what crime you are accused of. The charging document formally starts the criminal case against a person. You cannot be convicted of a crime unless you have first been charged with a crime. A conviction is any finding of guilt whether by guilty plea, trial verdict, or failed pre-trial disposition. Convictions get reported to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) from the court where you were convicted. Courts don’t report dismissed charges to WSP. Traffic tickets and infractions are not reported to WSP, so WSP doesn’t report them to the FBI for inclusion in NCIC.

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