A felony referral to the District Attorney's (DA) Office occurs when law enforcement presents an individual suspected of a felony crime to review for potential charges, generally following an arrest. This section presents data on felony cases referred by law enforcement agencies to the DA’s Office for review. The DA’s Office decides whether to file charges – a formal accusation that a specific person has committed a specific crime – based on the evidence and reasonable likelihood of conviction.
Why is this important? The DA’s Office makes decisions based on the cases they receive from law enforcement; they are not responsible for arresting or citing individuals. The office may decide not to file a case for a number of reasons, such as acceptance into a pre-charge diversion program, insufficient evidence/investigation by law enforcement, or when the charges did not rise to the level of a crime.
How is Boulder Different in Felony Referrals? Due to differences in practice, most information on felony referrals is not available. The Boulder County District Attorney's Office reviews all arrest warrants before they are submitted to a judge. This process is done prior to a case being filed by a law enforcement agency and thus the statistics are not tracked in the case management system. If a Deputy DA (DDA) determined, based on the arrest warrant, that charges should not be filed, or that only misdemeanor charges should be filed, this decision is not tracked in the case management system. The Boulder County DA's Office does not have a felony intake unit, but rather believes in the importance of vertical prosecutions (a system where, as much as possible, one DDA handles the case from start to finish). The data that we do have related to felony referrals is included below.
The below indicator provides additional context about felony referrals. This helps the DA's Office ensure they maximize government resources by making strategic decisions about which cases to accept for prosecution.
As noted above, the Boulder County DA's Office is unable to track all felony declinations or all felony referrals that only result in misdemeanor charges. The above graph is, however, able to capture felony probable cause arrests and felony summonses that only result in misdemeanor charges.
Regarding the Percent of Felony Filings Disposed as Misdemeanors, we believe felony dispositions should be reserved for violent, serious, and repeat offenders.
- Underlying data counts for each chart can be accessed through this link.
- Each referral is represented once.
- Warrants are excluded (for all cases identified as a warrant).
- Misdemeanor cases are directly charged and filed by the law enforcement agency; the DA does not review these cases for charging. The DA’s Office can dismiss misdemeanor cases (see Case Resolution dashboard).
- Law enforcement arrests and charges are based on a probable cause standard of proof, whereas the DA’s Office charges based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt.