A felony charge can be initiated by a complaint or an indictment. A prosecutor files a direct complaint in court, citing which crimes were allegedly committed. An indictment is issued by a grand jury, which determines from evidence presented by a prosecutor that a crime was committed and the suspect should stand trial on the allegations. Both a direct complaint and indictment define the alleged crimes and cite the date of offense and which laws were violated.
A misdemeanor charge can be initiated by a citation or by a long form complaint. A police officer can issue a citation for the crimes allegedly committed. A prosecutor can file a long form complaint based on information received from a law enforcement agency that a crime has been committed. Both a citation and long form complaint define the alleged crimes and cite the date of offense and which laws were violated.
The defendant is notified when criminally charged and informed when to appear for the next court date. A judge can issue an arrest warrant if information is presented which indicates that the person did not appear voluntarily in court at the scheduled date and time.