How to Write an Official Case File

By Stephanie Reid
Police are responsible for keeping criminal records in detailed case files.

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Criminal case files are prepared by law enforcement and serve to provide records for the community regarding instances of criminal conduct, charges filed, fines assessed and details as to the facts of the events surrounding the crime. Case files are kept in storage and kept indefinitely. Writing a case file requires personal knowledge of the crime committed as well as any information regarding verdicts, convictions and sentencing.

Include basic identifying information about the defendant. A case file must begin with the defendant's full legal name. It is wise to include alias information, maiden and former names as well. Be sure to include any suffix or prefix and make certain of the correct spelling. Correct transcription of the defendant's name is very important in subsequent searches for the file. Also identify the defendant's Social Security number and date of birth.

Include identifying information about any attorneys having appeared on behalf of the defendant throughout the course of the case. Be sure to check whether the defendant started with one attorney and switched to a different attorney at some point. Also, it is helpful to list any appellate attorneys used in the case. The file should set forth the contact information for each attorney and the date of entry into the case. If any attorney had to withdraw for any reason, include the date of withdrawal in the case file as well.

Include a detailed list of all important documents filed in the court for purpose of the criminal case. This includes all motions, orders, verdicts, findings, judgments, sentences, pleas and briefs. Also, most states require proof of service of process of all documents and an affidavit to this effect should have been filed with each document. Summary details of all service of process procedures should be listed with each filed document.

List summary details of every oral argument and hearing that took place in the case. This includes motion hearings, oral arguments relating to suppression or exclusion of evidence and interlocutory appeals. It will be sufficient to list the date, location and courtroom where these proceedings took place. List the disposition of each hearing as well. List all evidentiary exhibits presented to the court during proceedings as well.

Include any other details unique to the case. If the defendant is serving a life sentence or a long prison sentence, the case file should include information as to where he is incarcerated. If he is serving his sentence upon death row or has been executed, this information must be included in the case file as well. Information as to the victims may be included if necessary.

About the Author

Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.

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