Felony cases begin either through the filing of a document with the court called a Complaint or through the finding of an Indictment. Both types of documents are prepared by the prosecutor's office.
A Complaint is a document which accuses the defendant of having committed a crime or crimes. It is usually signed by law enforcement personnel. However, they can also be signed by any other person who has knowledge of the facts surrounding the crime or crimes charged in the Complaint. This person is called a "complaining witness."
An Indictment is a document by which a grand jury accuses a person of having committed a crime or crimes. It is issued by the grand jury at the conclusion of a grand jury proceeding.
Nearly all cases in Nez Perce County are initiated through the Complaint process, rather than Grand Jury Indictments. This is because the Complaint process is faster, less burdensome, and far less costly to the taxpayers.