How To Press Charges On Someone

How To Press Charges On Someone - What Does Press Charges Mean - Can Someone Press Charges Without Proof - How Long Does It Take To Press Charges On Someone

Wondering how to press charges on someone? 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • what pressing charges means
  • how to press charges on someone
  • how much evidence you need to press charges
  • what happens when you press charges
  • do you have to show up to court if you press charges
  • how long does it take
  • how much does it cost to press charges
  • whether you need a lawyer

Let’s dig in.

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What Does Press Charges Mean?

When someone says they want to “press charges,” they’re expressing a desire to have another person prosecuted for a crime. 

Essentially, it means that the person believes they have been wronged in a legal sense.

And they want the alleged offender to face legal consequences.

Here is an overview of what pressing charges means:

  • Initiating the Process: When someone becomes the victim of a crime, they can report it to the police. Reporting the crime typically begins the process of investigating the incident.
  • Decision by Prosecutors: While the victim can request the start of a legal process, it’s usually the prosecutor or district attorney who decides whether to formally charge someone with a crime. This decision relies on available evidence and the likelihood of obtaining a conviction.
  • The Role of the Victim: The victim plays an essential role by providing evidence, testifying, and cooperating with law enforcement. However, the final decision on whether to pursue a case lies with the legal authorities.

Read More: Is It Worth Pressing Charges For Assault

How To Press Charges On Someone

Pressing charges means formally accusing someone of a crime. 

Here’s how to press charges on someone:

  • Report the Crime: Start by reporting the incident to the local police. This is the first and most important step.
  • Provide Evidence: Give the police all the information you have, including names, dates, locations, and any evidence like photos, videos, or documents.
  • Cooperate with Authorities: Stay in touch with the police and answer any questions they might have.
  • Speak with a Prosecutor: If the police believe there’s enough evidence, they’ll refer the case to a prosecutor. This person will decide whether or not to file formal charges.
  • Testify in Court: If the prosecutor files charges and the case goes to court, you might be asked to testify as a witness.
  • Stay Informed: Keep track of the case and be aware of any updates, hearings, or decisions.

Read More: If Police Let You Go Can They Charge You Later

Can Someone Press Charges Without Proof?

Yes, someone can report a crime or “press charges” without immediate proof. 

Often, people come forward with allegations before evidence is gathered.

However, for a prosecutor to successfully convict someone in court, they need evidence to prove the accused person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Simply pressing charges doesn’t guarantee a conviction. 

The legal process involves:

  • investigating the claim
  • gathering evidence
  • determining if there’s enough proof to move forward with a trial

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Sue Someone

How Much Evidence Is Needed To Charge Someone?

When it comes to charging someone with a crime, the amount of evidence required varies based on jurisdiction and the nature of the offense. 

In general, to charge someone, law enforcement officers and prosecutors look for what is termed “probable cause.”

Probable cause means there’s a reasonable belief, based on clear facts or evidence, that a person has committed a crime. 

It doesn’t prove the person’s guilt but indicates a legitimate reason to believe they might be guilty. 

Here’s a breakdown to simplify this:

  • Gathering Evidence: Police investigate incidents or crimes to collect evidence. This might include witness statements, surveillance footage, physical evidence, or other relevant information.
  • Establishing Probable Cause: With the evidence they have, law enforcement needs to establish probable cause. This is the threshold to make an arrest or bring charges. They must believe the person likely committed the crime.
  • Presenting to the Prosecutor: After gathering evidence, law enforcement typically presents their findings to a prosecutor. The prosecutor evaluates whether there’s enough evidence to file formal charges.
  • Formal Charges: If the prosecutor believes there’s probable cause, they can file charges against the individual. This can lead to an arrest or court summons, depending on the situation.

Read More: What To Do If Someone Threatens To Kill You

What Happens When You Press Charges On Someone?

Pressing charges is a way for someone to alert the authorities that they believe a crime has been committed against them. 

Here’s a clear breakdown of what happens when you press charges:

  • Reporting the Crime: The process starts when a person tells the police about a crime. This is often called “filing a report.”
  • Police Investigation: After a report is made, the police look into the details. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, and decide if there’s enough proof to move forward.
  • Decision to Charge: It’s up to the prosecutor, not the individual, to decide if charges should be formally brought against someone. The person who reported the crime can express their wish to press charges, but the final say is with the prosecutor.
  • Court Process: If charges are filed, the accused person goes to court. The court will decide if they’re guilty and what the punishment should be.

Read More: What Happens If You Are Subpoenaed And Don’t Want To Testify?

If You Press Charges On Someone Do You Have To Go To Court?

If you press charges on someone, you may not have to go to court. 

When someone is wronged or believes they’ve been a victim of a crime, they might consider “pressing charges.” 

This means they’re reporting the incident to the police and asking them to investigate.

If you press charges on someone:

  • It’s the prosecutor’s decision to proceed. After you report a crime, it’s up to the prosecutor or district attorney’s office to decide whether to pursue the case. This decision is based on the evidence, the nature of the crime, and the likelihood of securing a conviction.
  • You might be required to testify. If the prosecutor decides to take the case to court and you are a key witness, you may be required to testify. This means you would have to attend the court proceedings and share your account of the events.
  • Court attendance isn’t always necessary. Not all cases go to trial. Many are resolved through plea agreements or other means. If this happens, you might not have to go to court.

How Long Does It Take To Press Charges On Someone?

Pressing charges can take anywhere from a few days to several months or longer.

It depends on various factors like:

  • the nature of the crime
  • the amount of evidence
  • the workload of the police and prosecutor’s office

Here’s how long each step of pressing charges takes:

  • Police Report: The process begins when someone files a police report. This step can be done immediately after an incident occurs.
  • Investigation: After receiving the report, the police may conduct an investigation. The duration of this phase varies depending on the complexity of the case. It could take anywhere from a few days to several months, or even longer.
  • Referral to Prosecutors: Once the police have gathered enough evidence, they refer the case to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor then decides whether or not to file formal charges. This decision can take a few days to a few weeks.
  • Filing of Charges: If the prosecutor decides to move forward, they will file charges against the accused person. This can be done relatively quickly, often within a day or two of the decision.

How Much Does It Cost To Press Charges?

When people talk about “pressing charges,” they often refer to initiating a criminal case against someone. 

Here’s a breakdown of the costs associated with pressing charges:

  • Filing a Police Report: Typically, it’s free to file a police report. When someone believes they’ve been a victim of a crime, they report it to the police who then investigate.
  • District Attorney’s Decision: Once the police have investigated, they might forward the case to the district attorney (DA). It’s the DA who decides whether or not to press formal charges. This doesn’t cost the victim any money.
  • Court Fees and Costs: If the defendant is charged and the case goes to court, there might be court fees. However, these costs are usually the responsibility of the defendant if they’re found guilty, not the person who reported the crime.
  • Private Attorney Costs: If a victim hires a private attorney for a related civil case or to advise them during the criminal process, there could be significant legal fees. The cost varies depending on the lawyer’s rates and the complexity of the case.
  • Restitution and Compensation: In some cases, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. This is money that the defendant must pay to cover the victim’s losses resulting from the crime. It’s not a cost for the victim, but rather compensation they receive.
  • Other Potential Costs: There could be other incidental costs for the victim, such as missed work, therapy, or medical expenses related to the crime. Some of these might be recoverable through restitution or separate civil lawsuits.

In summary, reporting a crime and having charges pressed usually doesn’t cost the victim anything. 

But, there could be indirect expenses, like hiring a private attorney or addressing the personal impacts of the crime.

Read More: How Long Does It Take To Get A Search Warrant?

FAQs About Pressing Charges On Someone

Here are other questions our clients ask about pressing charges on someone. 

Do I Need A Lawyer To Press Charges?

No, you don’t need a lawyer to press charges. Here’s how it works:

  1. You report a crime to the police.
  2. The police investigate.
  3. The district attorney decides whether to press charges.
  4. The district attorney represents the state in prosecuting the case.

However, if you want personal legal advice or consider a civil case, hiring a lawyer is a good idea.

Read More: What Does Disposed Mean In Court?

Is It Worth Pressing Charges For Assault?

Here are some things to consider to determine if it’s worth pressing charges for assault:

  • Safety First: If you fear for your safety, pressing charges can help protect you by potentially restraining the perpetrator.
  • Legal Consequences for the Assailant: Pressing charges can lead to penalties for the attacker, like jail time or fines.
  • Moral Stance: Some victims press charges to stand against violence and uphold societal values.
  • Evidence Matters: The strength of your case depends on evidence. Solid evidence increases the chances of a successful prosecution.
  • Emotional Impact: The legal process can be draining. Consider the emotional toll before deciding.
  • Potential for Restitution: Pressing charges might result in the assailant paying for your medical bills or other damages.

Read More: Can You Go To Jail At An Arraignment?

Can You Press Charges On A Minor?

Yes, you can press charges on a minor.

When a minor commits a crime, they can face legal consequences. 

However, the process is different than for adults. 

Minors typically enter the juvenile justice system, not the adult court system. 

Punishments focus more on rehabilitation than punishment. 

Examples include community service, counseling, or juvenile detention. 

Remember, the decision to press formal charges lies with the prosecutor, not the victim.

Read More: What Happens After An Indictment?

Get Help Pressing Charges

If you are trying to press charges on someone, fill out the form on this page.

Our criminal attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get your case thrown out
  • show up without enough evidence
  • lose by being ill-prepared

You deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

Our law firm can provide you with that.

Talk soon. 

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