What Happens When You Press Charges?

What Happens When You Press Charges - How Much Does It Cost To Press Charges - How Long Does It Take To Press Charges On Someone

What happens when you press charges? 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • what happens when you press charges
  • how much it costs to press charges
  • how long it takes to press charges on someone
  • how long you have to press charges on someone
  • whether you can press charges without proof

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

The Hive Law Has Been Featured In

Get A FREE Consultation!

We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)

What Happens When You Press Charges?

Pressing charges refers to the process of formally accusing someone of committing a crime. 

Here’s what generally happens when you decide to press charges:

  • Filing a Report: To press charges, you start by reporting the alleged crime to the police. They will document your statement and gather evidence.
  • Investigation: The police investigate the case, collect evidence, interview witnesses, and may arrest the suspect if there is enough evidence.
  • Charging Decision: The prosecutor, not you, decides whether to file formal charges against the suspect. They evaluate the evidence and legal aspects of the case.
  • Arrest Warrant or Summons: If charges are filed, the court issues either an arrest warrant (for serious crimes) or a summons (for less serious offenses) to bring the suspect to court.
  • Booking and Bail: If arrested, the suspect is booked, and bail may be set. The suspect may remain in custody until a bail hearing.
  • Arraignment: The suspect is brought before a judge for an arraignment. They are informed of the charges and asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
  • Pretrial Proceedings: Both sides gather evidence, negotiate plea deals, and prepare for trial. This may include discovery, hearings, and motions.
  • Trial: If the case doesn’t settle, it goes to trial. You may be called as a witness to testify about the alleged crime.
  • Verdict: The judge or jury delivers a verdict. If the suspect is found guilty, they are sentenced. If not, they are acquitted.
  • Sentencing: If convicted, the court imposes a sentence, which may include fines, probation, or imprisonment.

Read More: Can Charges Be Dropped At An Arraignment Hearing

How Much Does It Cost To Press Charges?

The cost of pressing charges generally depends on the jurisdiction and the nature of the crime. 

Filing a police report is usually free, but pursuing a criminal case through the legal system can involve expenses, such as 

  • court filing fees
  • attorney fees
  • expert witness fees 
  • victim services and support fees 

These costs can vary widely and may be influenced by:

  • the severity of the alleged crime
  • the complexity of the case
  • the prosecutor’s office decides to pursue charges on behalf of the state 

In some cases, crime victims may be eligible for financial assistance or support from victim services organizations to help cover some of these costs.

Read More: What Happens If Charges Are Dropped Before Court

How Long Does It Take To Press Charges On Someone?

“Pressing charges” refers to the act of formally accusing someone of committing a crime. 

The time it takes to press charges on someone can vary based on several factors.

The decision to press charges on someone is typically made by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, not by the victim.

 The time it takes to press charges varies depending on the complexity of the case, available evidence, and the workload of law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. 

In straightforward cases with clear evidence, charges may be filed within a few days to a few weeks. 

However, more complex cases can take several months or even years to result in formal charges.

(i.e., , cases requiring extensive investigations or involving multiple parties) 

Victims usually report crimes to the police. 

However, the decision to press charges and the timing of it are determined by the legal authorities involved in the case.

Read More: Is It Worth Pressing Charges For Assault

How Long Do You Have To Press Charges?

When it comes to pressing charges in a legal context, there is a specific time frame known as the statute of limitations

A statute of limitations is a legal time limit that sets the maximum period during which a person can initiate legal proceedings, such as pressing criminal charges.

The duration of this time frame varies depending on the nature of the offense and the jurisdiction.

In some cases, there may be no statute of limitations.

Meanwhile, for others, it could be as short as a few years. 

Once the statute of limitations expires, the right to bring a legal action is generally lost.

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Sue Someone

Can You Press Charges After 24 Hours?

Yes, you can press charges after 24 hours have passed. 

For certain crimes, such as minor misdemeanors or civil claims, there may be relatively short statutes of limitations. 

Charges might need to be filed promptly. 

For more serious crimes, such as felonies, there might be longer or no statutes of limitations. 

This means charges can potentially be filed even years after the alleged offense.

Read More: Can You Tell Cops To Get Off Your Property

Can Someone Press Charges Without Proof?

Yes, you can try to press charges without proof. 

However, bringing criminal charges against someone typically requires evidence to support the accusation.

In most criminal cases, charges cannot be pressed without some form of evidence. 

Prosecutors typically need sufficient evidence to support the accusations and meet the burden of proof required in court. 

Evidence is crucial in establishing a case against a person accused of a crime.

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

FAQS About Pressing Charges

Here are other questions clients ask us about pressing charges. 

Do I Need A Lawyer To Press Charges?

No, you do not need a lawyer to press charges on someone. 

Pressing charges involves formally accusing someone of committing a crime.

In most cases, you don’t need a lawyer to press charges. 

You can contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff’s department) to report a crime. 

They will conduct an investigation and, if necessary, work with the prosecutor’s office to file charges. 

However, having a lawyer can be helpful if you want 

  • legal advice, 
  • assistance with the process, or 
  • if you plan to file a civil lawsuit related to the incident 

In some situations, a prosecutor may also decide to pursue charges without the direct involvement of the victim.

Read More: Indictments vs Arrests

Is It Worth Pressing Charges For Assault?

Yes, it can be worth pressing charges for assault

Whether you want to press charges for assault can depend on several factors, like the severity of the assault, your safety, and your desire for legal action.

Let’s say that:

  • you’ve been physically harmed or threatened
  • you believe that pressing charges can help protect you or others

Then it’s likely worth pressing charges for assault. 

To press charges for assault, follow these steps:

  • Contact Law Enforcement: If you’ve been assaulted or threatened, the first step is to contact your local law enforcement agency (typically the police) immediately. You can do this by calling 911 or visiting the nearest police station. Report the incident and provide details of what happened.
  • Provide Information: When speaking to the police, provide as much information as possible about the assault, including the date, time, location, description of the assailant(s), and any witnesses. If you have any evidence, such as photographs, videos, or medical records, share them with the police.
  • Cooperate with the Investigation: Law enforcement will conduct an investigation based on the information you provide. Cooperate fully with their inquiries, answer their questions truthfully, and provide any additional information they request.
  • Seek Medical Attention: If you’ve been physically injured during the assault, seek medical attention promptly. Document your injuries, and ask healthcare professionals for copies of medical reports or records, as these can be important evidence in the case.
  • Contact the Prosecutor’s Office: In some jurisdictions, you may need to contact the prosecutor’s office to formally request charges. They will review the evidence and determine whether to file charges against the assailant.
  • Consider a Restraining Order: If you fear for your safety or believe there is a risk of further harm, you may consider obtaining a restraining order (also known as a protection order or no-contact order) against the assailant. This legal document can help protect you from contact or proximity to the person who assaulted you.

Read More: Can Police Bring You In For Questioning Without A Warrant

Can You Press Charges After Saying No?

Yes, you can still press charges after you told the police that you don’t want to. 

Let’s say you initially choose not to report a crime or press charges but later change your mind.

You can still report the crime to law enforcement. 

They will assess the information you provide and decide whether to investigate and potentially bring charges based on the available evidence and the law.

Read More: Does Indictment Mean Jail Time?

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

Let’s say you are the person who initiated criminal charges by filing a police report or a complaint.

You typically have the right to decide whether or not you want to cooperate with the prosecution and testify in court. 

If you press charges against someone, you may need to go to court.

It depends on several factors, including the 

  • nature of the charges, 
  • the legal process, and 
  • whether you are required as a witness. 

In many cases, the prosecution handles court proceedings, and as the complainant, you might be asked to testify as a witness. 

However, not all cases go to trial, and some may be resolved through negotiations or dismissed before reaching court.

Read More: What Does Disposed Mean In Court?

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.

Get A FREE Consultation!

We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)

Share This Post With Someone Who Needs To See It