Just because someone has committed a crime doesn’t mean he or she will immediately be arrested or charged. Police and prosecutors do not arrest or charge people solely on a single person’s claims. Unless the police witnessed the crime, the evidence is needed to bring justice to those that have committed a crime. If you believe that someone has broken the law, it may be on you (the accuser) to act. Here’s what you need to know to file criminal charges.
The Typical Path of Arrest
In most criminal cases, the crime victim is the one who contacts the police. The police come to the scene or meet with the victim to gather further information. If the offender is still on the scene when police arrive, it could lead to an immediate arrest, but only if there is probable cause. In cases where the offender is not present on the scene, the police usually must obtain an arrest warrant. Arrest warrants are issued by a judge and are required for police to take offenders into custody. In any case, the police must have enough information to prove that the offender is guilty of the crimes he is accused of.
Determine Probable Cause
Probable cause is defined as a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and the arrestee is the one who is responsible. When it comes to filing criminal charges, probable cause is a must. The police may consider several kinds of evidence and information when determining if an arrest is needed, including:
- Statements from the accused
- Statements from witnesses
- Statements from the victim
- Video or audio evidence
- Physical evidence
With this information, police can confidently support an arrest or a request for an arrest warrant. However, this information doesn’t always lead to an arrest. Sometimes police do not arrest the offender, but instead, charge the offender with a misdemeanor or petty crime. These are just mailed to the defendant and require a court appearance to answer the causes. Without probable cause, the offender cannot be duly convicted.
Once the police arrest the accused person, the prosecutor reviews the police report and evidence to determine whether it is enough to proceed with the charges. This means that all the evidence and statements against the accused must be able to hold up in a trial. To win at trial, the prosecutor must be able to prove to the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed the crime. The preliminary hearing is primarily to ensure that the arrest of the accused is fully legal and that the evidence backs up the arrest.
The Victim’s Role
When it comes to filing criminal charges, the victim plays a vital role. Prosecutors consider the victim’s statements and level of cooperation when determining whether to pursue a case. While victims cannot force a prosecutor to take their case, they can cooperate on a level that makes the prosecutor more likely to pursue criminal charges. In some cases, a victim may want to pursue criminal charges, but the prosecutor may determine that no crime has been committed or that there is not enough evidence to stand trial. While this can often be frustrating for the victim, the prosecution makes the final decision when it comes to filing criminal charges.
Charging procedures and laws differ between federal and state court significantly. The best way to have the process explained and to help guide you through it is to hire a legal representative. Legal representatives are trained to get you through the charging process with the least amount of confusion as possible, so you can focus on what matters most and still get the justice you seek. Not only does a legal representative help you to be taken more seriously within the court system, but he or she will also provide you the advice to get you the justice you are seeking.
While sometimes criminals are caught on the spot and arrested, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes offenders get away, and it takes victims and others to file criminal charges to get justice for their crimes. If the criminal charges are carried out improperly, the offender may get away with a crime. If you believe that someone has committed a crime, it may be time to file criminal charges. Don’t let criminals get away with their crimes. Make sure you have the right tools and the help of professionals to bring you the justice that you deserve. At Torigian Law, we know how the criminal justice system works. This means that we know the information and evidence you need to have proper cause to arrest those suspected of a crime. For a consultation today, contact Torigian Law at 559-627-5399.