Essentially, probable cause implies two conclusions: that a crime occurred and that the suspect is the perpetrator. To file criminal charges against someone, you must have credible and admissible evidence to back up your case. Is there any photographic or videographic proof of the crime? If so, it can be used as evidence.
Criminals often use photographs to blackmail victims into keeping quiet, so this tool is useful for preventing problems with missing persons cases. Does the image show the offender? If so, can you identify them? Can they be located by searching through photo albums or social media? These are all questions that investigators should ask themselves before filing charges.
Photographs are very useful tools for police officers to obtain information about crimes that may not be readily available elsewhere. For example, an officer might take photos at a crime scene to help identify items related to the crime. Or, an officer could use photos to seek out witnesses to a crime - especially if the witness is in danger. Finally, photos can be used to apprehend suspects who have fled the scene of a crime.
Police officers should not use photography as a way to harass people, catch innocent people in wrongdoing, or make arrests without sufficient reason. The law allows citizens to film police officers performing their duties, but doing so does not give you the right to break the law yourself.
When filing charges, a victim must provide precise details about the offense to the police. The phrase "to press charges" refers to when a victim of a criminal conduct reports the crime to the police and files a police report so that the district attorney or local prosecutor can pursue the case. Crimes that can be reported to the police include misdemeanors (such as disorderly conduct) and felonies (such as assault).
The purpose of filing charges is twofold: to punish the offender and to protect others from being harmed by the offender. If there is not enough evidence to support a conviction, then charging someone with a crime is inappropriate. For example, if an eyewitness identifies another person as the one who committed the crime, then there likely won't be any reason to charge the suspect with a crime.
Filing charges also protects others from being harmed by the offender. If an offender knows that he or she will be charged with a crime, then they are less likely to repeat the behavior that got them into trouble in the first place. Also, having charges filed against you may cause the offender to change his or her lifestyle so that he or she does not get arrested for other crimes. For example, if an offender knows that he or she has been accused of assaulting someone, then he or she might avoid physical contact with the public.
Finally, filing charges allows the justice system to work properly.
The victim becomes a state witness and, unlike in civil court, has no say over whether or not to pursue or "file charges." This indicates that the state has the authority to prosecute even if the victim does not wish to be prosecuted.
In fact, victims of sexual abuse may be forced to proceed with the prosecution because the abuser can be charged with multiple crimes and will not accept any responsibility for his actions. Additionally, parents who discover their child has been sexually abused often feel compelled to report this to law enforcement.
Although the victim does not have to press charges, many do so out of concern that without further action, the offender may continue to commit similar crimes. Pressing charges also ensures that information about the incident is recorded in the police file which may be used as evidence if needed at a later date. Some victims choose to press charges as part of a settlement agreement with the abuser. In exchange for receiving money, the victim releases the accused person from criminal liability.
Finally, victims have the right to decide what role they want to play in the investigation and prosecution of their case. If they choose not to cooperate, authorities may seek an order prohibiting them from doing so. A victim who refuses to cooperate could be subject to additional charges such as obstruction of justice or coercion.
The prosecutor or district attorney will then determine whether or not to prosecute anyone with a crime. However, the prosecutor has total control over the charging decision. In fact, even if the victim does not wish to pursue charges, he or she may be obliged to attend in court and testify. If the victim decides not to proceed with the case, it is called "nolle prosequi" (no plea). In this situation, no conviction will be recorded and there is no legal punishment for the crime.
In some jurisdictions, such as California and Texas, there is also an office called "the public defender", who is usually appointed by the court to represent individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. The role of the public defender is very similar to that of a private defense attorney - they investigate the case, interview witnesses, try to find evidence that might help their client, and generally fight as hard as they can on their client's behalf.
In other words, a person can be charged with a crime but not pressed charges - this means that the person does not have to go to court or answer any questions from police officers. Sometimes this can be a good option for victims of crimes who do not want to further traumatize themselves by going through the judicial process. There are cases where people have been able to work out their differences and move on with their lives after being involved in a crime together.
Someone had perpetrated a heinous act against me. How do I go about filing charges?