Having charges pressed against you can be a frightening experience, but amid all this confusion and frustration, you need to know what to do. The police officers involved in the case may come hard after you, trying to intimidate you into confessing.
The prosecutor may try to convince you that a conviction is unavoidable to make you take an unfair plea deal. That’s why you need the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.
Remember that being charged with a crime isn’t the same as being convicted. For example, a prosecutor may bring theft charges against you, but only the judge can decide if you’re guilty or innocent. Learn and understand your rights, the court process, and legal options if someone presses charges against you.
What Does It Mean to Press Charges Against Someone?
When someone presses charges against you, you’ll face prosecution for a suspected criminal case. The victim of the crime isn’t responsible for pressing charges, but they must file a police report about the crime they claim you committed against them. That information forms the basis for the prosecutor to press charges against you, with the victim’s statement providing critical testimony for the case.
Pressing charges is different from suing in a civil court. In the former case, the victim doesn’t benefit from monetary gains due to the case’s outcome. The issue is out of the victim’s hands and depends on the prosecutor. In a civil suit, the plaintiff recovers monetary damages if he can prove the elements of the claims in the case.
Who Can Press Charges Against Me?
Despite what you may have seen on your entertainment screens, a private citizen can’t “press charges against you.” The United States doesn’t provide an avenue for private prosecutions; only the public law enforcement system can criminally charge a person.
However, a private citizen can collaborate with law enforcement officers to provide physical evidence and critical testimony against you. Once the law enforcement officers have enough evidence, they can file criminal charges against you in the appropriate court. Don’t face the prosecution alone but let a Los Angeles criminal investigation attorney create a solid defense case for you.
Can a Police Officer Decide to Press Charges Against Me?
The police offices don’t press charges against you, but they file a report of their own. The information determines whether or not the prosecutor will press charges against you.
How Does a Prosecutor Decide to Press Charges Against Me?
The prosecutor begins by reviewing the evidence in the report filed by the police about the alleged crime and the complaint itself. The prosecutor then evaluates the strength of the case to determine whether prosecuting the case is appropriate concerning public resources. In other words, a prosecutor may not press charges if they believe it’s unlikely to result in a conviction.
The decision also depends on relevant laws and legal precedents, the expected level of cooperation from witnesses and victims, and your previous criminal history. If the prosecutor decides to press charges against you, they’ll present the evidence they have gathered to the grand jury. The grand jury hears the prosecutor’s case against you and decides if the evidence supports the criminal charges. The decision doesn’t determine if you’re guilty or not.
Can the Prosecutor Refuse to Press Charges Against Me?
After assessing the evidence presented, a prosecutor may decide it’s not enough to put forward a case. They may also determine that it’s better to direct their resources on weightier matters, hence not press charges against you.
For example, if the prosecutor has more severe crimes on their table, they may focus their resources on those cases. These include homicide and violent crimes instead of spending resources on minor fraud charges.
The plaintiff can’t force the prosecutor to press charges against you if they decide against it. However, their decision is not final because the public can put them under pressure to press charges. In that case, they can re-review the claim and present it to the grand jury to be sure they decided right.
How Long Does Someone Have to Press Charges Against Me?
The statute of limitations on the specific charges determines how long the charges can be pressed after the incident. The period could be between one year or two for minor offenses, while the time limit for severe crimes could be decades. Some serious crimes have no limit at all. But if this period has elapsed and you’re still charged, you need the help of a Los Angeles criminal investigation attorney to fight the charge.
If you’ve already been arrested and taken to police custody, the prosecutor must file charges within 48 to 72 hours of the arrest. If you’re not under arrest, the prosecutor could file the claim in days, weeks, or months. The prosecutor can amend or drop some or all of the charges later.
Can I Be Jailed if Someone Presses Charges Against Me?
The police won’t always arrest someone and take them to jail when a criminal report is filed against them or the prosecutor chooses to press charges.
Whether the police take you to jail or not before trial depends on how much the police consider you a threat in your likelihood to:
- Run away
- Influence or threaten the witnesses or victims (an additional offense of committing further crimes)
- Commit additional crimes
The decision also depends on the charges and criminal history. A Los Angeles criminal charges lawyer can help you understand your risk and available legal options.
Skilled Legal Guidance When Facing Charges in Los Angeles
If someone files a criminal charge against you, it can jolt you into confusion and panic. The prosecutor can decide to press charges against you, and the consequences can alter your life forever, even if the offense is a lower-level misdemeanor. That’s why you must create an aggressive defense strategy to help you avoid a conviction entirely.
Don’t walk this journey alone if you want a favorable outcome. Talk to a criminal charges attorney in Los Angeles for legal counsel. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.