You may be charged if you or your loved one have been involved in a crime, even if you are innocent. The charge does not arise from a person who complained against you, but their testimony will be used to determine whether there is probable cause.
If you are suspicious that someone has pressed charges against you and don’t know what to do, this article can help you. Let’s know how to tell if someone pressed charges against you.
How Do You Know If Someone Pressed Charges Against You?
There are multiple ways to know whether there are any pending charges against you. Below are a few of the best ways to find out:
The police contact you
If you have been charged with a crime, the police may visit you, call you, or leave a card at your door. Even though this doesn’t automatically mean charges are pending against you, it is usually because they believe you are a suspect.
Also, know more if you are stopped by police in Canada
Calling the court
If you believe someone has pressed charges against you, you can either wait for a court summons to arrive or call the courts to check whether there are any court dates or pending cases against you.
You can also call the police to see if they have a warrant against you. But remember that the police are not obligated to inform you.
The police have a search warrant against you
Usually, you are protected by the law against unreasonable searches, but if the police have a warrant to search your home or your person, it is safe to assume that they see you as a suspect.
A judge will only grant the police a search warrant if they can provide probable cause. These are signs that charges have been pressed against you.
Getting a copy of the police report
Most police records are public documents, and the accused have the right to see the police reports. You can contact the police or the prosecutor and ask for a copy of the police report.
The police report will contain the nature of the incident, date, time, and place, names of the parties involved, and a reference number.
The report will also mention whether or not you have been charged with a crime and include personal information on the person who pressed charges against you, but this may be redacted to protect their privacy.
The police may talk to your friend and family
If the police are in your neighborhood, talking to friends and family usually means you are under suspicion, and the police are trying to gather further evidence about you. This could be the early stages of the case against you and can often lead to nothing.
You are arrested
Most people who are arrested are soon charged with a crime. They are brought before the court to determine whether the evidence against the person is sufficient to charge them. The accused can often be arrested and not charged as the police may be looking for the final piece of evidence, such as a confession.
Remember that you have rights and cannot be held in jail without charge for longer than 24 hours in Canada.
If you have been arrested, you must contact an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and have the best chance to fight the case.
What Does It Mean When Someone Presses Charges?
Pressing charges against someone refers to prosecuting a criminal case against a suspect. A prosecutor does it rather than the victim.
While the victim is not responsible for pressing charges, they need to file a police report against the person who committed the crime so that the prosecution can press charges. The report will act as key testimony.
In the event of suing someone, you will usually have to organize and pay for the prosecution and also may gain financially from it. However, the prosecution takes the burden when someone has committed a crime. You can get financial compensation as part of a plea bargain but for a lower charge.
Who Can Press Charges?
If someone accuses you of a crime, they cannot press charges. However, they can file a police report against you.
Yet, the police cannot file charges against you. Instead, they can only file a report where they gather all relevant evidence, including testimony from the complainant.
The report is then sent to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor then decides whether or not to press charges.
How Does the Prosecution Decide to Press Charges?
The prosecutor reviews all the evidence, the complaint itself, and any police reports of the crime before deciding to press charges. The prosecutor then reviews the case’s strength and whether pursuing the case is the right use of public resources.
Unless the prosecution believes that pressing charges will result in a conviction, they may decide not to do it. The prosecutor also considers relevant local laws and legal precedents, the criminal history of the suspect, and the level of cooperation they can get from victims and witnesses.
The prosecution usually has a limited amount of resources to allocate in cases. If the prosecution focuses on serious crimes such as violent crimes and murder, they might decide not to spend their resources on minor offences.
What If the Prosecutor Refuses to Press Charges?
If there is insufficient evidence to pursue a case or they choose to focus their limited resources on other cases, the prosecutor can decide not to press charges. A prosecutor cannot be forced if they choose not to press a charge.
However, their decision is not final. The prosecutor may re-review it later or put the case to the superior courts to ensure the right decision is made. They can decide to pursue the case at any point as long as it is within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitation is the time limit the prosecutor has to press charges. The period depends on the type of crime that took place. Once the time limit has expired, the accused can file a motion to dismiss the case, and judges must accept it.
This is usually the path taken by many accused if they are not charged, but if they feel the need to clear their name, they can try to defend themselves in court.
If you suspect someone has pressed charges against you, the best thing to do is contact the police and ask for a police report or call the courts to check whether there is a court date. If you find that you have been charged with a crime, you must contact a criminal lawyer immediately.
Only an experienced criminal lawyer can properly fight for your rights and get the desired outcome for you in this situation. Remember that trying to coerce someone from dropping charges against you can only lead to further trouble.