ANSWERS: 1
  • Filing police reports against someone is only the beginning of a process. The eventual outcome of the report depends on the facts and specific circumstances. Either charges are filed or the matter is dismissed.

    Facts

    In theory anyone can file a police report against anyone else alleging anything. Filing a report that names a specific person and alleges criminal conduct makes the accused a suspect in police vernacular.

    Function

    Having a police complaint report filed against you is just the first step. The initial report is taken by patrol officers and they then forward the report to an investigations division where the matter is considered further.

    Considerations

    If an investigator forms the opinion that a crime has occurred, that evidence exists to prove it occurred, and that a specific person committed the act, then probable cause exists and the matter is referred to a prosecutor. Charges can then be preferred.

    Effects

    If an investigator believes probable cause exists based on the facts, and if a prosecutor to whom the complaint was referred agrees, then charges are filed and the accused person becomes subject to arrest and trial. If the investigator does not believe probable cause exists, the report and case are closed as unfounded and the matter ends. Sometimes the police and prosecutors do not agree and cases forwarded by the police are sometimes declined for prosecution. In such instances, the matter is also closed. If the police close a report as unfounded, or if a prosecutor declines to file charges on the report, the matter is closed. However, it could be re-opened if the statute of limitations has not expired and new evidence comes to light that was not available at the time the case was originally closed. Generally, this is only of concern in allegations of serious felony crimes.

    Misconceptions

    The filing of a police report against someone is only an accusation and does not mean that the person is either guilty of wrongdoing or that charges will necessarily result.

    Source:

    "Frequently Asked Questions." UC Santa Cruz Police Department.

    "Frequently Asked Questions." Morris County NJ: Office of the Prosecutor.

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