How To Press Charges After An Assault

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Are you the victim of an assault? Maybe you know someone who is, or you’ve witnessed one take place. Either way, an assault is a serious offense in the eyes of the law, and pressing charges against an individual or group of people is an effective way to begin the process of finding justice, closure, and peace. Whether you’ve seen an assault happen or experienced it firsthand, it is extremely important to know what your options are. Here’s a look at how to press charges after an assault:

What Is Defined As “Assault?”

A lot of times you will hear the terms “assault” and “battery” used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two when it comes to specific charges that can be filed against a person. By definition, an assault occurs when one person commits actions that put another person in a situation where he or she can reasonably fear that he or she will receive battery. Battery is when a person receives bodily harm.

How To File Charges with the Police Department

When you have made the decision to file charges after an assault, you need to visit your local police department. For whatever reason, if you are not physically able to visit the police station, you may call them over the phone.

All you have to do to kickstart the process is express that you want to press charges. From there, the authorities will request follow-up information from you in order to accurately fill out the assault report. Generally, this information includes the victim’s name, the assailant’s name, both their addresses (if known), where the assault occurred, the date and time that it occurred, how it occurred, and more.

In many assault situations, the victim does not know their assailant; in this case, the authorities will simply ask for descriptions of them. Throughout this initial process, the person filing charges may need to release any information about potential witnesses, as well as details in writing.

And while your memory of the incident is pivotal, don’t let a lack of memory deter you from turning someone in for the crime. After filing the charges, remember to keep a record of the assault report, as well as maintain the integrity of any evidence you have in your possession that could help the authorities.

Keep in mind, in instances where people are assaulted but police officers were not called on the scene or did not arrive on the scene in time, people can still press charges against their assailants by following the appropriate channels. To learn more, here’s a look at how long do you have to file a police report.

The Prosecution

After police officers obtain the details that they need from the victims, they will then issue the victims copies of the reports that they filed. After that, the complaints will be taken to the prosecutor’s office where the prosecutor will look over the report to determine whether or not he or she believes there is enough information contained within the report to prosecute the assailant. If the prosecution believes that there is enough evidence to prosecute, then an arrest warrant will be issued for the assailant’s arrest from the judge. Additionally, police officers will investigate the crime further to obtain any additional evidence.

Orders of Protection

When an assault happens, some people are afraid to file charges on their assailants for fear of retribution. However, when filing assault charges, people may also seek to obtain orders of protection from the court as well, which are, essentially, restraining orders that if violated will result in the arrest of the assailant. Such orders require that the assailant not come within so many feet of the victim or any location where the victim is believed to be.

Pressing assault charges might sometimes be necessary for some people to put incidents behind them and receive a sense of closure. However, they should ensure that they follow the appropriate procedures to do so to ensure their safety and the successful convictions of their assailants.

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