What Is The Process Of Pressing Charges?

Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

If you are accused of a crime, the police need to be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must present compelling evidence that proves that you did something wrong. What has this got to do with pressing charges? 

For there to be a case for a crime, there needs to be a victim in some cases to report it and give evidence and witnesses. The prosecutor can then take the case and the victim has pressed charges.

What Is The Process Of Pressing Charges (1)

The Case

Once the case has been brought to a prosecutor, it is then out of the person’s hands and the prosecutor takes over the whole thing. You might be called up to testify which will be viewed as evidence but you will have no power over the case when you have pressed charges. 

The projectors job is to collect evidence (see also ‘Class Evidence: Everything You Need To Know‘) and create a theory to support the claims that have been made. This case will be tried in court where there will be a verdict at the end of it. 

How Is It Different To A Civil Suit 

A civil suit is different because you do not have a projector taking your case. This is where the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did something to them or injured them in court. If it can be deemed true by the court, the plaintiff will recover monetary damages. 

How To Press Charges 

If someone wishes to press charges on someone else they must report the incident. This means going to the police and explaining the whole situation in as much detail they possibly can. 

It is up to the prosecutor whether they want to take the case and whether it has enough evidence to win. You will find in many cases that they will not be brought to trial or have any arrests because it simply cannot be won because there is not enough evidence to support it. 

If the prosecutor thinks that a law has been broken by the evidence put in front of them, they can choose to take the case whether the victim wanted them to or not.

This is because a law has been broken against the victim and the states laws which means they should still be taken to trial due to their behavior. 

This tends to be very common in domestic violence situations where the partner is most likely not going to want to charge their other half but the prosecutor will. This is especially common when that person decides to stay in the relationship after the abuse. 

Official Meaning 

This term tends to be thrown around a lot on TV and in the media but what does it actually mean? To press charges means to bring justice to someone who has been subjected to a crime. It also means putting it all in motion and starting to act on the accusation in courts. 

If you don’t have any or enough evidence, you will not be able to press charges against anyone because it has to be proved in a courtroom. 

Can Anyone Press Charges? 

The individual making the accusation is not able to press charges themselves but they are able to report the incident to the police. This does not mean that any arrests will be made straight away because they will need to find and collect evidence before pressing charges. 

If the police are there and can witness a crime, they are able to make an arrest because they have the evidence from being at the scene. 

As the individual that is accusing someone, the evidence you can offer can also help including your testimony in court against them. However, it is the prosecutor that will determine what charges will be pressed and whether they should be pressed at all. 

What Is The Process Of Pressing Charges (1)

How Charges Will Be Made

The different types of charges that will be pressed all depends on what evidence is brought before the prosecutor by the police and the victim. This is then the prosecutor’s job to determine what the appropriate charges are for the individual from the evidence they have. 

It also has to be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt which is why it is important to press the correct charges which match the exact crime they think the person committed. 


It all depends on the situation, who is there at the time, what evidence they have left behind, camera footage and many more options.

If the person who has committed the crime is still at the scene when the officers arrive, they could be arrested immediately depending on what the situation is. 

There also has to be probable cause which can consist of many different things. Here are a few examples! 

  • If there is a witness on the scene that is able to give their testimony of what happened against the crime. 
  • Testimony from the victim is very helpful because if it is the same as the eye witnesses, the story matches well. 
  • What has been left at the crime? People tend to mess up in burglaries and tend to leave evidence which can convict them. 
  • Injuries on the victim which show that a crime has been committed. 
  • Anything that was filmed or whether there were photos taken at the scene will also be handed into evidence. 

How Long Can It Take? 

The duration it can take to actually press any charges can vary depending on the amount of evidence given to the prosecutor. They need to go through it all and determine whether there is enough or anything good enough to prove at a trial. 

If the prosecutor decides to take the case, there is still the grand jury (see also ‘A Hung Jury: What Does It Mean And What Happens?‘) which needs to be informed of the evidence and whether it will be taken forward after that stage too. This is not in all cases, but it can take a bit of time to actually get to the charges part. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Pressing Charges Cost Money?

Yes! It does cost money in some ways to press charges because the prosecutors are paid by the state which comes out of taxpayers money. Therefore, it is important that every case is reviewed to see whether it has enough evidence to win because it can cost a lot of money.

What Does It Mean When You Press Charges?

Pressing charges means to accuse someone of a crime that has happened to either you or another person. You must be able to have sufficient evidence or the police need to be able to find evidence to be able to take the case forward to a prosecutor. 


Overall, if you’re looking to press charges against anyone you need to go through this process. It is not actually you pressing any charges, your job is to report it and give as much detail as you possibly can to the police so this information can be used in the evidence.

The list above will show you exactly the type of evidence that would be needed to use in the trial which would make the case much easier to win. 

This guide is here to give you all of the relevant information concerning the process of actually pressing charges and what you need to know if you need to.

It is not always a simple situation and it might take quite a bit of time because there are thousands of cases everyday but the evidence you are able to get and provide is the most easy to get the result you want quicker.

If they know it is a winning case, it will definitely be taken forward.