The Lawyers.com Law Forums will be shutting down on June 30, 2017. We encourage you to resolve any outstanding discussions prior to that time. If you have any questions about this change, please email info@martindale.com.

Can police officers file for charges in court?

Previous | Next
 rated by 0 users
Latest post Wed, Dec 10 2014 10:49 AM by criminal-defense-network. 25 replies.
  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 12:21 PM

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Can police officers file for charges in court?

    State: CA

     

    I'm currently taking a criminal justice course, and I'm torn on a few questions.

     

    I had originally thought that only the prosecuter ONLY can file for a criminal complaint in court. but this website says otherwise....It says that police officers can also press charges.

     

    "Police, as well as private persons, can also present evidence and arguments to a court in misdemeanor and petty crime cases, without a prosecutor being involved. Police officers almost always prosecute traffic cases for speeding or other minor traffic infractions. Police officers and animal control officers also can prosecute minor offenses such as trespassing, minor in possession of alcohol, and failure to keep an animal on a leash."

     

    Source: http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/criminal-offense/pressing-charges-a-criminal-act.htm

     

    So, If someone were to assault someone in public, a police officer could just submit an affidavid and file for criminal charges in court without the knowledge of the prosecuter?

     

    Thanks!

  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 2:06 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Mont46:
    I had originally thought that only the prosecuter ONLY can file for a criminal complaint in court. but this website says otherwise....It says that police officers can also press charges.

    That depends very much on the law of the applicable jursidication, and you didn't mention the jurisdiction. In some states for minor offenses the police, and perhaps other enforcement officials like animal control officers, may file the charges and might also be the one representing the state in the hearing (i.e. no prosecutor appears). In other states, a prosecutor is the exclusive person allowed to bring any kind of criminal charge or represent the state in any criminal proceeding. We have the federal government, 50 states, DC, and several territories and possessions in this country, and the process used for criminal prosecutions varies in each one. 

  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 2:17 PM In reply to

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    The course is based on California's jurisdiction. I guess it would be specific in the L.A. suburban area, but I don't think that would make a difference..

    Thanks

  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 2:32 PM In reply to


    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    In CA, cops make reports and have no power to "file" criminal charges outside of traffic offenses and a few other infractions that are handled by citation and heard by the traffic commissioners.  DA's (or city attorneys in some cities), decide whether or not to file misdemeanor or felony charges.  Cops do appear without a prosecutor in traffic court  but they aren't prosecuting--they're solely there as witnesses.

  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 3:04 PM In reply to

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Got it- Thanks

     

    And I'm guessing that the same goes for juvenile cases, right? In the sense that law enforcement cannot file.

  • Thu, Nov 27 2014 7:58 PM In reply to


    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Juvenile cases in CA are a whole different system.  Cops can handle it within their department informally or they can send the kid home to his/her parents and send their report to probation.  Cops can also just take the kid into custody and the report to probation.  If the report gets to probation, they can then choose to handle the matter informally or prepare a petition and send it with the police report to the DA who then files charges.  It's really more complicated than I just explained but you get the gist of the process.

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 1:51 PM In reply to

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    I see. 

     

    Can individual civilians file these "petitions" in juvenile court or can only the DA/probation people do that?

     

     

    thanks, Gemini

     

    Mont.

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 2:16 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Civilians generally only report stuff to the appropriate authorities and then the appropriate authorities decide what to do next.

    However, there are occasions when a civilian may choose to detain somebody who is in the process of committing a crime if that civilian is protecting his home, self, family, others from serious harm. Beyond that it's safer to be a witness rather than confront a perpetrator.

     

     

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 2:23 PM In reply to

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Thanks jack,

     

    I did a bit of research on my own, and it seems like only a few states, like Penn/Mass, etc allow individuals to file charges directly to the court in ADULT matters...

    However, I'm curious if California allows civilians to do the same in regard to juvenile courts...

     

    I did a bit of research through the forums here and I found out that California is not a jurisdiction that allows individuals to file charges, but I'm not sure if it's the same in regard to juvenile law.

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 3:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Mont46:

    I did a bit of research through the forums here and I found out that California is not a jurisdiction that allows individuals to file charges, but I'm not sure if it's the same in regard to juvenile law.

    Depends on what you mean by "file charges" as opposed to "reporting crimes." If you go into a police station and say "Joe stole my car" and the police officer fills out a report, you sign it, and the officer goes out and arrests Joe, have you filed charges or have you reported a crime.

    And why a distinction between adult and juvenile law?

    Seems to me that the same process would apply to both.

    Mont46:
    a few states, like Penn/Mass, etc allow individuals to file charges directly to the court in ADULT matters...

    Again, I think you are missing the distinction between filing charges and reporting a crime. Even in Pennsylvania you don't actually "file charges", you file a "private criminal complaint."

    According to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 506 Approval of Private Complaints:

    (A) When the affiant is not a law enforcement officer, the complaint shall be submitted to an attorney for the Commonwealth, who shall approve or disapprove it without unreasonable delay.

    (B) If the attorney for the Commonwealth: 1. approves the complaint, the attorney shall indicate this decision on the complaint form and transmit it to the issuing authority; 2. disapproves the complaint, the attorney shall state the reasons on the complaint form and return it to the affiant. Thereafter, the affiant may petition the court of common pleas for review of the decision.

    http://www.lccpa.org/pathfinder/PrivateCriminalComplaintPathfinder.pdf

    I realize it's a semantic difference but civilians don't actually "file charges", the authorities do.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 3:28 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    adjuster jack:

    And why a distinction between adult and juvenile law?

    Seems to me that the same process would apply to both.

    They don't share the same procedures. If they did, there would be no need for a separate juvenile court system in the first place. 

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 4:42 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Taxagent:

    adjuster jack:

    And why a distinction between adult and juvenile law?

    Seems to me that the same process would apply to both.

    They don't share the same procedures. If they did, there would be no need for a separate juvenile court system in the first place. 

    I was referring to just reporting crimes.

    I realize this is overly simplified but I think the reporting process would be the same whether a juvenile or adult broke into my house or I witnessed either one committing a crime.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 4:53 PM In reply to

    • Mont46
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 27 2014
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Sorry for the elementary question. I understand that reporting the crime is probably the same, but I just wanted to know whether there was a difference in regard to whether or not individuals can go beyond simply reporting simply to the police, and the police taking it from there.

     

    My professor did mention that a few states allow for individuals to file criminal complaints in court (beyond simply reporting a crime to the police).

     

    I just want to make sure that in California, individual parties cannot do this in regard to juvenile law.

     

    I'm almost positive that my instructor will ask something like this in the future (he throws curve balls a lot).

     

    I'll restate my original question if it'll make things simpler:

     

    "I did a bit of research through the forums here and I found out that California is not a jurisdiction that allows individuals to file charges, but I'm not sure if it's the same in regard to juvenile law."

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 5:58 PM In reply to


    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Mont46:
    I just want to make sure that in California, individual parties cannot do this in regard to juvenile law.

    They absolutely cannot.

  • Fri, Nov 28 2014 6:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Can police officers file for charges in court?

    Mont46:

    My professor did mention that a few states allow for individuals to file criminal complaints in court (beyond simply reporting a crime to the police).

    I think the difference between filing criminal complaints and filing charges is beginning to dawn on you.

    Even where individuals may file criminal complaints in court the judge would still have to find merit in the complaint before having anybody arrested and prosecuted. The arrest and prosecution would involve the filing of charges. The criminal complaint, by itself, would not.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
Page 1 of 2 (26 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS

My Community

Community Membership Search Community