Most criminal offenses are charged with law enforcement involvement. This could be a police officer or other agencies. One particular way that is standard in many instances if for the law enforcement officer to directly observe the criminal act being committed.
This is not an uncommon occurrence as many police are available in and out of uniform to see these illegal acts. Another frequent manner in which crimes may be charged is through the report of a citizen to police. These officers then travel to the area to investigate, and charges are often the outcome when offenses have been registered.
A common misconception is that a private party may press charges against someone when he or she has violated the law. The person that reports these offenses does not have the final say in most criminal charges issued. In most instances, the government, police or other entities are the only permitted organizations that may charge a person with crimes committed. Though a person may recant his or her statement and want to drop the charges, this individual may do so by contacting police or the district lawyers. However, it is then up to these law enforcement agencies to allow the concerns to be resolved in this manner. The need to drop charges against someone is common in domestic disputes. It is not rare to have someone call saying that he or she made the story up about being abused. However, an investigation may still occur. This is especially important when injuries have been reported or documented in a hospital.
Time to Charge
For many crimes, there is a statute of limitations that prohibits filing criminal charges after a certain point in time. This means there is only so much time a crime may be charged against a person. A statute of limitations is a written law that is passed through a legislative body into what is used for common law systems that restricts the maximum time limit an issue may have legal proceedings started. After this time frame has been exceeded according to the statute of limitation, the claim against the accused individuals is no longer valid even if filed. This means an investigation could be completed by law enforcement, but charges against someone cannot be properly accomplished if this time restriction has passed.
In order for law enforcement agencies to arrest a person, he or she must have probable cause to do so. This means there is a reasonable belief that the crime was committed and perpetrated by the person suspected. When lesser crimes have been committed such as traffic violations, misdemeanors and related issues, police officers often issue the suspected person a summons or citation that appearance in court is needed. No arrest is necessary for these instances. A court approved file that compels someone to appear at court is considered a summons. The person should attend or face possible penalties to include a warrant for arrest.
Issue of Warrant
Certain circumstances allow for police officers to issue a warrant. When evidence is discovered that follows up an examination, law enforcement may find probable cause existed previously but was unknown when the criminal activity first occurred. This often allows for a warrant to be issued at a later time than the initial investigation. If the suspect’s location is unknown, a warrant may also be issued. Some situations may arise that because a person’s arrest such as when a warrant has been issued but the individual is unaware of the concern and has been stopped for a routine reason.
Nonissue of a Warrant
There are other situations that may arise that allow law enforcement to arrest a person in the absence of a warrant. If probable cause exists associated with a person that is believed to have committed a crime, he or she may be arrested when no warrant has been issued in some circumstances. In many of these instances, an affidavit is created to justify the actions of police that explains or creates a foundation for probable cause grounds. This person arrested goes through the standard treatment that includes fingerprinting, photos taken, being booked and the possibility of bail bond postings. All of these actions may occur prior to judges reviewing the affidavit for probable cause.
Contesting Probable Cause
There are instances where a suspect is arrested but the charges are contested. This could occur through a judge not signing off on the probable cause warrant which leads to the arrest being dismissed. Preliminary hearings may also provide a means to refute these actions. With the assistance of a lawyer, the person arrested may find a positive outcome in these situations.
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