After the police have investigated the case they will decide whether to lay charges. Police will tell you what the person has been charged with. Not all police investigations lead to a person being charged with an offence.
How do police decide whether to lay charges?
In deciding whether to charge the person, the police will consider your views and whether or not there is sufficient evidence to prove the case in court.
But if a serious offence like assault or domestic violence has occurred, the police can decide to lay charges even if you don’t want them to.
After the police make an arrest they might:
- summons the defendant to appear at court at a later date (for minor offences)
- arrest the defendant and release them on bail to appear at court at a later date
- keep the defendant in custody and then bring them to court on next available court date (usually within 24 hours)
The police will tell you if they charge someone and what the charges are.
If the police cannot find an offender for the crime or there is not enough evidence to go to court, the police will contact you to tell you the reasons why.
Police may also give someone a Pre-Charge Warning(external link), which is a formal warning given after an arrest for a minor offence (like disorderly conduct or breaching a liquor ban).
A Pre-Charge Warning may include conditions that the person has to complete but does not result in a prosecution.
Read about your right to be told about charges
Right to be given information about investigation and criminal proceedings
Victims of crime have the right to be told within a reasonable time what is happening with the case, unless the information could harm the investigation or the criminal proceedings.
This might include information from police, court staff or the prosecutor about:
- charges filed against the defendant
- reasons for not laying charges
- your role as a witness
- when and where the hearings will take place
- the outcome of any criminal proceedings, including any proceedings on appeal
- an offender progress on a plan agreed at a family group conference.
You can ask for this information to be given to someone else who will then explain it to you.