The Role of Prosecutors
Once a report has been made to law enforcement and the investigation is completed, the investigator may submit the reports to the prosecutor for consideration of filing charges against the suspected offender. The prosecutor review the reports to determine whether to file charges, and which crimes to charge. There are many factors the prosecutor must consider before charging a case, and many steps that will occur if a case is charged and proceeds to court.
The prosecutor represents the State, Commonwealth or Territory, not the victim of the crime. In deciding whether to file charges, the prosecutor knows that to obtain a conviction, he or she will eventually have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the crime occurred. While crime victims’ rights statutes indicate that the prosecutor should seek victim input at many stages throughout a prosecution, the decision whether to file a complaint and pursue a case lies with the prosecutor.
If the prosecutor believes they can prove the case, they initiate the process by submitting a charging document, such as an indictment or a complaint, to a court. The complaint names the person who is accused, gives a short description of the relevant events, and states the crime or crimes that the person is accused of committing. The process then proceeds through the court system.
Fact Sheets on Prosecution
For SVJI Fact Sheets related to the prosecution of sexual assault click here.