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What Happens When Someone Presses Charges Against You?

Posted on 08/08/22

If you suspect that someone has pressed charges against you, it is important that you take prompt, proactive steps to protect your rights and begin mounting a defense. The legal team at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. has more than 30 years of experience. During that time they have achieved significant results, including preventing prosecutors from bringing charges to begin with, having charges dismissed, reducing charges, and receiving acquittals for their clients. When you contact our office for help, we can explain your legal rights and options during your free and confidential case consultation.

What Pressing Charges Means 

The term “charges” is some type of legal allegation against another person, accusing them of committing a crime. When people say “pressing charges,” they usually mean that someone has contacted law enforcement and want the alleged offender to be prosecuted. Only the government has the ability to actually file charges against someone, not a private citizen. However, the private citizen can indicate that they are willing to aid in the prosecution if charges are filed against the defendant. 

The District Attorney is responsible for determining whether to file criminal charges against someone. The District Attorney has wide discretion to determine:

  • Which charges to file
  • Whether to prosecute criminal charges
  • What type of sentence to seek 
  • Whether to charge a minor as an adult

The district attorney must follow specific legal and ethical standards when making these decisions. The district attorney must have a reasonable belief that the defendant committed the crime and a jury will vote unanimously of the defendant’s guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. While only probable cause is necessary to make an arrest, the higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt applies to formal charges. 

Criminal Procedure in Colorado

A person who is charged with a crime may undergo the following procedure:

Police Investigation

Charges are not pressed until the police have conducted a criminal investigation. Once they receive the report of a crime, police may interview people who have knowledge about the crime and collect evidence. 

Review of Charges

The District Attorney’s Office reviews cases that police have presented to it to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support criminal charges. This office makes this decision based on the specific facts of each case. 

Filing Decision 

The District Attorney’s Office reviews the charges and evidence and makes one of the following decisions:

  • To accept the case for the filing of criminal charges
  • To refuse to file charges due to insufficient evidence
  • To request additional investigative work be completed on the case

The District Attorney’s Office typically files charges within three business days of an arrest. 

There is an ethical duty for the District Attorney’s Office to decline to file charges if there is not a reasonable belief that the charge can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, or to dismiss charges that have already been filed if this determination is later made.  

Contact Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. Today

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Colorado, you need a strong ally on your side who can fight to protect your rights and freedom. The criminal defense team at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. is here to help.

Contact us today for your free and confidential case review.