The way a criminal charge is filed can vary and is a process that takes place in stages depending on what the circumstances of the situation are.
Typically, the most common way a criminal charge is brought against someone is through a police investigation. This usually takes place when the police have either responded to an emergency call, or observed suspicious activity. The police will then complete an investigation and from there determine if criminal charges should be pursued.
Depending on the nature of the crime the police may make an arrest which results in criminal charges being filed. In some instances police will consult the State’s attorney to determine if charges should be filed. In either instances, once the determination is made that there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed, then criminal charges are filed.
The second way criminal charges may be filed is if another citizen pursues charges against someone. The majority of the time this is done by someone calling the police to investigate but a citizen may also speak with a magistrate. This is most common with family law issues, or domestic violence or assualt charges.
The individual citizen may then present their evidence to the magistrate that someone has committed a crime, andit is up to the magistrate to decide whether or not to issue a warrant. If the magistrate does decide to issue a warrant, then it is up to the State what to do with the charge, not the individual who originally pursued having criminal charges pressed against someone else. Thus, even if the individual was the intial one to contact the police, the State will end up playing the role of the plaintiff, as opposed to the abused person who called the magistrate in the first place.