Home Blog Press Charges For Assault (What It Is And How It Works)

Press Charges For Assault (What It Is And How It Works)

Want to Press Charges For Assault?

How long do you have to press charges for assault?

What’s crucial to know?

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

What does it mean to press charges and how does it work!!

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What Does Press Charges For Assault Mean

Pressing charges for assault means that a victim of assault files a report against the aggressor (or assailant) with the police who in turn will hand over the matter to the prosecutor who may formally file criminal charges against the same.

To assault someone means that a person acts in a way that causes another person to fear that he or she will be physically attacked, harmed, or suffer injuries.

The notion of assault does not involve actual physical harm but rather the “threat” of physical harm leading the victim to reasonably fear that the aggressor will execute on his or her threats.

In many cases, you’ll hear the term “assault” when someone is describing an event where one person threatens someone or physically harms them.

However, it’s important to understand what the term assault actually means to be able to nuance the legal consequences of an attack or a threat of an attack.

To better understand what assault means, let’s look at the different types of assault charges that may be filed.

Types of Assault Charges

There are different types of assault charges that can be filed by the victims, namely:

  • Simple assault charge
  • Aggravated assault charge
  • Battery 

A simple assault charge is filed against someone when he or she threatens someone to hurt them (regardless of whether the threat is executed or not) and the victim has a reasonable and strong belief that the aggressor will in fact cause him or her physical harm.

A simple assault charge in most jurisdictions is qualified as a misdemeanor.

An aggravated assault charge is filed against a person when the person threatening or the assaulting individual also uses a weapon.

Aggravated assault charges are often filed as felonies depending on the nature of the crime and the jurisdiction.

You then have battery charges.

A battery charge is filed against someone who actually physically harms another person.

When the physical attack is preceded by threats of an attack, the prosecutor will file an “assault and battery” charge against the person representing two distinct types of crimes.

Pressing Charges Meaning

Let’s also quickly define the notion of pressing charges.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pressing charges or to press charges means:

To take legal action against someone : to officially accuse someone of a crime

In practice, when the victim of a crime contacts the police to file a criminal complaint against an offender, we refer to that as pressing charges.

The desire to press charges means that a person wishes to have the state formally accuse an offender of criminal conduct.

How Long Do You Have To Press Charges For Assault

Depending on where the crime took place (the applicable law), the delays to file assault charges may vary.

In some jurisdictions, you can press charges for a criminal act at any time in the future without the risk of being time-barred.

In the United States, every state may define a different statute of limitations for assault charges that can go up to six years in some states.

If you are a victim of assault, you should immediately consult a criminal attorney to get legal advice as to how long you have to press charges, what are the consequences for pressing charges, your rights, and get any other meaningful information.

If your state imposes a statute of limitations for assault charges, you must file your assault charges before the deadline runs out, otherwise, your complaint may no longer be admissible.

However, there are instances when the victims do have the desire to file charges but are scared to file charges fearing retaliation or other types of harm caused by their aggressor. 

If you were unable to file charges as you were scared or feared for your life and the statute of limitations clock has run out, you should certainly consult a qualified criminal attorney to assess your options.

How To Press Charges For Assault

Let’s look at the two possible scenarios when a person can initiate the process of having the prosecutor press criminal charges against another for assault.

Where Incident Happened

The most common scenario where the prosecutor ends up pressing charges against a person is when the victim of the crime calls the police when the assault takes place.

Then, the police show up at the scene of the crime and meet with the victim and the offender (who is generally there).

If there’s probable cause that the offender had committed a crime, the police may immediately arrest the aggressor and bring him or her to the police station.

In this process, the police will speak with the victim, identify possible witnesses, and gather as much evidence relating to the crime and submit that to a prosecutor.

If there’s enough evidence to possibly lead to a criminal conviction, the prosecutor will press charges against the assailant.

At Police Station

If you have elected to file charges against someone for assault after the incident has taken place, you’ll need to start the process by filing a report with the police.

Let’s look at how you can press charges against someone who is no longer at the scene of the crime.

The first step is to actually go to your local police station to file a complaint against your aggressor.

When you get to the police station, you will then inform them that you are there to file assault charges against someone and they will then provide you with the necessary explanations of what to do next.

Typically, you’ll need to file an assault report against the offender and provide information surrounding the criminal event.

Your assault report will contain crucial information that the police will need to assess whether or not this case must be submitted to a prosecutor for formal charges or not, such as:

  • The offender’s name (if you have the information)
  • The offender’s address (if available of course)
  • Where the assault took place
  • On what date the assault took place
  • Were there witnesses
  • What happened exactly

If you don’t know the name, address, or identity of the assailant, you will then have to provide as much relevant and descriptive information as possible so the police can find the right individual (perhaps you have photos, video, or security camera recording etc).

Once you provide all the information that you have to the police and answer any of the police’s follow-up questions, you have essentially filed a criminal complaint against the assailant (you have pressed charges).

What Happens When You Press Charges For Assault

When assault charges are filed against a person, the accused will then have to go to court and either plead guilty or defend himself or herself against the charges to eventually be acquitted.

Just because a person is charged with a crime does not mean that the person is guilty of a crime.

In fact, the prosecutor filing the assault charges has the burden to prove to the court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused has committed a crime and must be punished.

If the prosecutor is unable to prove the criminal act and intent without a shed of doubt, then the accused will be acquitted of the assault charges.

However, if the prosecutor is successful in proving that the defendant did in fact commit a crime, then the most common punishments for assault are jail time and fines.

Criminal Charges

Once you have pressed charges with the police, you will then need to let the police complete its investigation on the matter.

The police will investigate the circumstances of the crime in an attempt to gather more information and evidence relevant to eventually proving that a crime was committed.

Once the police’s investigation is complete, the file is submitted to a prosecutor to evaluate whether criminal charges must be filed or not.

If the prosecutor considers that there’s enough evidence to potentially lead to a criminal verdict, then criminal charges will be formally filed against the assailant.

With the criminal charges, you will also see that an arrest warrant is issued to bring the defendant before a judge and kick-start the criminal proceedings.

Civil Lawsuit

In some cases, the victims of an assault may also consider the option of filing a civil lawsuit against their aggressor to seek damages for civil injuries suffered.

To see if you have any possible recourse under civil law to get compensation, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in matters where a person has suffered physical or mental damages.

It’s important to remember that the same criminal event can not only lead to a criminal conviction but also a civil condemnation for damages.

Hiring Assault Lawyer

The criminal defendant is advised to find an assault lawyer or defense lawyer to get legal representations and assess the best course of action to take in the circumstances.

Assault lawyers are legal professionals specialized in dealing with assault charges within the jurisdiction where the charges are filed.

It’s important to minimally consult with an experienced attorney to get an overall understanding of the type of charge you are dealing with, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and how to handle your defense.

The defense attorneys can quickly determine a defense strategy that may include contesting the manner in which the police collected evidence (admissibility of evidence) or finding other arguments that will lead to the doubt necessary for the charges to be acquitted (like self-defense or other).

Protection Orders

When assault charges are filed, the aggressor is formally accused, and brought before the court, in many cases, the court will issue protection orders to protect the victim of the crime.

A protection order (such as a restraining order) is a type of order that prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim, getting near the victim’s home, place of work, or other places, along with other types of orders intended to protect victims during the criminal proceedings.

The fact is that many victims of assault are reluctant to press charges as they fear the offender may finally end up causing them harm or fear retribution of some kind.

If protective orders are issued and the defendant does not respect them, he or she may end up getting arrested and charged with additional crimes.

Pressing Charges For Assault Takeaways 

There are so many questions that come up when dealing with assault and having to press assault charges:

  • Should I press charges for assault
  • How long do I have to press charges for assault
  • How do I press charges

To “press charges” is commonly referred to as to file a complaint against someone for having committed a crime and expecting that the prosecutor effectively charges the person with a crime.

The decision to press charges officially rests with the prosecutor and not the victim of the crime.

When a person commits a crime, such as assault, and the victim files a police report, the police will generally investigate the matter to determine whether or not a crime was committed (and gather evidence).

If there’s enough evidence that the police can gather relating to the crime and the prosecutor is satisfied that it may potentially obtain a conviction, then the prosecutor will press charges against the criminal defendant.

If you are the victim of assault and you want the offender to be held accountable for such conduct, then you may want to file assault charges.

Depending on the applicable law, you may have a statute of limitations that sets out how long you can wait to press charges for assault.

If you have been assault, you can immediately contact the police so they can do the necessary investigation leading to the possible criminal charges against the assailant.

Otherwise, if you have not reported the assault when it actually happened, you can go to the police station to file a criminal report.

I hope I was able to provide you with some information to answer your questions like how long does someone have to press charges for assault, do you have to press charges for assault, or how does it work.

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Press Charges For Assault And Battery

  • The notion of assault may vary from one jurisdiction to another but it generally means when a person causes another person to reasonably apprehend an imminent harmful or offensive contact with the intention to cause physical injury 
  • A person does not have the authority to file criminal charges against another but can file a police report or contact the police who in turn can do the necessary to investigate a crime
  • If a prosecutor considers that there’s enough evidence that a crime was committed, then it will file criminal charges against the defendant 
  • When the prosecutor presses charges, the criminal defendant will then need to show up to court and either plead guilty or present a defense 
3rd degree felony
3rd degree sexual assault
Aggravated assault
Arrest warrant 
Assault vs battery 
Assault lawyer
Compensatory damages 
Crime victim compensation 
Criminal lawyer 
Criminally charged 
Domestic violence 
Double jeopardy 
Harassment charges 
Miranda Rights
Molestation definition 
Police report 
Press charges meaning 
Rape laws 
Rome and Juliet law
Simple assault
Tort law 
What is a prosecutor
Absolute immunity
Absolute law 
Civil lawyer
Civil law vs criminal law 
Court order
Crime scene 
Define homicide 
District court 
False arrest 
Federal court 
Felony assault 
Fourth Amendment 
Judicial review 
Legal briefs 
Life partner 
Locus standi
Personal jurisdiction 
Probable cause 
Public indecency 
Representation letter 
Res judicata 
Scrivener’s error 
Sovereign immunity 
State court
Statutory right

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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