When the investigation is finished the police will decide whether or not to lay charges.

A ‘charge’ is when a person is charged with a crime and a formal allegation of a particular offence is made.

The decisions about what charge to lay are based on:

  • evidence
  • legal principles
  • the public interest.

What you are entitled to know

If you ask, you can be told:

  • if police have charged someone
  • what the charges are
  • the name of the alleged offender (unless they are under 18 years old).

If it is a crime like assault or domestic violence, the police can decide to lay charges even if you don’t want them to. They will speak to you about this decision.

Serious offences

If the crime is a serious offence such as a sexual assault or murder, the police may get advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

You should also be told if the prosecutor decides:

  • not to proceed with a charge
  • to amend the charge, or
  • accept a plea to a lesser charge
  • reasons for any of these decision.

If you are a victim of a serious offence you should be consulted before a decision is made.