​Identifying, arresting & charging the alleged offender

Identify

You may know who committed the crime against you. If you do not, police may be able to identify them from other evidence.

In some cases, you may be asked if you can identify the alleged offender from photographs or a line-up, which is where you view a group of alleged offenders to determine if you recognise one of them as the perpetrator.

Arrest

Police may arrest and interview a person (or people) as a result of the evidence they have collected during the investigation.

Police will tell the person what they have been accused of and will offer them an opportunity to make a statement about it. The person has the right to refuse to say anything.

In certain circumstances, police may use alternatives to arrest.

Charge

After arrest, if the police believe they have enough evidence, they will charge the person. Fingerprints and photographs may be taken so that they can be formally identified.

The police are responsible initially for charging the person with an offence. In more serious matters, the police may obtain advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) before laying the initial charge.

Once the alleged offender has been charged, they are known as the accused person. The accused person will be given a copy of their charges that will include information on the date they are to appear at court.

Any charge may be subsequently reviewed by the police prosecutor (for less serious offences) or by the DPP (more serious offences) to see whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute in the courts.

If the prosecutor decides that the case should not proceed because there is insufficient evidence in the case or for other reasons, this will be communicated to the victim.

Negotiations between the prosecutor and the defence may occur at any stage as a matter progresses through the courts. A prosecutor may agree to discontinue a charge or charges upon the promise of an accused person to plead guilty to another charge or charges.

Under the Charter of Victims Rights (Charter item 5) a victim should be informed in a timely manner of any decision the prosecution makes to modify or not proceed with charges laid against the accused.