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Types of Complaints in NJ Criminal Cases

Hudson County Criminal Complaint Attorneys

Received a Criminal Complaint in Hudson County, New Jersey

If you have had a criminal complaint filed against you in New Jersey, you may be wondering how a citizen’s complaint differs from a police complaint and whether this means you’re facing criminal charges. Often, citizen’s complaints arise in situations involving domestic disputes, however, they can also be filed by a bystander who observes criminal activity. Understanding the difference between a citizen’s complaint and a complaint filed by police will allow you to better understand the state of your case and how each type of complaint can initiate criminal proceedings against you. 

What is a Citizen’s Complaint in NJ?

A citizen’s complaint occurs when a citizen alleges that a crime has been committed or provides a statement regarding illegal conduct. New Jersey law provides a legal avenue through which private citizens can file criminal complaints and traffic complaints against another individual for certain violations. If a court determines, after review, that there is probable cause, the individual can be charged with an offense.

It is important to note that a citizen’s complaint does not in and of itself impose criminal charges on an individual. If someone you know falsely accused you of crime and made a citizen’s complaint against you, that does not automatically mean that you will be put into the criminal justice system. First, the court must determine that there is probable cause to believe that the claim(s) against you are true.

Citizen Complaints vs. Police Complaints in New Jersey 

A police-filed complaint may come about in a few different ways. First, if an officer personally observes illegal conduct, they may file a complaint based on their own observations. For example, if a police officer observes a drug deal taking place, approaches the individuals, and confirms the occurrence of a drug sale, the officer may file a complaint based on their own observations. This means the police officer files criminal charges against the individuals for heroin distribution, intent to sell marijuana, distributing cocainedrug distribution in a school zone, or another drug offense. 

A police-filed complaint may also follow from an investigation prompted by statements and observations from a private citizen. This situation may arise if a private citizen observes criminal activity (like an attempted car theft), flags down a police car, and tells the police officer what they saw and what direction the suspect is headed in. If the police investigate and determine that there is probable cause to arrest and charge an individual with a criminal offense, they will file a complaint themselves. In this process of filing charges against the alleged offender, the officer will file a complaint for sexual assault, lewdness, harassment, or another criminal offense that applies to the situation. 

How do you file a criminal complaint against someone in New Jersey?

If you want to file a citizen’s complaint in New Jersey regarding a criminal violation made by another person, you can do so by visiting the municipal court or the police department in the town or city where the criminal activity occurred. You will be asked to fill out a citizen’s complaint form. This form will be submitted to the State Electronic Complaint System (ECDR) and you will be asked to sign the document, swearing that the contents are true and accurate. You may be required to also file a police report. New Jersey law requires the individual filing the complaint to appear in court when their complaint is reviewed. The municipal court will then determine if there is probable cause to file criminal charges against the alleged offender, based on the complaint and any other evidence available.

Criminal Complaint Defense Lawyers in Hudson County, NJ

If you receive a criminal complaint in Hudson County, it is important to obtain the representation of an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A police complaint means you may face prosecution in the Hudson County Superior Court or a local Municipal Court in Hudson County. If someone has filed a citizen’s complaint against you, a judge will review this complaint and it could lead to criminal charges against you. For additional information about types of complaints in New Jersey criminal cases, contact our firm today at (201) 793-8018. One of our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver is available to provide you with a free review of your case.