How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges?

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Assault is a serious crime, and filing charges against the perpetrator is a good first step toward seeking justice. How long after an assault you can press charges depends on the severity of the assault and your state’s statute of limitations. While some cases will be subject to the statute, you can press charges for more severe assaults regardless of how much time has passed.

How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges?

Have you been assaulted recently? Or do you know someone who has been? An assault happens when an individual commits actions that put another person in a position they can justifiably fear physical harm.

The limitation period in your state, which usually runs for six years, will determine how long you have to file charges. However, it’s essential to report the assault even after several years. In exceptional cases, the prosecutor may not charge the aggressor after six years.

What constitutes an offense and how long one has to file criminal charges varies. So, if you’re wondering how long after an assault you should press charges, you’re in the right place.

How Long Do You Have To Report an Assault?

The timeline for pressing an assault charge varies with the state. For instance, victims in Florida must report an assault within three years. The prosecution in such cases will start within a year. Victims in most states must report such cases within three and six years.

The statute of limitations used in simple offenses was established to make it clear which matters will have legal repercussions. All matters of assault can be traumatizing, but not all will hold up in court.

Always remember, it’s not in the best interest of anyone involved for there to be any lingering doubt regarding whether charges will be filed after a relatively minor offense has been committed. In the same sense, it would be impractical to bring charges and undertake prosecutions for minor offenses that occurred many years ago.

The court might dismiss your assault allegation if you wait too long to file it after the statute of limitations for filing in your state has expired.

Although there are time limits on filing charges for summary offenses, more serious crimes like aggravated assault are not subject to a statute of limitations. When someone commits a grave crime, it’s in the public interest for the prosecution to file charges even if a significant amount of time has passed.

Is It Worth Pressing Charges for an Assault?

Now that you know the statute of limitations concerning assault crimes, you might ask yourself, is it worth pressing charges for an assault? When a person reports a crime to the police, the police may decide whether or not to file charges.

It’s not always up to the complainant to “press charges.” Sometimes, a person can file even if the complainant doesn’t want charges to take place.

Police might also decide not to file charges, despite the victim’s desire for the accused person to be taken to court.

The judgment on whether to file suit will be contingent on many things, including the solidity of the case against the accused person, how grave the accusations are, and the extent to which it is in the public’s interest for the accused person to be taken to court.

Types of Assault Charges

When deciding whether or not to press charges, most individuals will use the term “assault” to describe the act of violence committed by a perpetrator against a victim. Nonetheless, there are a variety of terms and categories used to describe these crimes.

In other words, not all assaults are created equal.

If you want to press charges, you should be aware of the different types of assault you can file. The types of assault include:

1. Simple Assault

Whatever the case may be, the perpetrator must intend to cause harm to the victim. For an incident to be classified as simple assault, the victim must have a reasonable basis for fearing for their safety from the perpetrator.

Additionally, there must be actual or potential harm to the victim. In most cases, a simple assault will result in a misdemeanor.

2. Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault entails a greater degree of involvement than simple assault. Violent crimes like these frequently involve using a deadly weapon and leave their victims severely wounded. Based on the severity of the harm caused, the court will likely label the crime as a felony.

3. Battery

An individual is charged with battery if they cause physical harm to another individual. When threats of an attack precede the physical attack, the prosecutor will file an “assault and battery” charge against the person representing two distinct types of crimes.

How To Press Charges After an Assault

If you’ve been the victim of an assault and have decided to press charges, the first step is to visit the police station in your area. If you are unable to go to the police station physically, you can always give them a call.

Simply stating that you want to press charges will get the ball rolling. Once they have that knowledge, they can begin filling out the assault report and will ask you for additional details.

Typically, they will ask for the following information:

  • Name of the victim
  • Name of the perpetrator
  • Where they both live
  • Date and time of occurrence
  • How it happened

Then, the police will come to the crime scene and meet with the victim and the offender.

If there is reasonable suspicion that the perpetrator has committed a crime, the police may instantly arrest and take him or her to the station.

During this time, the police will interview the victim, identify potential witnesses, and collect as much information related to the crime as possible before submitting their evidence to the prosecutor.

Finding legal counsel is a good idea if you intend to file charges for assault or have already filed such charges. The consultation will help you understand the nature of the charge, your case’s strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to defend yourself.

The attorney can also assist you in filing a claim for compensation for physical and emotional harm suffered by the perpetrator.

The accused will be allowed to find a defense attorney to obtain legal representation and determine the most appropriate action.

The defense attorney can quickly devise a plan of action, which may involve challenging the integrity of the evidence collected by the police or trying to find other reasons to cast reasonable doubt on the charges.

Assault Prosecution

Police officers will give victims copies of their reports once they have collected the necessary information. The next step is for the prosecutor to review the complaints and decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to file charges against the alleged aggressor.

An arrest warrant will be issued for the accused perpetrator if the prosecution feels there is sufficient evidence to proceed with charges. Moreover, police will dig deeper into the case to gather additional evidence.

Once the prosecution decides to file charges, the accused person will have to appear in court and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The burden lies on the prosecution to show that the accused has committed a crime and should be punished.

If the perpetrator is found guilty in court, the victim may also be eligible for monetary compensation from the state. The primary purpose of the compensation is to aid victims by covering costs such as medical care, counseling, and lost wages.

A person’s innocence can still be established even after criminal charges have been filed against them. The judge might acquit the accused of assault allegations if the prosecution can’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Orders of Protection After Pressing Assault Charges

In the aftermath of an assault, some are reluctant to press charges out of fear of retaliation.

Orders of protection are primarily restraining orders that can lead to the arrest of the alleged aggressor and can be sought by those who file assault charges. Such orders prohibit the perpetrator from approaching within a specified distance of the victim.

If the accused violates a protective order issued against them, they may face further criminal charges. Some people may need to file assault charges to finally put a troubling occurrence in their past and find peace with it. To ensure their safety and the prosecution of their attackers, they must follow the correct processes.

If you couldn’t file charges because you feared for your life and the statute of limitations has expired, you should speak with a competent criminal attorney about your alternatives.

Final Thoughts

When filing criminal charges, the statute of limitations may not apply in all jurisdictions. In the United States, assault charges can carry a limitation period of up to six years in some jurisdictions. Nevertheless, there are times when victims want to press charges but are afraid to do so due to apprehensions about the perpetrator’s potential response.

That’s why you must seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay to learn about your rights, the repercussions of taking legal action, and the statute of limitations within which to file charges. Hopefully, we’ve helped you answer the question; is it worth pressing charges for an assault?


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  • " How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on June 24, 2024.

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