Dealing with a Police Department: General Information
Dealing with a police department can be very confusing. Officers may use terms that you do not fully understand. Many of us get our ideas about how law enforcement and the criminal justice system work from television and movies. Real life situations are very different. Many times people confuse civil and criminal issues. If there is not a criminal issue involved and the matter is civil, that is, you would need to use your private attorney to handle the matter, then the only role the Police have is to preserve the peace.
Police Officers have very specific responsibilities in enforcing laws from the Penal Code (criminal laws), the Transportation Code (traffic laws) and other codes that include criminal aspects of the law. When you have an issue that does not fall under these areas, the Officer may not be able to take any type of enforcement action and may not be able to make someone do something.
There are things that Police Departments can do and things that they cannot. Below are some frequently asked questions.
The Criminal Justice Process can be very confusing. Here is a flow chart that shows you the steps toward Justice, from the time of the incident to the end processes of probation, parole, and serving time.