Police Complaint to
Trial- Step-by-Step

Above diagram explained:

  1. Complainant/victim files police complaint: Police will register the complaint, give you a copy, and appoint an investigation officer to investigate your complaint
  2. FIR: Police will lodge FIR either immediately (for serious cognizable offences like rape, murder, etc.) or after 2-3 days after conducting a preliminary inquiry.

    Upon lodging an FIR, police can arrest the accused (without needing a warrant from Magistrate court) for conducting an investigation or questioning him. If the investigation is not completed within 24 hours, the police need to produce the accused before the Magistrate court (within 24 hours from arrest). The Magistrate will decide whether the accused should be kept in police custody (i.e. in the police lockup) or judicial custody (prison) or whether the accused should be released on bail. The Magistrate can order the accused to be in custody (police custody or judicial custody) only for 15 days, after which the order needs to be extended, or the person needs to be released on bail.

  3. Police Investigation: Police will conduct a detailed investigation, record statements, collect evidence, etc. They will examine the accused, the victim, the complainant and witnesses, and record their statements. These statements recorded by the police can be used in court for contradicting you during cross-examination, therefore, you should give them very carefully.
  4. Charge Sheet: Upon completion of the investigation, the police will file a charge sheet with the Magistrate. A charge sheet gives the exact sections and laws under which the accused is being charged, and under which he will be tried in court. If the police feel that the accused is innocent, they will submit a report to the Magistrate stating that there is no need for filing charges against the accused.
  5. Issue of summons/warrant: If the accused is not already in custody, the Magistrate will issue A summons is an order asking the accused to be present before the court on a particular date for trial. A warrant is an order to the police to arrest the accused and place him in custody. Usually, the Magistrate will issue a summons, unless there is a possibility of the accused absconding, running away, or destroying any evidence, or harming the victim.
  6. Trial: Both sides will present their arguments. The prosecution (i.e. the state on behalf of the victim) will try to prove that the accused is guilty. The defense (i.e. the accused) will try to prove that he is innocent. The lawyers of both sides will conduct chief examination and cross-examination of witnesses presented by both sides.
  7. Judgment: Court will decide whether the accused is guilty or not. If the accused is guilty, the court will award punishment, based on the offence.


Above diagram explained:

  1. Complaint to Magistrate: The complainant/victim files a complaint with the Magistrate. The Magistrate may call the complainant/victim to court to ask questions about the complaint OR if the Magistrate is satisfied from the complaint that an offence could have been committed, the Magistrate will not call you for questioning.
  2. Police Investigation: Magistrate can order police to investigate the offence. Only then the police will start their investigation. The police will conduct a detailed examination just as explained above for cognizable offences.

All other remaining steps will be the same as Cognizable Offences, explained above.


  1. The victim is Prosecution Witness 1. The Magistrate will call you for an examination on specific dates.
  2. By default, the victim gets free legal aid from the state. A Public Prosecutor always appears for the victim.
  3. The victim can appoint her own lawyer also. Her lawyer will assist the public prosecutor and present her case along with the public prosecutor.
  4. The victim will be examined by both sides (i.e. her side lawyers and accused side lawyers). Examination by own lawyers is called Chief Examination. Examination by other side’s lawyer is called Cross-Examination. A chief examination will be used to confirm your statements given to the police during the investigation while the cross-examination will be used to contradict your statements.

Practical tip:To ensure that your story does not break anywhere, you should maintain the same facts and details from the start- right from the police complaint, to the statement given to the police, to the examination in court.


  1. Know your facts thoroughly. All the small details like date, time, place, etc. are very important, as the accused’s side will try to find errors in these to show you are lying.
  2. Accused’s side may try to twist the facts or pull out something contradictory to your statement. Don’t fall for any tricks, just stick to your facts.
  3. Accused’s side may try to intimidate you, as that is how they will break your story. Stay calm.

Please note: This information has been made available to you for your benefit on an ‘as is’ basis, and is only for your information. It does not constitute legal advice and cannot substitute professional legal advice. Our disclaimer policy can be viewed here ( disclaimer policy)

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