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A private prosecution is when a private citizen brings a charge against another in court by filing a private complaint.

The private complaint must allege all the elements of the crime. It must not be brought for personal gain or merely to harass the person charged.

The commission of some criminal offences may not be known to the police until a complainant comes forward to inform the police that a crime has been committed. The crime of sexual assault is often committed behind closed doors that the police cannot possibly know that it has been committed unless and until the person assaulted comes forward and files a complaint.

Under Commonwealth law, any private person may sue in order for the criminal penalties provided by statute can be imposed upon another. This right can be exercised by any private individual unless the right to prosecute a crime is vested upon a designated officer. This means that even private individuals can sue in the name of the Crown so that the criminal laws can be brought to bear upon a person accused of having committed a crime.

Aside from the obligation to prove that the complaint is sufficient to support a criminal prosecution, the private complainant has the burden of proving the elements of the crime charged. Also, the private complainant has the obligation to show that the complaint he or she filed is not trivial or silly. It must not be brought merely to make trouble for an otherwise innocent person; and it must not be brought merely to abuse criminal proceedings for personal gain.

To ensure that a criminal proceeding that is brought by private complaint adheres to legal requirements the Department of Public Prosecutions has the power to take over a private prosecution. This means that the presentation of evidence by the private complainant will still be under the control and supervision of the public prosecutor.

Once the private complaint has been filed in court, the court will issue a summons to ensure that the person charged will appear and submit himself to the jurisdiction of the court. If the person charged fails to appear as directed by the court, the court may issue a warrant for his arrest.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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