What if the Police Won't Investigate my Case?
Somebody smashed your car windows. Somebody stole your bike. Somebody mugged you in a dark alley after a night at the bar. Somebody assaulted you while you were drunk.
When you go to the police, they refuse to investigate your case. There are lots of reasons police won't pursue a case. Maybe the value of your loss is too little. Maybe after an initial look, there is just no evidence to warrant further work. Or bottom line, maybe the police think an investigation just isn't worth their very limited time and money.
Regardless of the reason given, what can you do if the police refuse to investigate your case?
1. Go Up the Food Chain
Police do not have a legal duty to investigate all reported crimes. However, this doesn't mean you're helpless if the police won't investigate the crime against you.
If repeated calls and reports to the police department don't encourage any action, go up the food chain. Contact the local District Attorney's office. Most DA's offices have their own investigation team, and may investigate and pursue charges independent of the police.
If that doesn't work, contact the mayor's office. While the mayor's office probably won't have the resources to investigate crimes itself, the mayor's office may be able to put pressure on the police to investigate if enough citizens complain.
2. Contact the Press
Another way to put pressure on the police is to go to the media. Most media channels have tip lines where you can try to get coverage for your issue. Enough bad press may motivate the police department to re-think their decision.
3. Utilize Social Media
Police often turn to social media to get help from the community to identify suspects. You should too. Leverage your circle of friends and their circle of friends to either put pressure on the police to investigate or to give the investigation something to go on by identifying possible witnesses, evidence, and suspects.
4. Hire an Investigator
Take matters into your own hands. I don't mean putting on a trench coat and investigating yourself or marching out to get justice by hurting the person you think hurt you. Instead, hire a licensed private investigator to do the job for you. Private investigators, like police, are trained for the job. You aren't.
5. Sue in Civil Court
If you can't get justice from the criminal system, turn to civil courts. Most crimes such as battery or theft have civil law counterparts. If you are lucky enough to know who the perpetrator is, and the police won't arrest him or the DA's office won't press charges, you may be able to sue for damages in civil court.
Contact an experienced litigation attorney for help suing for damages.
- Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Can You Sue for Injury Without a Police Report? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Why Are Cops Asking for Twitter, Google User Data? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Court Makes Obvious Ruling: Cops Can Use Fake Social Media Accounts (FindLaw's Technologist)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.