When the police have completed their investigation into an allegation, they will prepare a file for the Crown Prosecution Service who then decide if you should be charged with an offence.
Before the CPS decide if you will be charged, they apply two tests:
- Is there sufficient evidence to give a reasonable prospect of conviction at trial
- Is it in the public interest for the case to go to Court
The “sufficient evidence” test considers all the statements obtained by the police, together with anything else the police have obtained such as CCTV material and the details of your interview under caution. You will be charged with an offence if an experienced lawyer at the CPS believes that the evidence is strong enough to convince magistrates or a jury that you are guilty.
The “public interest” test is harder to define. If the evidence that a crime has been committed, but the incident is very minor, the CPS have to decide whether it is really appropriate to put the public to the expense of Court proceedings. Alternatively, there could be more complex policy issues that mean that there is no significant benefit in charging someone at this time.