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The criminal justice process - Reporting

The first step of the criminal justice process is reporting a crime.

Choosing to report a crime is a personal decision. Understanding how to report and learning more about what to expect can take away some of the unknowns and may help you feel more prepared.

How to report a crime

All investigations and cases handled by King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) must be reported to law enforcement first.

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Contact your local police/sheriff department.
    • Call the non-emergency number or
    • Go into you local precinct and speak with an officer.
  • Go to a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from your crime, you can tell a medical professional that you would like to report a crime.
  • Sometimes witnesses report a crime for you. You may still be asked to give a statement as to what happened.
    • You have a right to access immediate medical assistance before providing a statement to law enforcement
  • Keep the police report number. Be sure to ask and keep the police report number. It may be helpful in the future.

Do you need an interpreter?

Ask to speak to someone in your preferred language.

Watch the video: Criminal Justice Process: Investigation and Pre-Filing


Find more help online

Online tools are available through our website including a glossary of terms, community resources, help videos, and our online filing tools. Visit us at

Crime victims

Choosing to report a crime can be hard. Please consider calling some of our community providers for extra support during this process.

  • Watch the "How to Request a Police Report" video on our website to learn more
  • Keep a copy of your statement. If you plan on filing other motions in court, such as a civil protection order, you may be asked to provide a statement again. The court may not have access to your statement from the police report, unless you file a copy of the police report in your case.
  • It may be helpful to buy a notebook or keep notes throughout this process.
  • We recommend keeping records of any out-of-pocket financial losses such as replacement costs, impound fees, property damage repairs, or medical expenses not covered by insurance or Crime Victim's Compensation for future Restitution claim.