The pre-indictment phase of criminal case processing encompasses all actions taken in relation to the case from the filing of the initial charges through presentation of the case to a grand jury.
The criminal process normally begins with the filing of a complaint in Municipal Court. The process can also begin with an arrest without a warrant or by the return of an indictment. The complaint is a written statement accusing a specific person of committing an offense and citing the essential facts constituting the offense. Complaints are normally made by police officers, but all citizens have the right to lodge complaints. The Court Rules require that the court clerk or deputy clerk, Municipal Court administrator or deputy court administrator accept for filing complaints made by any person. See R. 3:2-1(a). The Rules require that the complaint be made upon oath or by certification before a judge or other person, e.g. Municipal Court administrator, authorized by N.J.S.A. 2B:12-21 to take complaints.