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Criminal Complaint legal definition of Criminal Complaint complaint definition crpc

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The Pleading that initiates a civil action; in Criminal Law, the document that sets forth the basis upon which a person is to be charged with an offense.

Civil Complaint

A civil complaint initiates a civil lawsuit by setting forth for the court a claim for relief from damages caused, or wrongful conduct engaged in, by the defendant. The complaint outlines all of the plaintiff's theories of relief, or causes of action (e.g., Negligence, Battery, assault), and the facts supporting each Cause of Action. The complaint also serves as notice to the defendant that legal action is underway. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern construction of complaints filed in federal courts. Many state courts follow the same rules as the federal courts, or similar rules.

The caption opens the complaint and identifies the location of the action, the court, the docket or file number, and the title of the action. Each party to the lawsuit must be identified in the caption and must be a real party in interest, that is, either a person who has been injured or harmed in some way, or a person accused of causing the injury or harm. In addition, a party must have the capacity to sue or to be sued. If a party lacks capacity owing to mental incompetence, for example, the suit may be dismissed. Any number of parties may be named and joined in a single lawsuit as long as all meet the requirements of capacity and all are real parties in interest.

Courts of limited–subject matter jurisdiction, such as federal courts, require the complaint to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. In general-jurisdiction courts, such as most state courts, a jurisdictional allegation is unnecessary.

The most critical part of the complaint is the claim, or cause of action. The claim is a concise and direct statement of the basis upon which the plaintiff seeks relief. It sets forth the Rule of Law that forms the basis of the lawsuit and recounts the facts that support the rule of law. Finally, the claim concludes that the defendant violated the rule of law, thereby causing the plaintiff's injuries or damages, and that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. For example: A negligence claim might begin with a statement that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; that the defendant breached that duty; and that, as a result, the plaintiff suffered injuries or other damages. The conclusion then states that because the defendant's breach was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation from the defendant.

The complaint may state separate claims or theories of relief in separate counts. For example, in a negligence case, count 1 might be for negligence, count 2 for breach of Warranty, and count 3 for Fraud. Each count contains a separate statement of the rule of law, supporting facts, and conclusion. There is no limit to the number of counts a plaintiff may include in one complaint.

Federal courts and other jurisdictions that follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a brief, simple pleading known as a notice pleading. The notice pleading informs the defendant of the allegations and the basis for the claim. The rules require that the complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civil P. 8[a]). Rule 8(c)(1) states, "Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct."

Following the claim, the prayer for relief or demand for judgment appears. Commonly called the wherefore clause, the prayer for relief demands judgment for the plaintiff and relief in the form of the remedies the plaintiff requests. The plaintiff may demand relief in several forms. Money damages are compensation for injuries and loss. General money damages cover injuries directly related to the defendant's actions—such as pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Special money damages arise indirectly from the defendant's actions and may include lost wages or medical bills. The court awards exemplary or Punitive Damages when the defendant's actions are particularly egregious. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter similar wrongdoing. Other types of damages are recovery of property, injunctions, and Specific Performance of a contractual obligation. The plaintiff may demand alternative relief or several different types of relief, in the same complaint (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8[a]).

A demand for a jury trial may be included near the end of the complaint. The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff's attorney, indicating that the attorney has read the complaint; that it is grounded in fact, to the best of the attorney's knowledge, information, and belief; and that it is brought in Good Faith.

Criminal Complaint

A criminal complaint charges the person named or an unknown person with a particular offense. For example, after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, authorities issued a john doe complaint, charging an unknown person or persons with the crime.

A criminal complaint must state the facts that constitute the offense and must be supported by Probable Cause. It may be initiated by the victim, a police officer, the district attorney, or another interested party. After the complaint is filed, it is presented to a magistrate, who reviews it to determine whether sufficient cause exists to issue an arrest warrant. If the magistrate determines that the complaint does not state sufficient probable cause, the complaint is rejected and a warrant is not issued. In federal court, the complaint is presented under oath (Fed. R. Crim. P. 3).

Further readings

Federal Employees News Digest, eds. 2000. Whistleblowing: A Federal Employee's Guide to Charges, Procedures, and Penalties. Reston, Va.: Federal Employees News Digest.

Kahan, Jeffrey B. 2001. "How to Prepare Response to Complaints." Los Angeles Lawyer 24 (April).

McCord, James W.H. "Drafting the Complaint: Defending and Testing the Lawsuit." Practising Law Institute 447.


Civil Procedure.


n. the first document filed with the court (actually with the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court) by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another. The party filing the complaint is usually called the plaintiff and the party against whom the complaint is filed is called the defendant or defendants. Complaints are pleadings and must be drafted carefully (usually by an attorney) to properly state the factual as well as legal basis for the claim, although some states have approved complaint forms which can be filled in by an individual. A complaint also must follow statutory requirements as to form. For example, a complaint must be typed on a specific type of paper or on forms approved by the courts, name both the party making the claim and all defendants, and should state what damages or performance is demanded (the prayer). When the complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue a summons, which gives the name and file number of the lawsuit and the address of the attorney filing the complaint, and instructs the defendant that he/she/it has a specific time to file an answer or other response. A copy of the complaint and the summons must be served on a defendant before a response is required. A complaint filing must be accompanied by a filing fee payable to the court clerk, unless a waiver based on poverty is obtained. (See: pleading, caption, answer, service of process, summons, in forma pauperis)

complaint noun  accusal, accusation, allegation, bill of indictment, case, case for the prosecution, charge, citation, count, crimination, criticism, denouncement, denunciation, expostulation, first pleading, formal allegation, gravamen of a charge, grievance, incrimination, indictment, information, information against, litigation, main charge, objection, particclar charge, petition, plaint, plaintiff's initiatory pleading, pleading in a civil action, preferment of charges, prosecution, protest, protestation, querimonia, remonstrance, statement of the plaintiff's cause, substance of a charge
Associated concepts: bill of complaint, petition, cross commlaint, verified complaint See also: accusation, allegation, blame, charge, claim, condemnation, criticism, denunciation, disapprobation, disapproval, disorder, disparagement, dissatisfaction, exception, grievance, ground, impeachment, incrimination, indictment, objection, outcry, plaint, pleading, pr complaint-definition-crpc-rid-0.html. moncler saleotest, reproach complaint 1 the start of a civil action in a magistrate's court. 2 an allegation against another. 3 the name of the papers used by the court and served on the accused in Scottish summary criminal proceedings.

COMPLAINT, crim. law. The allegation made to a proper officer, that some person, whether known or unknown, has been guilty of a designated offence, with an offer to prove the fact, and a request that the offender may be punished.
     2. To have a legal effect, the complaint must be supported by such evidence as shows that an offence has been committed, and renders it certain or probable that it was committed by the person named or described in the complaint.

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Private complaint means   On 08 May 2014     8 Replies     Report
jakkireddysureshreddy View Profile My Other Post Education

 Likes: 1
Points: 519


What is meant by a private complaint?Where and how to file it?Is there any separate form to file it?Kindly advice me?

  Reply    To activate Click to Talk, e-mail at lciconnect@  

    On 08 May 2014   
rajendra View Profile My Other Post na

 Likes: 19
Points: 729

private compliant will be filed in court under section 156 in case police people refuse to register the FIR..


  On 09 May 2014   
adv.raghavan View Profile My Other Post Advocate,9444674980

 Likes: 112
Points: 3645

Private complaint means, complaint filed by the party before a magistrate referring IPC sections. It has to be filed under section 190 crpc and the court on taking cognizance of the complaint may order for investigation under 156 crpc.

  Reply        On 09 May 2014   
Lawyer SALEEMA KABEER View Profile My Other Post Advocate Madras High Court & Legal Consultant Chennai Law in Law Firm. +91-9698884779
 Likes: 29
Points: 1272

Private Complaint means any allegation made  orally or in writing before a magistrate against one or more known or unknown person with a view  to take action for the commission of offence.


But it does not include police report.

  Reply        On 17 May 2014   
Sidharth Arora View Profile My Other Post EXPERT/ADVOCATE 9560601768
 Likes: 3
Points: 311

Adv.Raghavan has inadvertantly used a wrong technical word....order u/s. 156 (3) is at pre cognizance stage....if cognizance has been taken the only recourse possible to order inquiry is S.202 cr.pc.



  Reply        On 17 May 2014   
adv.raghavan View Profile My Other Post Advocate,9444674980

 Likes: 112
Points: 3645

I have not used the section wrongly or inadvertently , i think what i have stated is according to law and normal practice being followed. Kindly enclosed  two judgement in regard.

Re.: Aleque Padamsee and others v. Union of India and others, (2007) 6 SCC 171  where it was observed that the correct position in law is that the Police officials are to register a FIR whenever the facts brought to the notice show that cognizable offence has been made out. In case the Police officials fail to do so, the modalities to be adopted are set out in  S. 190 CrPC  read with  S. 200 CrPC .



Therefore, if a person is aggrieved by the inaction of Police officials in not registering a FIR, the modalities contained in  S. 190 CrPC  read with  S. 200 CrPC  are to be adopted and followed.



Re.: Sakiri Vasu v. State of UP and others, 2008 (1) RCR (Crl.) 392  it was observed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that if a person has a grievance that the Police Station is not registering his FIR under  S. 154 CrPC , then he can approach the Superintendent of Police under  S. 154(3) CrPC  by an application in writing. Even if that does not lead to any satisfactory result in the sense that either the FIR is not registered or even after registering it no proper investigation is held, it is open to the aggrieved person to file such application under  S. 156(3) CrPC  before the learned Magistrate concerned. If such an application under  S. 156(3) CrPC is filed before the Magistrate, the Magistrate can direct the FIR to be registered and can also direct proper investigation to be made in a case where, according to the aggrieved person, no proper investigation was made.

  Reply        On 17 May 2014   
manish jeswani View Profile My Other Post lawyer

 Likes: 2
Points: 90

I agree with adv siddharth ... investigation under section 156(3) can be ordered at pre cognizance stage and not after taking cognizance/post cognizance as claimed by adv raghavan.

Complaint is defined under section 2(d) of crpc. 

  Reply        On 17 May 2014   
manish jeswani View Profile My Other Post lawyer

 Likes: 2
Points: 90

Definition is rightly reproduced by adv saleema

  Reply        On 17 May 2014   
Sidharth Arora View Profile My Other Post EXPERT/ADVOCATE 9560601768
 Likes: 3
Points: 311

Adv. Raghavan you are not appreciating my contention. i am not rebutting the recourse to 156(3) when police does not register a case etc.

I am contending that once cognizance is taken a report u/s. 156(3) cannot be sought by the concerned magistrate....such a report is to be sought before taking cognizance not after...


Hope you will correct your observation and not argue further on the same point.




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