When submitting a state police report, it is imperative that it be accurate and well-written, because you are participating in a process with a high likelihood of being introduced to the criminal or civil litigation process, if not both. Whether you are a law enforcement professional or a citizen filing a police report, follow a few rules to guarantee a successful court experience.

In a careful and accurate manner, complete the section of the report requiring the identification of the parties involved the incident. A standard police report should include the section for identifying the participating parties near the top of the report. This section is especially vital, as this information could be used in the future to serve involved individuals with court papers.

Fill out the report narrative, keeping in mind two rules: The 4-C rule calls for the narrative to be completed in a clear, complete, concise and correct manner. The second rule requires the writer to ensure the narrative details the how, when, where, what and who of the incident. If you follow these two rules, you will produce a document that is professional in appearance and provides the details necessary for prosecuting officials to present a credible case.

Sign and date the report.

Make a copy of the report prior to submitting it to the appropriate office. Place this copy in a secure location and ensure that you periodically review the report in order to keep the events of the incident clearly organized in your mind. You should also carefully review your report prior to participating in a deposition or court testimony. Opposition attorneys will likely aggressively exploit any inconsistencies that appear between your testimony and your report.

Submit the report in a timely manner. Failing to file the report in a reasonable time period may result in questions being raised by defense attorneys and create the perception of inappropriate conduct, such as the manipulation of a report to reflect an agenda.