Note: this article contains
dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!
Found it here:
The path to a public (state-funded) prosecution starts with a report to the law enforcement agency for the crime’s jurisdiction. If an officer decides the report is genuine, the agency will investigate it at no charge to you. Any evidence you offer may be seized as part of that investigation. At that point, you’re depending on the good faith of the officers involved; if the accused is in their midst, that person may be tipped off or protected. Alternatively, the law enforcement agency may determine they have a case against the accused, and arrest him. The prosecution of the case will then be turned over to a state-appointed prosecutor, who likewise may have his own interest in protecting the accused.
A private prosecution cuts out the middle-men. You gather your evidence, and convince the court that you have a reasonable chance of convicting the accused. You then deliver a summons to the accused, and if he pleads not guilty in the first court appearance, you prosecute him yourself.
A criminal conviction assures the success of a civil suit against the convicted. The standards of proof are much lower for civil than criminal cases.
Something to consider should you ever hear about a case where there’s clear wrong-doing by “law enforcement officials” but their “internal investigation” clears them of any wrong-doing.