Who is the complainant in a criminal case?

In Austin, criminal defense attorneys often refer to an alleged victim as the “complainant” or “complaining witness,” even when the criminal complaint was actually filed by a police officer. Law enforcement, on the other hand, typically uses “complainant” to mean a person who called 9-1-1 or otherwise first reported an alleged offense to law enforcement.

As a general rule, the terms “alleged victim” and “complainant” are preferable if the accused has not been convicted of the alleged offense because the term “victim” on its own may unfairly presume that a crime actually occurred, which is often not true, especially in domestic violence cases.