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What is criminal procedure?

A criminal procedure deals with offences and crimes. Certain rules have been broken and, if this is proven, a punishment should follow. Examples include driving through a red light, serious fraud or robbery with violence. The procedure differs depending on the seriousness of the offences.

Sometimes such offences also cause harm to a victim. In this case, the victim can file a civil suit to obtain compensation.

Offences and minor offences

  • The police who establishes the offence or receives the complaint draw up an official report.
  • The public prosecutor launches an investigation or dismisses the case.
  • In a criminal investigation, the public prosecutor conducts the investigation himself. Either he proposes an amicable settlement or, depending on the seriousness of the offence, the suspect is brought before the police court or the correctional court. In this case, a lawyer assumes his defence.
  • The court pronounces a verdict and a sentence.
  • The verdict can be appealed.

Serious crimes

  • If a serious crime is involved, the investigating judge conducts a judicial investigation.
  • Via an arrest warrant, he can remand the suspect in custody (max. 48 hours). The chambers must approve the arrest warrant.
  • After the investigation, it refers the suspect to the criminal court or the Assize Court. If there is insufficient evidence, the suspect is not prosecuted. If there is, the suspect appears before the criminal court.
  • The public prosecutor (prosecutor's office) demands the conviction of the accused on behalf of society. It must prove that the accused committed a crime.
  • Victims of the crime can file civil suits. Like the accused, the civil party is defended by a lawyer.
  • After hearing all the arguments, the court takes the case under advisement. Afterwards, it pronounces a verdict and sentence.
  • Those who disagree with the first instance verdict can appeal it to a higher court.
  • Again, the case is argued and a judgment and sentence follow. That judgment is final.

Most serious crimes

For the most serious crimes, a trial is held before the Assize Court.