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Defendants (criminal proceedings)


These factsheets explain what happens when a person is suspected or accused of a crime which is dealt with by a trial in court. For information on minor offences like road traffic offences, which are usually dealt with by a fixed penalty like a fine, go to Factsheet 5. If you are the victim of a crime, you can find full information about your rights here.

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Summary of the criminal process

The following is a summary of the normal stages in the criminal process.

  • Criminal investigation
  • Consideration of charges and the prosecutor’s other decisions
  • Trial in court
  • Enforcement of the sentence

Details about all of these stages in the process and about your rights can be found in the factsheets. This information is not a substitute for legal advice and is intended to be for guidance only.

Role of the European Commission

Please note that the European Commission has no role in criminal proceedings in Member States and cannot assist you if you have a complaint. Information is provided in these factsheets about how to complain and to whom.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

1 – Getting legal advice

2 – My rights during the investigation of a crime

  • Questioning
  • Arrest
  • First court hearing
  • Before the main hearing
  • Complaining about police actions
  • Linguistic rights

3 – My rights during the trial

4 – My rights after the court has made its decision

5 – Road traffic offences

Related links

Criminal process at the District Court

Last update: 19/05/2024

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