Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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Can I appeal against the decision at the trial?

Yes. The rule is that you can appeal against conviction by a lower court. The appeal can only be against the conviction and the sentence.

How? Who to? What time limits apply?

By submitting an appeal to the Appeal Court (Tribunal da Relação) or to the Supreme Court. The time limit to submit an appeal is 20 days.

What are the grounds of appeal?

As a rule, an appeal must be based on information known to the court when reaching its judgment.

What happens if I appeal?

If you appeal against a final judgment the decision will, as a rule, be suspended.

What happens if I am in prison when I appeal?

The judgment remains suspended and you remain in prison on remand, subject to the usual time limits.

How long will it be before the appeal is heard?

There is no set time limit, but appeals are heard within a reasonable period: two to six months.

Can I produce new evidence for the appeal? What rules apply?

As a rule, no, you cannot produce new evidence for the appeal. You can however do this if the appeal is for a retrial when, after the judgment has become final, new and relevant information comes to light which could result in the judgment being overturned. Both the appeal and the circumstances are exceptional.

What happens at the appeal hearing?

As a rule, appeals are not heard in open court. The Court considers the process and decision against which the appeal is made, assesses the claims made by the parties concerned and how well-founded they may be, and reaches its decision.

What can the court decide?

The Appeal Court can confirm the lower court’s finding of innocence or guilt, change the finding, or send the case back for retrial.

What happens if my appeal is successful/fails?

If the appeal is successful, you only have to wait until the decision becomes final. If the appeal fails, you can in certain cases appeal to the Supreme Court.

If the first decision was wrong, will I get any compensation?

Anyone who has been wrongfully detained, remanded in custody or assigned to residence may demand compensation for damages when the loss of liberty was unlawful or the result of gross error. Getting such compensation from the State is not easy.

If my appeal is successful, will a record be kept of the conviction?

No. If the court clears you, no record will be kept.

Is further appeal possible if the first appeal fails?

No appeal is possible against a decision of the Appeal Court confirming the judgment of a lower court in a case where the sentence was eight years in prison or less. Similarly, there is no appeal against a decision of the Appeal Court confirming the judgment of a lower court in a case where no prison sentence was passed. An appeal can be made against a decision of the Appeal Court confirming the judgment of a lower court in a case where the sentence was more than eight years in prison.

When is the conviction final?

Once the time limit for any ordinary appeal has passed.

I am from another Member State. Can I be sent back there after the trial?

Under certain circumstances, after the trial you can be extradited to serve your sentence in the Member State which demanded the extradition.

In what circumstances?

Where you have been convicted of a crime, or an attempted crime which is punishable in the requesting Member State by not less than one year in prison. The time remaining to be served must be not less than four months.

Is transfer automatic?

No. The extradition procedure must come first.

What conditions apply?

The extradition procedure includes an administrative stage and a judicial stage. The administrative stage is to enable the Minister of Justice to evaluate the extradition request and decide whether to approve it, bearing in mind the guarantees offered. The judicial stage is for the Court. If there is an appeal against the final decision, the Supreme Court decides. Any appeal suspends the decision to extradite.

If I am convicted, can I be tried again for the same crime?


Can I be tried in another Member State for the same crime?

That depends on the law of the other Member State. Not in Portugal.

Will information about the charges and/or the conviction be added to my criminal record?

Convictions are added to the defendant’s criminal record.

How and where will that information be held?

Portuguese criminal records are held at the central registry of the Criminal Identification Service.

How long will it be held?

That depends on the seriousness of the crime.

Can it be held without my consent?


Can I object to the holding of the information?

When the sentence is non-custodial or less than a year in prison, the defendant can apply to the Court for the conviction not to be mentioned on certificates produced in support of job applications.

Last update: 04/10/2021

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