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Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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When is an investigation conducted?

An investigation can be initiated when:

  • the victim of a crime files a complaint;
  • another person reports the crime;
  • the police find evidence that a crime has been committed;
  • the police capture a person who committed or is in the process of committing a crime.

What is the purpose of the investigation?

The purpose of a criminal investigation is to take evidence about the existence of crimes, the identity of the perpetrators and their accountability. Following an investigation and depending on its findings, a decision will be taken not to proceed with prosecution or to prosecute.

What are the stages of a criminal investigation?

Initiating the criminal investigation and questioning the accused

This step marks the beginning of the criminal process. In this situation, the police officer or the prosecutor summons the person suspected of having committed a crime in order to inform him/her of the charges against him /her.

Restriction of movement and deprivation of liberty

During the investigation, under certain conditions strictly established under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused can be forbidden to leave the locality or the country, or can be taken into custody for 24 hours or arrested for a maximum of 30 days.

Taking of evidence by the prosecution and the defence

The taking of evidence is the purpose of the entire investigation. The task of taking evidence falls upon the criminal investigation bodies (police or prosecutors). They are required to collect any evidence, both against and in favour of the accused.

Access to evidence taken during the investigation and prosecution of the case

This step marks the completion of the investigation. When the case is considered ready for trial, after the completion of the criminal investigation, the accused has the right to consult the entire case file, containing all evidence against or in his/her favour.

Who carries out each stage?

The criminal investigation is carried out either by the police or by the prosecutor (criminal investigation body). Depending on the crimes under investigation, the criminal investigation may be conducted by the police, under the supervision of the prosecutor, or directly by the prosecutor, assisted by the police.

My rights during the criminal investigation

Throughout the criminal investigation you are entitled to be assisted by a lawyer, you have the right not to answer any questions, as well as the right to make statements and submit evidence in your defence.

For more information about your rights during the various stages of the proceedings, click on the links below:

Initiating the criminal investigation and questioning the accused (1)

When can the police or prosecutors ask me to make a statement?

If the police or prosecutors believe that you have information regarding crime which has been committed or that you might be involved in a crime, they can ask you to make a statement. A person is called before the investigation body or the court by (written or telephone) summons, which must include the capacity in which the person is summoned (accused, witness, suspect, party, etc.).

If I am asked to make a statement, does this mean that a criminal investigation has been initiated against me?

Before the criminal investigation is initiated, a preliminary investigation can be conducted. In this context, the investigator may ask people to provide statements without an investigation being under way against them.

When can a criminal investigation be initiated against me?

When there is sufficient evidence that you have committed or taken part in a crime, the criminal investigation can be initiated. This marks the beginning of the criminal process. A police officer or prosecutor will summon you to notify you of the charges against you. At that moment, the indictment is made public.

What happens if I don't speak the local language?

The charges are notified in a language the accused understands. If you do not understand the language, an interpreter will be provided free of charge. The interpreter will translate the questions asked by the police officer or the prosecutor, and your answers.

Can I be assisted by a lawyer?

Before making the first statement, you must be informed that you have the right to be assisted by a lawyer of your own choice or a lawyer appointed for you. .

What is the significance of the notification of the charges?

Following initiation of the criminal process and notification of the charges, the accused has a new status, with specific rights and obligations.

When and in what circumstances can I be questioned?

After being informed of the charges brought against you, you can be questioned. There can be several interviews, at different stages of the investigation. If you do not speak Romanian, an interpreter will be provided for you.

What rights apply?

You will be informed that:

  • you have the right not to make any statements,
  • that anything you say may be used against you;
  • you have the right to be assisted by a lawyer during questioning.

Before any questioning, if you agree to make a statement, you handwrite a statement concerning the charges brought against you. You are first allowed to declare everything you consider relevant to the case, without being asked any questions.

What happens during questioning?

After making the statement, you can be asked questions regarding the crime under investigation and the charges. You will also be asked what evidence you intend to submit.

What happens if I have a medical problem during questioning?

If, during questioning, you complain of symptoms of a life threatening disease, the questioning will be interrupted and a doctor will be called. Questioning can resume as soon as the doctor declares that your life is not in danger.

How are declarations recorded?

Your statement is recorded in writing and consists of: the declaration handwritten by you and the typed declaration dictated by the investigator, following the actual questioning.

Each statement must mention when the interview began and ended.

The written statement will be read to you. If you agree with its content, you will be asked to sign each page and the end of the statement. If questioning was conducted through an interpreter, the interpreter must also sign the statement.

If you are unable to or refuse to sign, this will be mentioned in the written statement.

What happens if I have already been tried for the same offence in another Member State?

Usually, a person who has been finally convicted in a different Schengen State cannot be investigated or tried again for the same crime, if the final judgement has been or is being executed, or can no longer be enforced in accordance with the law of the state where the conviction was pronounced. In such cases, the double jeopardy principle applies.

Recognition of criminal judgements is regulated by the law on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters (see, in particular, Articles 10, 114¹, 115-121).

Restriction of movement and deprivation of liberty (2)

When can such measures be taken?

These measures can be taken only after the criminal trial has begun, but cannot be taken during the preliminary stages.

What measures restricting movement may be taken against me?

Your liberty can be restricted by ordering you not to leave the place where you live, or Romanian territory.

When can such measures be taken?

These measures can only be taken after hearing you in the presence of your lawyer and provided there is strong evidence or grounds to believe that you may have committed the crime.

What are my obligations?

The ban on leaving the locality or the country results in a set of obligations that should be observed for as long as the ban lasts.

You must appear whenever summoned, you are not allowed to relocate without notifying the authorities, or to possess, use or carry weapons.

Additional obligations can be imposed if necessary. Such measures can include: wearing an electronic monitoring system, prohibition against approaching certain persons or places, against driving certain vehicles, entering the home of the victim, or practising the profession, occupation or activity which led to the crime.

How long can restrictions on movement last?

The ban on leaving the locality or the country during the investigation cannot exceed 30 days. The measure can be extended only if necessary and justified. Each extension must be limited to 30 days and the total period of the measure cannot exceed one year.

In certain exceptional cases, when the crime charged is punishable with life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years or more, the maximum term of the restriction on movement is 2 years.

What happens if I fail to comply with the measures or obligations imposed upon me?

Intentional failure to comply with measures or obligations imposed upon you, throughout their duration, can lead to them being replaced with preventive custody.

What restrictions can be placed on my liberty and when?

You can be deprived of your liberty by detention or arrest. These measures can only be taken if there is reasonable evidence or grounds that you committed a crime and after you have been heard in the presence of a lawyer.

When might I be taken into custody or arrested?

You can be taken into custody or arrested in any of the following cases:

  • if you fled or are in hiding with the purpose of evading the investigation or the trial, or there are indications that you intend to flee or evade in any way the investigation, the trial or the enforcement of the judgement;
  • if you have intentionally failed to comply with the ban on leaving the locality or country of residence, or with the obligations imposed on you for the duration of these measures;
  • if you have intentionally attempted to directly or indirectly obstruct the finding of the truth by influencing a party, witness or expert, by destroying, altering or stealing evidence;
  • there are grounds to suspect that you are preparing to commit a new crime;
  • if you intentionally committed a new crime;
  • if there are grounds to suspect that you are pressuring the victim or attempting a fraudulent settlement;
  • there is evidence indicating that you present a real danger to public order.

You can also be taken into custody or arrested when the crime you are charged with is punishable with life imprisonment or imprisonment of 4 years or more.

If you are caught in the act of committing a crime, you will be arrested irrespective of the punishment set out in the law for that crime.

Who might take me into custody and for how long?

You can be taken into custody by a police officer or prosecutor for a maximum of 24 hours, only after a hearing in the presence of a lawyer.

Is it possible to extend the term? Can I make a complaint against this measure?

The preventive custody term cannot be extended. You can make a complaint within 24 hours. If the measure was ordered by a police officer, you can complain to the prosecutor.

If it was ordered by the prosecutor, the complaint should be directed to a hierarchically superior prosecutor.

The complaint should be settled before the 24 hours of preventive custody elapse.

Can I be arrested after being taken into custody?

If it is deemed necessary to arrest you after you have been taken into custody, the prosecutor must submit a justified proposal and the case file to the court.

The president of the court or the delegated judge will set a hearing for a decision on the proposal for preventive arrest, within 24 hours.

Who might arrest me and for how long?

The arrest can be ordered by the judge, only after hearing you in the presence of a lawyer. You can be arrested for up to 30 days. The preventive arrest term can be extended by the court. Each extension must be limited to 30 days and the total preventive arrest period cannot exceed 180 days during the investigation.

Can I appeal the arrest decision?

The decision allowing or refusing the proposal for arrest can be challenged by appeal within 24 hours; the appeal can be declared verbally during the hearing.

Can I contact a family member or my Embassy?

If you are arrested, the judge must inform a family member or another person designated by you about the action taken within 24 hours. This may include a person from the Embassy.

Can arrest be warranted if the accused is absent?

The arrest can be warranted even if you are absent, have disappeared, or are abroad or evading criminal investigation or trial.

If an arrest warrant is issued in your absence, and you cannot be brought to justice because your location is unknown or you are evading arrest, the authorisation to proceed with pursuit is granted. You will be heard as soon as you appear in court or are apprehended.

Can I apply for release pending trial?

If you are under preventive arrest, you have the right to apply for provisional release, under judicial control or on bail.

Provisional release may be granted if the crime was committed without intent or the crime committed with intent is punishable by up to 18 years of imprisonment.

Provisional release on bail may only be granted after deposit of the amount of money, in excess of 1,000 lei (approximately 250 euro), determined by the judge.

What happens if I am suffering from a serious illness?

If you suffer from a serious illness that prevents you from taking part in the criminal process, you have the right to request that the prosecutor suspends the criminal investigation.

Taking of evidence by the prosecution and the defence (3)

What is the purpose of taking evidence?

In the pursuit of truth, the investigator must clarify all aspects of the case based on evidence.

What types of evidence are acceptable?

Any factual element that determines the existence or non-existence of a crime helps to identify the person who committed the crime and to reveal the full circumstances necessary for the fair judgement of the case is considered evidence. Evidence is obtained by means of proof.

What exactly are means of proof?

There are various means of proof such as: testimonies of the accused, testimonies of the victim, testimonies of the witnesses, documents, audio or video recordings, photographs, material evidence, technical, scientific, forensic findings and opinions of expert witnesses.

Who takes evidence?

The task of taking evidence falls upon the criminal investigation body, police officer or prosecutor. They must gather proof both against and in favour of the accused.

What are my rights in relation to evidence?

You are presumed to be innocent until guilt has been established and you are not obliged to prove your innocence. However, you have the right to submit evidence and request the taking of evidence. The request to take evidence cannot be rejected if the item is conclusive and useful. If there is incriminating evidence against you, you have the right to attempt to disprove such evidence.

Can evidence be taken using violence or promises?

It is forbidden to use violence, threats, or any other forms of coercion, as well as promises or incentives, for the purpose of taking evidence. It is also forbidden to incite another person to commit a crime for the purpose of taking evidence.

Can evidence which has been obtained illegally be used against me?

Evidence which has been illegally obtained cannot be used in a criminal trial.

During the investigation, can I be asked to submit certain items?

Any person possessing items or documents that can serve as evidence in relation to a crime is required to submit it at the request of the investigator. If the items or documents are not submitted voluntarily, the investigator can order their removal.

Can there be a body search? To what end?

If you are required to hand over an item or a document which might be used as evidence in relation to a crime and you deny that it exists, the investigator may search your body, if there are reasonable grounds to do so.

What sort of searches can take place?

Your home and your car may be searched, as well as your body.

Who can authorise the search?

A search of your home or your car can only be authorised by the judge. A body search can be authorised by the police investigator, the prosecutor or the judge.

Can a search of my home or car be carried out at any time, including night time?

Removing items or documents and home searches can only be carried out between 6.00 a.m. to 08.00 p.m. If the search began during this time period, it may continue during the night. The search can be carried out at any time if it is conducted in a public place or a crime is in progress.

Access to evidence taken during the investigation and prosecution of the case (4)

When can I examine all the evidence in the file?

Once the investigation is finished, you have the right to examine the entire case file, containing all evidence in your favour or against you.

Access to the evidence should be provided in all cases, unless you are absent or evading criminal investigation.

How can I get access to the evidence taken during the investigation?

You will be notified of the legal classification of the crime committed. After that and as soon as possible, you will be given access to the evidence, in the presence of a lawyer. If you cannot read, the investigator has the duty to read out the evidence to you. If you do not understand Romanian, the court will provide an interpreter free of charge.

What are my rights in relation to examining the evidence?

After examining the evidence, you have the right to make new requests or additional statements. A report is prepared regarding the access to the evidence containing information, such as requests and statements made, answers provided by you. The report is signed by you and your lawyer.

What happens if I request new evidence in my defence?

The investigator has the duty to examine new requests and admit or dismiss them, as appropriate. If new evidence is admitted, or the legal classification of the crime is changed, you must be informed.

What is next after examining the evidence?

If the evidence taken indicates that the crime exists and was committed by you, and that you can be held criminally liable, the prosecutor issues the indictment to prosecute.

What does the indictment contain?

The indictment must contain several elements expressly provided by law, including: information about the accused, the charges, legal classification of the crime, evidence justifying the charges, any measures of movement restriction and deprivation of liberty taken and their duration, the decision to prosecute.

Will I receive a copy of the indictment?

You will not receive a copy. The court will serve the summons on you, stating the date of the trial. A copy of the indictment is only served on you if you are held in custody.

Related links

Ministry of Justice

Information for the foreign users

Last update: 15/02/2012

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