1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

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How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

If you become a victim of a crime, you can report it:

  • to the police;
  • directly to the public prosecutor.

Although anybody can report a crime, if you want to join the proceedings as a civil claimant, you have to report the crime personally or through your lawyer.

You can also directly call the offender before the Police Court or the District Court’s Chamber of Summary Jurisdiction.

Your report has to be submitted in one of Luxembourg’s official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. If you do not speak any of those, you have the right to an interpreter free of charge. Your report needs to be in writing, without any particular form, and to include:

  • your name, date of birth, profession and address;
  • description of the facts;
  • description of the harm suffered.

The deadline, within which you should report a crime, depends on the type of offence (1) committed against you and is from one to ten years.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

When you submit a crime report to the police, you are given a copy of it free of charge immediately or within one month after you submit it. You or your lawyer may inquire by phone or letter what has happened to the report.

When you submit a report to the public prosecutor, it is given a reference number, which you or your lawyer can request. Within 18 months after receiving the report, the prosecutor will notify you about the steps taken on the matter, including the case, when the report is archived and the reasons for that.

You can request from the court deciding on the matter that an investigation should be carried out or that property or funds should be frozen.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

You can be involved in the investigation as a victim with no special status in the proceedings or as a civil claimant. As a civil claimant, you can claim damages from the offender and have some additional rights, as compared to the victim. You do not have to prove any elements of the crime committed in either capacity. You just have to give information about the facts of the crime and their relation to the harm you have suffered.

As a victim, you can:

  • be heard as a witness by the authorities, performing criminal investigation (2) – the police criminal investigation unit or the investigating magistrate – in a language you understand, making use of documents in your possession;
  • upon authorisation by the public prosecutor, have your testimony recorded or videotaped, after you or your legal representative give consent, so that you are not re-traumatised by repeating it several times throughout the proceedings;
  • have interpretation free of charge, if you do not speak any of Luxembourg’s official languages;
  • be represented by a lawyer;
  • receive a copy of your statement free of charge immediately or within a month of your hearing;
  • ask that relevant documents be attached to the case file;
  • join the proceedings before the investigating magistrate as a civil claimant;
  • if no proceedings take place, submit a motion to the Prosecutor General to request investigation from the public prosecutor.

As a civil claimant, you have the right:

  • to participate in the investigation, carried out by the investigating magistrate;
  • to request that the magistrate performs additional investigative actions;
  • to appeal against investigative actions, that affect your civil interests, before the appeal court in closed session;
  • to be heard only if you ask to;
  • to confront the offender, if necessary;
  • to look at the case file, in the office of the investigating magistrate, after the first hearing of the offender and one day before any additional action, for which legal advice is allowed;
  • to apply to the investigating magistrate that case file documents be sent to you;
  • to have a copy of the case file after the investigation is finished;
  • to request expert’s opinion, hearing of witnesses and returning of seized property;
  • to attend the inspection of the crime scene;
  • to request interim relief for the damage you suffered.

What are my rights as a witness?

If you are called for an interview as a witness you have to appear at the police criminal investigation unit or before the investigating magistrate and tell everything you know about the incident. You can make your statement in a language you understand.

Your testimony can be recorded or videotaped with your consent in order to avoid reliving several times the traumatising moments of the infraction of which you are victim or which you witnessed.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a minor, you have a number of additional rights:

  • for offence (1) such as indecent exposure, rape and human trafficking, sexual exploitation, homicide not qualified as murder, voluntary bodily harm, abuse and drugging, committed against you – to have the period, after which prosecution is no longer possible, only start to run after you reach majority;
  • if the protection of your interests is not completely ensured by at least one of your legal representatives, to have a special representative appointed by the public prosecutor or the investigating magistrate; your special representative ensures the protection of your interests and exercises your rights as a civil claimant;
  • to have the information on the opening of criminal proceedings and on your right to become a civil claimant given to your legal representatives or special representative;
  • upon authorisation by the public prosecutor, to have your testimony recorded or videotaped, after you or your legal or special representative give consent, so that you are not re-traumatised by repeating it several times throughout the proceedings; recording is obligatory in cases of crimes, related to indecent exposure or rape, prostitution, exploitation and human trafficking, murder, voluntary homicide, bodily harm, assault and battery, unless the prosecutor decides otherwise, based on an objection by you or your representative;
  • to be accompanied to your hearings by an adult of your choice, unless the prosecutor decides otherwise in your interest or in the interest of revealing the truth.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

As a victim, the police will inform you in a language you understand about:

  • upon request, the fact that investigation has been opened;
  • your right to be assisted by victim assistance services;
  • your right to obtain reparation for the harm suffered;
  • your right to receive legal aid under the conditions, provided for by the law;
  • the fact that your file is archived without follow-up and the reasons for that.

As a civil claimant, the investigating magistrate will inform you about the measures he/she intends to take, particularly if he/she intends to visit the crime scene.

Can I receive legal aid?

If you do not have sufficient financial resources, in view of the minimum guaranteed income, you have the right to free legal aid organised by the Bar Council, if you want such and if you are:

  • a citizen of Luxembourg;
  • a foreign citizen, authorised to settle in the country;
  • a citizen of an EU Member State;
  • a third-country citizen having the right to legal aid in Luxembourg in accordance with an international treaty.

In order to determine your resources, your gross income is taken into account, as well as the resources of the persons you live together with. Besides your resource situation, you may also be given legal aid for other serious reasons, concerning your social, family or material situation.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

You can be protected by the investigating magistrate placing the offender in preventive detention, if:

  • the offence is punishable by imprisonment of two or more years and especially
  • if there is a risk that he/she will re-offend.

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

You have the right to be assisted by various Link opens in new windowvictim assistance services. State assistance is provided through the Victim Assistance Service with the Prosecutor’s Office, which would welcome you and offer you social, psychological and legal assistance free of charge. There are also NGOs, which would offer you aid, if you are a woman or child, subjected to violence, a disabled person, etc.

You can also call two hotlines – one for victims in general (+352 475821-628/627) and one directed specifically at youth and children (+352 12345).

You can receive medical assistance but you need to pay for it unless you have valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card.

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

Mediation between the offender and yourself is only possible before public prosecution has begun. The prosecutor can decide whether it is appropriate to engage in mediation, if it would ensure reparation of the harm you have suffered, end the problems the offence has caused and lead to the rehabilitation of the offender. Mediation is not possible if the offender is a person with whom you live.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

After the investigating magistrate finishes the investigation, the case goes to the Court Chambers. The Chambers determine when the investigation should end and whether to transfer the case to the court. The Chambers may decide to transfer the case to court or not to do so, if the act does not constitute an offence, the offender has remained unknown or there is insufficient evidence against the defendant.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

If the Court Chambers decide not to transfer the criminal case to the court, you can appeal that decision before the Appeal Court’s Court Chambers.

You also have the right to submit to the Court Chambers briefs, written requests and statements.

If the Court Chambers dismiss the case only for reasons of fact and not for reasons of law, you can still approach the civil court to obtain reparation for the harm you have suffered.

When the public prosecutor decides to archive the case without follow-up, you, as civil claimant, can approach the investigating magistrate or the court (Police Court, District Magistrate’s Court or District Criminal Court), by direct summons of the offender.

You can always quit being a civil claimant in the proceedings, but you cannot stop public prosecution, unless it concerns offences such as defamation and slander.

If you are not a civil claimant, you can also withdraw your complaint, but public prosecution will usually continue.

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

If you are a foreigner, you can, in particular, benefit from the following additional rights:

  • to have an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak any of Luxembourg’s official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German;
  • to have legal aid free of charge, if you do not have sufficient financial resources and you are a foreign citizen authorised to settle in the country, a citizen of an EU Member State or a third-country citizen having the right to legal aid in Luxembourg in accordance with an international treaty.

More information:

  • Criminal Investigation Code (Code d’Instruction Criminelle) – in Link opens in new windowFrench
  • Law of 10 August 1991 on the Lawyer’s Profession (10 août 1991. – Loi sur la profession d’avocat) – in Link opens in new windowFrench
Notes:

1. Types of offences
In Luxembourg, there are three types of offences, depending on their gravity. For each of these types there is a different period of time (called “prescription period”), after the expiry of which it is impossible to initiate criminal proceedings:
· crimes cannot be prosecuted once ten years have elapsed since the date they were committed or the date of the last investigative action the authorities took. However, for crimes such as indecent exposure, rape and human trafficking committed against minors, the period does not begin to run until the minors reach majority;
· offences cannot be prosecuted once five years have elapsed since the date they were committed or the date of the last investigative action the authorities took. However, for sexual exploitation, homicide not qualified as murder, voluntary bodily harm, abuse and drugging committed against minors, the period does not begin to run until the minors reach majority;
· minor offences cannot be prosecuted once 12 months have elapsed from the date they were committed.

2. Authorities performing criminal investigation
The police criminal investigation unit works under the direction of the public prosecutor and is responsible for proving offences, gathering evidence and searching for offenders until a preliminary judicial investigation starts. Afterwards, it carries out the instructions of the investigating tribunal.
The investigating magistrate, leading the judicial investigation, cannot open it until he/she receives from the public prosecutor a bill of indictment or a report to which a victim has been joined as a civil claimant. If the magistrate is not in a position to perform the investigation himself/herself, he/she can request that officers of the police criminal investigation unit perform parts of it.

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Last update: 08/11/2018