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Denunciation of the facts

You can press charges, make a complaint in writing or verbally denounce directly.

A written complaint

A written complaint can allow you to signal the facts for which you cannot legally press charges for as they are not considered criminal offences, or equally if you do not wish to press charges for them.

A written complaint is a simple declaration at The Police at la Sûreté Publique which has no legal follow-up : no case is opened, nor is it transmitted to the General Procurer.

Your deposition will be registered with all written complaints at The Police at la Sûreté Publique.

These formalities do not lead to legal proceedings against the perpetrator; but they will be useful, if you envisage to follow-up on this situation of violence or ask for a divorce.
A written complaint can be used as material first proof in a future procedure.

You are advised to ask a Policeman to give you the number of your registered written complaint. It will be useful if you wish to ask the General Procurer, at the Palais de Justice, 5 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro, for a copy which you must request in writing.

Pressing charges

Pressing charges is an act by which a person signals to the Police or Procurer the facts that they esteem that they have been victim of.

Pressing charges sets in motion a legal procedure and can lead to the penal conviction of the perpetrator of violence.

You can press charges with:

  • The Police at la Direction de la Sûreté Publique - open 24/7 (9 rue Suffren Reymond) Telephone 24/7 at 93 15 30 15
  • The General Procurer by post at the Palais de Justice, 5 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro
  • The Examining Magistrate

Specify in your complaint:

  • The nature of, the date and location of the offence, as well as the identity and the address of eventual witnesses, etc.;
  • The name of the person accused. If you know them, by default, you can press charges “against X”.

Join together all elements of proof:

  • Medical certificates documenting injuries, sick leave;
  • In the case of material damage, expert or bailiff reports, diverse bills (e.g. repair costs, etc.)

Pressing charges can also be done by a lawyer on your behalf.

If you press charges at The Police at la Sûreté Publique, a confirmation receipt must be given to you, as well as a copy of your official deposition, if you make the request, in writing, to the General Procurer.

Warning: You are only allowed a certain time limit before you lose your rights to use the penal justice system (this is known as prescription).  This time limit which begins at the time of when the infraction was committed is, in principal, one year regarding fines, three years regarding small crimes and 10 years regarding crimes.

You can either:

  • Press charges, at The Police at la Sûreté Publique or at the General Procurer;
  • Press charges by bringing a civil action against your attacker, with an Examining Magistrate, who sets up a deposit to cover the fees of your procedure where you must be not found guilty;
  • Act by a direct summons, by contacting a bailiff.

a) Pressing Charges

When you press charges, it only concerns beginning a legal procedure in order to obtain a penal sanction by the perpetrator of this crime.

b) Pressing Charges by bringing a civil action against your attacker

This constitutes a “civil action” which allows you to be considered as the “civil party” in the penal procedure, so that you can participate and defend your interests,
Pressing charges by bringing a civil action against your attacker allows you to obtain compensation for the damage that you have suffered following an offence: reimbursement of replacement or refurbishment fees or, medical expenses, medication or others and eventually obtaining the damages.

The bringing of a civil action against your attacker can intervene at the moment of pressing charges at The Police at la Sûreté Publique or the General Procurer, either before the Examining Magistrate or either finally later before the repression jurisdiction.

It is this method of pressing charges with bringing a civil action against your attacker that is advised when damage exists.

c) Following Pressing Charges

After the investigation, The Police at la Sûreté Publique, will transmit your pressed charges to the General Procurer.

The General Procurer is the only one who can decide the outcome of your pressed charges and will inform you of their decision.

The General Procurer can decide:

  • To take the perpetrator to justice, by demanding directly that they appear before the specialised court. You will be notified of the date of the court case where the perpetrator will be judged.
  • To open a legal procedure (this procedure is obligatory if you have been victim of a crime). An Examining Magistrate will be designated to you.
  • To close your pressed charges: for example if the perpetrator of the infraction can not be identified or if the proof of the infraction cannot be established. In this case, the Procurer will address to you their notification to close your file without further action. They can go back on their decision, up to the limit of prescription of the offence, notably in the case of new elements brought to their attention.