Criminal Law

Victim advocacy

In Germany, not only the (alleged) perpetrators of a crime have the right to legal representation, but also the injured parties, victims and witnesses. Practice shows that especially these injured persons of a crime need legal assistance.

If you have been the victim of a crime, do not hesitate to contact us. From a one-time consultation about your legal options to the filing of a criminal complaint or the filing of an accessory action, we will empathically assist you in order to make the right decisions for you individually and to support you during the proceedings with our legal expertise as well as emotionally.

Filing a criminal complaint 

As soon as the criminal prosecution authorities become aware of life events that may be of criminal significance, they are obliged to investigate the matter in question on the basis of the so-called principle of legality (Section 152 II of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

When citizens inform the police or the public prosecutor’s office about the possible existence of a criminal offense, one often speaks only of the fact that an offense has been reported. In the legal sense, however, a distinction is actually made between the existence of a criminal complaint (§ 158 I StPO) and a criminal complaint (§§ 77 ff. StGB).

Criminal charges can be filed by anyone who wishes to bring a possible criminal offense to the attention of the police, regardless of the form or deadline. It does not matter why the person himself knows about the facts – he may be a witness or victim, for example, or the events may simply have been brought to his attention by a third party. Once the criminal complaint has been filed, the decision on further steps lies exclusively with the investigating authorities. Once a criminal complaint has been filed, it can therefore no longer be withdrawn.

A criminal complaint, on the other hand, must be filed in writing by the injured party to a criminal offense within a period of three months. A criminal complaint is relevant if the injured party commits a criminal offense that does not have to be prosecuted ex officio by the police and the public prosecutor’s office. This is the case, for example, with an insult or a trespass. Here, the filing of a criminal complaint is indispensable. A criminal complaint can be withdrawn at any time until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

Especially in the case of long and complicated facts, it is worthwhile to obtain a lawyer’s assessment and to structure the course of events with regard to all significant aspects and to have them legally examined. On the one hand, this speeds up the proceedings and, on the other hand, ensures that the police and the public prosecutor’s office are aware of all facts relevant to the criminal assessment.

Particularly as the injured party of a criminal act, it is in one’s own interest to achieve a conviction at the end of the proceedings. The chances of achieving this increase immensely with a professionally formulated criminal complaint. In addition, it is possible from the outset to simultaneously consider claims for damages and compensation for pain and suffering under civil law.

Whether you file a criminal complaint or a criminal complaint: We will gladly support you in initiating criminal proceedings, inform you about all further possible steps and, if necessary, also be there for you throughout the further proceedings.

Witness Assistance

Do you have a subpoena to testify as a witness in criminal proceedings and are unsure what obligations come with this letter? Do you want to know whether you have to comply with the summons and testify as a witness? Are you worried about incriminating yourself or a family member? We will be happy to help you!

According to § 68b StPO (German Code of Criminal Procedure), as a witness you have the right to consult a lawyer as witness counsel.

At every stage of the proceedings, we will accompany you to your hearing before the police, the public prosecutor’s office or the court. We will explain your rights and obligations to you in advance, explain the course of the upcoming hearing, prepare you for it and thus relieve your anxiety about the unknown situation.

Due to our experience we can support you in the interrogation situation and already by our presence cause that the respective interrogator, your rights comprehensively preserves. In addition, we have the right to object to inadmissible and suggestive questions and to prevent you from answering questions that you should not have answered.

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to request access to the files on your behalf. We will be happy to discuss this possibility with you, as well as the possibility of assigning a witness counsel at the expense of the public purse. Such an assignment can be considered in particular if it is evident that you cannot exercise your rights during the hearing yourself and that your interests worthy of protection cannot be taken into account in any other way.

We will also be happy to advise you on the question of the existence of a possible right to refuse to testify and/or to give evidence.

Under special circumstances, measures for the protection of the witness should be considered. This includes, for example, the exclusion of the public or individual persons. Removal of the defendant during questioning (Section 274 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) might also be appropriate. If appropriate protective measures appear necessary, we will communicate this to the court at an early stage.

Accessory prosecution

As the injured party of a criminal act, you have the possibility of joining the subsequent criminal proceedings by means of a so-called Nebenklage. An accessory action is possible, for example, in the case of sexual offenses, bodily injury offenses and offenses against the person. Parents, children, siblings and the spouse or partner of a person killed by an unlawful act have the same right.

Pursuant to Section 397a (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO), a lawyer may be appointed at the state’s expense to assist plaintiffs who are particularly deserving of protection. This may be the case, for example, in criminal offenses such as particularly serious cases of sexual abuse of children (Sections 176a, 176b of the Criminal Code), sexual coercion and rape (Section 177 of the Criminal Code), attempted homicide and the killing of close relatives. The assignment of a victim’s attorney at state expense frees you from any financial risk.

The secondary action serves to improve the rights of the injured party in criminal proceedings against the perpetrator. It gives the injured person the opportunity not to face the criminal in the role of a “victim”, which often serves the psychological overcoming of the consequences of the crime.

with special rights. Among other things, you have the right to participate fully in the main hearing, to ask questions of the defendant, witnesses and experts, to take evidence, to inspect files, to appeal the verdict and to claim compensation for the consequences of the crime. As a result of these rights, it is possible for you to actively influence the proceedings. The Nebenklage thus represents an important instrument for you as the injured party to be able to participate in the criminal proceedings.

When we act as legal counsel for you, we also assume a special procedural position during the proceedings. On the basis of this, we are also entitled, among other things, to our own right to ask questions and to request evidence.

Furthermore, it is possible to request the exclusion of the public during your hearing or to request that your hearing take place in the absence of the defendant.

Joining as a joint plaintiff also offers the possibility of asserting claims for damages and compensation for pain and suffering already in the criminal proceedings taking place (adhesion proceedings), so that a separate assertion in time-consuming civil proceedings becomes unnecessary.

A declaration of affiliation as an accessory prosecution is possible at any stage of the proceedings (in most cases, however, it should be made as early as possible, i.e. during the preliminary proceedings) and can also be withdrawn at any time.

After the proceedings, a convicted defendant generally bears the costs incurred by the accessory prosecution.

Protection against violence

Have you become the victim of domestic violence or are you being stalked by another person? Do you hardly dare to go out of the door for fear of meeting this person? Are you being insulted and threatened? In all these cases, we can apply for a court order for you under the Protection Against Violence Act.

Such an order under the Protection Against Violence Act does not only come into consideration when something has actually already happened, but can already be applied for preventively. This gives you the opportunity to prevent criminal acts against you or, if you have already been the victim of a criminal act, to protect you from further acts of violence.

After the application has been made, the competent court can make various orders. The defendant can, for example, be prohibited from the following acts (cf. Section 1 (1) sentence 3 nos. 1 to 5 GewSchG):

  • Entering the applicant’s home,
  • Staying within a certain radius of the applicant’s home,
  • Going to a certain place where the applicant regularly stays (e.g. the workplace),
  • Contacting the applicant (in person, in writing, by telephone, through third parties, etc.).

In most cases, the order is issued in the shortest possible time after the application is filed, the respondent is not heard in the summary proceedings, and no oral hearing is held (unless the respondent requests that an oral hearing be held after the order is issued to present his or her view of the matter).