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Reporting a crime to the police

If the police or the public prosecutor's office find out about a possible crime, investigative proceedings will be initiated. The police and the public prosecutor's office are legally bound to do so.

Criminal Charge

Normally, investigative proceedings are initiated by a criminal charge. A criminal charge may be filed by you as the aggrieved person and by any citizen, orally or in writing, with the police, the public prosecution office or the local courts. As aggrieved person,you may request a written confirmation of your criminal charge which shall include your statements on time and place of the offence and on the reported offence. For this purpose, you have to submit an application.

If you as an aggrieved person cannot understand or speak the German language sufficiently, you have the right to obtain assistance for communication in order to file the criminal charge in a language you can understand. On your request, the written confirmation of your criminal charge will also be translated.

If a crime is suspected, e.g. after a police action or after an emergency call, the public prosecution office and the police may initiate investigations even if no criminal charge has been filed. In this context, it is irrelevant if you as the aggrieved person have any objections to the criminal prosecution.

Initiation of Criminal Proceedings

There are only a few crimes where criminal proceedings can only be initiated if you as the aggrieved person initiate the criminal proceedings. By the initiation of criminal proceedings, you declare to the police and the public prosecution office that you want the criminal prosecution of the perpetrator. Such criminal offences prosecuted only upon initiation by the victim include, for example,

  • Trespass or
  • Defamation

You can file an initiation of criminal proceedings within three months after gaining knowledge of the offence. The initiation of criminal proceedings must be filed in writing to be valid.

If you have initiated criminal proceedings, you can also withdraw them later. This withdrawal is final, i.e., after withdrawing the initiation of criminal proceedings, you cannot initiate criminal proceedings again for the same offence.

If you want to ensure that a criminal prosecution is initiated, you should initiate criminal proceedings.