Judicial proceedings consist of two phases:
In the interlocutory proceedings, the court takes over the "case" from the public prosecution office. You as the aggrieved person may be informed of this by the public prosecution office. The court taking over the proceedings will file a new reference number to the case.
Examination of the Penal Order
With the preferment of public charges or the application for the issuance of a penal order (written order), the public prosecutor will send all files and evidence to the selected court which will be responsible from then on. At first, the court will examine if a conviction of the accused is probable based on the evidence in the files.
If this is the case and if the public prosecution office has applied for the issuance of a penal order, the court will examine if it regards the punishment proposed by the public prosecution office as adequate. If the result of the examination is positive, the court will sign the penal order which will then be delivered to the accused as a written order. The accused may lodge an objection against this written order.
If the accused has lodged an objection against the penal order, the court will fix a date for the main hearing.
If the court does not regard the punishment proposed by the public prosecution office as adequate, it will initiate a main hearing.
Examination of the Public Charges
If the public prosecution office has preferred public charges, the court will deliver the public charges to the accused and give him/her the opportunity to comment on them once again. Afterwards, the responsible court will fix a date for the main hearing.
The accused, who is then designated as defendant, will never be required to contribute to his/her own conviction. He/she is entitled to make no reply or to present his/her own view of the offence and of the public charges to the public prosecution office even if it should deviate from the truth.
The main proceedings comprise the planning and the preparation of the main hearing, which is the most important part of the judicial proceedings, the summons of the necessary parties to the proceedings and the execution of the main hearing. The responsibility is vested in the court.
During the main hearing, proof must be offered that the accused has committed the offence, i.e. all evidence must be seen or heard. In most cases, this means that all witnesses, including you as the aggrieved person, have to give evidence (again) unless they have the right to refuse testimony. During this examination as well, you as the aggrieved person, may - on your request - be accompanied by a confidant, e.g. a friend or a professional advisor during your examination as witness (witness support, psychosocial process accompaniment, victim protection). A request of this type may be rejected in exceptional cases only. Such rejection must be justified. Additional evidence and witnesses or experts may be provided and introduced into the hearing by the public prosecution office, the accessory private prosecution, the defence and the accused persons.
The accused has the right to make statements and to comment on every piece of evidence and every witness.
The main hearing comprises the taking of evidence; the final speech for the prosecution, the accessory private prosecution – if applicable - and the defence; the last word of the accused; the deliberations of the court and the delivery of the judgment of the court, which shall be pronounced publicly.
The main hearing begins with the establishment of the identity of the persons present, the reading out of the public charges and the examination of the accused. During the judicial proceedings, the accused has the right to remain silent and is not obliged to comment on his/her perpetration of an offence or on his/her defence.
The subsequent hearing of evidence will be terminated after all evidence has been looked at, heard, considered and introduced and no additional evidence is regarded as necessary. The next steps are the final speeches, the last word of the accused; the deliberations of the court and the delivery of the judgment.
If the criminal offence was no felony, the court may terminate the proceedings and impose conditions and instructions upon the accused with the approval of the public prosecution, the accused and his/her defence, as applicable.
The main hearing ends with the judgment which will impose a punishment on the accused or acquit him/her. In addition to or instead of a conviction, the court may - in individual cases - order the placement of the accused in a psychiatric hospital, in an institution for withdrawal treatment or in preventive detention.