you are a victim

If you are the victim of a crime, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from an experienced criminal lawyer.

Possibility 1: A criminal investigation has not yet started:

First of all, we will check based on your story whether a crime was actually committed and, if so, which crime in particular. Then, together with you, we will consider which steps are best taken. Depending on the crime (in some cases you may also be the victim of multiple crimes) we will decide, in consultation with you, whether a criminal investigation should be launched.

There are 3 ways of doing this.

1. The least intrusive way is to file a complaint with the police or the public prosecutor’s office. The advantage is that this is relatively simple and cheap. The disadvantage is that the public prosecutor can simply dismiss your complaint.

2. Another way is to lodge a civil party complaintwith the investigating judge. In this case, however, a deposit must be paid to the judicial authorities, which will only be refunded if the complaint actually leads to prosecution. The advantage of this approach is that the investigating judge is obliged to open an effective investigation

following your complaint. The investigating judge cannot dismiss. After the investigation has been completed, another judge, the pretrial chamber, will decide whether there are sufficient objections to refer the case to the criminal court. It is important to note that, as a civil party, you can make use of the so-called ‘Franchimont rights’, whereby we, as your lawyer, can also suggest investigative actions to the investigating judge.

3. The third way is a direct summons before the criminal court. This is only possible for certain types of crime, with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. In the case of a direct summons too, you must first pay a deposit (which you will lose if there is no conviction, in addition to court costs and part of the other party’s lawyer’s fees). Because no criminal investigation was conducted in such a case, you will have to provide all the evidence yourself.

Possibility 2: A criminal investigation has already been started:

In many cases, the criminal investigation will already have been started by the public prosecutor’s office. This may be in the form of a criminal investigation, led by the public prosecutor, or in the form of a judicial investigation, led by an investigating judge. Broadly speaking, the judicial investigation is reserved for more serious offences, whereby drastic measures have to be taken. Just

think of pre-trial detention, wiretapping, house searches, etc.

In such cases, you can always identify yourself as a victim in the investigation. You can register as an injured party, which means that you will be kept informed when the investigation is completed. In a judicial investigation, you can go a step further and register as a civil party during the investigation. This is free of charge and makes you a full party to the proceedings. You will also be officially summoned for the closing session of the pre-trial chamber as well as when the case is introduced before the criminal court.

In a criminal investigation you can only become a civil party when the case is summoned to appear before the criminal court. You must then formally file a civil suit in order to be able to submit a damage assessment and to plead at the hearing.

We can assist you as a victim in all phases of the investigation. Both when submitting a complaint, and subsequently when following up (and adjusting where necessary) the investigation, until finally obtaining compensation.

As soon as compensation is awarded, it is of course at least as

important that it is actually paid. Here, too, we assist you to ensure that all means are used to secure the payment of your damages.

Please feel free to contact us to make an appointment or ask any additional questions you may have by e-mail at info@studio-penale.be.

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