Preparing and filing criminal complaints

If you think you were the victim of a crime, you may feel the need to press criminal charges against the suspected perpetrator. In many cases, this might look like a sensible thing to do. However, the reach of criminal law is almost as often over- as underestimated. A behavior that is inconsistent with good faith in civil law, or which otherwise appears obnoxious, does not necessarily have to be a case for the prosecutor. According to our experience, many hopes, which are placed into the intervention of the investigative authorities are not fulfilled. Therefore, it is advisable to examine the facts in question precisely before the filing of a criminal complaint.

We strongly recommend a review if there is a risk that the complainant's own behavior may be scrutinized as a result of the initiated investigations. To this end, the extent of criminal law is often underestimated and a complainant may end up being the subject of an investigation himself. This is, in fact, often the case. Such a boomerang effect can only be prevented by a careful preliminary assessment of the facts and a thorough legal analysis thereof, as well as a prognosis of the direction the case may head if the suspected perpetrator or a third party testifies.

If you decide to press charges, we recommend to communicate the case to the law enforcement authorities already in prepared form - in particular in matters of factual or legal complexity. Otherwise, according to our observations, there is the danger that the criminal complaint is not correctly recorded and the investigations are therefore either not initiated or go into the wrong direction. We try to minimize this risk by presenting the case in factual and legal terms with a view to the prosecutor's "horizon", so that the criminal complaint forms a valid basis for the following investigation of the authorities.