Constitutional Complaints in Criminal Matters

Even in the darkest hours of criminal proceedings, every citizen stands "in the light of the constitution" (S. Rückert). For this reason, everyone has the right to have official and judicial decisions reviewed by the State constitutional courts or by the Federal Constitutional Court for compatibility with the relevant State constitutions or the Basic Law once all other options of judicial redress are exceeded. Decisions of the law enforcement authorities or the criminal courts can also be attacked with the extraordinary remedy of the constitutional complaint.

For many years, criminal and criminal procedural questions have hardly played a role in the constitutional courts. However, over the course of the last two decade, in particular the Federal Constitutional Court has picked up on the matter and significantly improved the protection of fundamental rights, especially in the area of compulsory measures (e.g. arrest and search warrants, surveillance orders). However, the Federal Constitutional Court does not see itself as a "super appeals court". The fact that an administrative or judicial act was unlawful is not enough to succeed with a constitutional complaint. Rather, it is also necessary that the concerned act violates the rights of the applicant in a specifically unconstitutional manner. This constitutional specific standard of review must be carefully elaborated in each individual case.

In recent years, Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Ignor has represented a number of clients in complaints against both criminal prosecutions (search and arrest warrants) as well as against binding judgments of the criminal courts in constitutional court proceedings. The most prominent example was the representation of chief editor of CICERO magazine, Dr. Wolfram Weimer, before the Federal Constitutional Court (see Media Criminal Law).