Criminal Law

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

A complaint is the complaint of the immediate sufferer (e.g. the victim of theft) or the directly wronged (e.g. the one whose signature was forged, but without being harmed) to the competent authorities for an offense committed against of. Any third party may file a complaint, in order to inform the public prosecutor of the commission of a crime, provided that for the specific crime the criminal prosecution is carried out ex officio (if it is not expressly required by law to file a complaint in order to prosecute the guilty party , but the prosecutor can be informed in any way and by anyone about the commission of the criminal act).

In the event that the law specifically stipulates that the offense is prosecuted only upon summons, the deadline for filing it is 3 months from the day the person submitting the summons learned about the wrongful act and the person who committed it or one of its participants . The petition is submitted in writing or orally before any investigative officer (e.g. police officer, criminal judge, etc.) or directly before the Misdemeanor Prosecutor, either by the deserter himself or by a special attorney.

Misdemeanors are statute-barred after 5 years and felonies in principle after 20 years (in the case of a life sentence) or 15 years (in any other case), from the day the offense was committed. Of course, the law provides for cases of suspension of the above limitation period (e.g. for as long as the procedure lasts in the audience and until the conviction is irrevocable), which, however, in any case, cannot last more than 5 years for felonies and 3 years for misdemeanors. In fact, according to a. 63 of Law 4689/2020, for certain misdemeanors that have been committed up to and including 04.30.2020 and against which the law, as the main penalty, threatens a prison sentence of up to 1 year or a monetary penalty or the provision of community service or cumulatively some of the above penalties, it is provided, under certain conditions, for the penalty to be imposed and the criminal prosecution to be stopped.

A sentence that has been irrevocably imposed and has not been executed is time-barred as follows: a) life imprisonment after 30 years, b) temporary imprisonment after 20 years, c) imprisonment, fines and confinement in a special youth detention center after from 10 years and d) the provision of community service after 5 years. The statute of limitations starts from the day the decision became irrevocable. In some cases, the statute of limitations is suspended (eg for as long as it cannot begin or continue, or execution is suspended). There are, in fact, more specific provisions regarding the limitation of penalties, such as a. 64 of Law 4689/2020 on the statute of limitations and non-execution of certain sentences, conditional.

With the new Criminal Code, the conversion of the custodial sentence into a monetary one was abolished. Thus, the provisions of the previous Criminal Code on the conversion of the penalty into a monetary penalty are applied only for criminal acts committed until 30 June 2019, in combination with the retroactive application of the more lenient provision for the accused. This means that in all cases of a prison sentence of up to five years imposed for acts committed up to 30.06.2019, it is possible to convert the sentence, based on the previous provisions, which will also be applied as more favorable to the accused.

According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, specifically articles 341 for misdemeanors and 435 for felonies, if the convicted defendant could not in time notify the court in any way of an insurmountable obstacle to his appearance at the trial and request the adjournment of the hearing (under ‘ article 349 CPC), may submit an application for annulment of the procedure carried out without his presence or his representation by a lawyer.

According to a. 405 of the Penal Code, if the perpetrator of certain crimes against property (e.g. fraud) completely satisfies the injured party without unlawful damage to a third party before his first examination as a suspect (i.e. before the initiation of criminal proceedings) he is not even considered criminal, while if he does so at a later time, that is, after his examination but before he is irrevocably brought to trial, he is exempted from all punishment. Alternatively, the accused may apply to the public prosecutor for criminal conciliation, i.e. to reach an agreement between himself and the victim, in which the former will fully compensate the latter, resulting in the final imposition of a much smaller penalty, which will not exceed one year (or both if there are aggravating circumstances).

According to a. 84 of the Criminal Code, mitigating circumstances are considered in particular: a) the perpetrator’s previous cohabitation (a circumstance that does not in itself exclude his previous conviction for a minor misdemeanor), b) the fact that the perpetrator was driven to his act by non-humble reasons or the the act was committed under a regime of serious threat or due to the coercion of a person with whom the perpetrator has a relationship of dependence/owes obedience or due to great poverty and need, c) the fact that the perpetrator was driven by intense anger or sadness due to an injustice done to him, or was provoked by the sufferer with his inappropriate behavior, d) the sincere repentance and intention to restore or reduce the damage he caused and e) his good behavior after the act has been performed, even during detention.

The suspect, before being charged with the initiation of criminal proceedings against him, has the following rights: 1) the right to be informed about the unjust act attributed to him and his procedural rights, 2) the right to be summoned to provide explanations, to refuse to provide explanations and receiving a deadline for providing them, 3) the right to be represented by a lawyer, 4) the right to be granted copies of the case file, to propose witnesses and to present evidence, 5) if he is a foreigner, the right to interpretation and translation and 6) the right to remain silent and not to incriminate himself.

According to a. 209 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if someone is legally called to testify, he cannot refuse it except for the exceptions expressly stated in the Code. At the expense of the one who does not fulfill his duty to testify, i.e. does not appear in court, even though he was legally summoned (false witness), a warrant of forcible arrest may be issued and a fine of 100-200 euros may be imposed. If, however, he did not appear for reasons of force majeure or great hindrance, he may file a protest against the decision condemning him, within a period of 15 days from its service.