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What is a handrail and what is the difference with a complaint?

Verified 17 avril 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You can hand over to the national, municipal or gendarmerie police if you wish to declare the facts you have suffered or witnessed, without file..

It is possible to lay a criminal case if you are not sure that the facts in question constitute an offense. For example:

Unlike a complaint, the purpose of the criminal investigation is not to prosecute the perpetrator but to inform the police of the nature and date of the incident. This can be useful in a future trial. For example, dating your spouse's departure from home can be useful in the event of divorce.

The perpetrator will not be aware of your criminal case and will not be summoned.

  FYI : if serious facts are revealed in a criminal case, the police or the gendarmerie may notify the public prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings against the perpetrator.

Placing one or more handrails on the same repeated facts (for example: nightly noise, harassment, threats ...) can be used in case of a complaint.

The handrail is a beginning of evidence but may not be enough because it is only a statement on your part. You will need to supplement it with other elements (testimony, usher's statement...).

You can request a copy of the handrail thus registered and keep it.

You can lay your hand at a police station or a gendarmerie.

Who shall I contact

In some cities, you can also lay a hand-wringer with the municipal police. You can find out more at your town hall.

It is possible to lay a handrail long after the facts concerned. However, if you are considering legal action, you must respect the limitation period.. The filing of a criminal case does not interrupt the calculation of this period.

For example, in the case of a misdemeanor, you must file a complaint within a maximum period of 6 years after the fact, even if you have filed a criminal case in the meantime.