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

Verified 21 July 2021 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You can file a complaint with the national police or the gendarmerie if you wish to declare facts that you have experienced or witnessed, without complain.

It is possible to file a complaint if you are not sure that the facts in question constitute an offense.

For example:

Unlike a complaint, the purpose of the court proceedings is not to prosecute the perpetrator, but to report the nature and date of the acts to law enforcement. This may be useful in a future trial. For example, the date of your spouse's departure from the home can be used in the event of divorce.

The perpetrator will not be aware of your handwriting and will not be summoned.


even in the absence of a complaint, the public prosecutor, informed of an offense in a handful, may decide to launch an investigation.

The fact of filing one or more handrails concerning the same repeated facts (e.g.: nighttime noise, harassment, threat, etc.) may be used in the event of a complaint.

The handrail is a beginning of evidence, but it may not be enough because it's just a statement from you. You will need to complete it with other elements (testimony, statement of the Commissioner of Justice (former bailiff and judicial auctioneer)...).

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

You can deposit your hand-rail at a police station or a gendarmerie brigade.

Who shall I contact
Who shall I contact

You can file a complaint long after the fact. However, if you are considering legal action, you must respect the limitation period. The lodging of a handrail shall not interrupt the calculation of that period.

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

Where and how to request a copy of a handrail?

You can request a copy from the police station or gendarmerie where it was registered. Your request can be made by mail or by traveling. In the latter case, it is best to contact the relevant service by telephone to find out when you can come to pick up your copy.

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