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Criminal justice: what are the alternatives to a trial?

Verified 29 avril 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

To avoid a criminal trial, alternative measures may be taken by the public prosecutor.. The objective is to ensure reparation for the damage inflicted on the victim, to put an end to the situation caused by offense and reintegrate the author socially. The prosecutor may act directly or through a judicial police officer, a prosecutor's office or mediator.. These measures are aimed at adults and minors. They are diverse in nature.

The prosecutor may choose to remind the perpetrator of the act. This consists of a solemn interview to remind him of the obligations provided by the law and the risks incurred in the event of non-compliance (in case of use of narcotics or neighborhood disorder for example). This interview must make the author aware of the consequences of an act contrary to the law (registration in criminal history file...).

If the perpetrator is a minor, the reminder must be made in the presence of the holders of parental authority.. The measure must make him understand that his act is illegal and that it can have serious consequences (penalty, payment of damages to the victim by his parents...).

The prosecutor may also refer the perpetrator to a health, social or professional structure to remind him of his obligations. The aim is to help the author of the facts to reintegrate and prevent him from reproducing the facts. For example, a therapeutic injunction to combat drug use.

This may consist in the completion of an internship, which shall be at the expense of the person concerned. This may be one of the following:

  • Citizenship internship (reminder of republican values)
  • Training course on the dangers of drug use
  • Road safety awareness training (in the event of a traffic offense)
  • Accountability course for preventing and combating domestic violence
  • Awareness course on combating the purchase of sexual services (in the context of combating prostitution)
  • Parental responsibility training (reminder of parents' rights and duties)

  Please note : in the case of a minor, legal representatives must give their consent.

This alternative measure to prosecution is chosen when the perpetrator has not respected a law and it is possible to regularize the situation.

The prosecutor may ask the perpetrator to comply with the law or the regulations. It can be about the environment, urban planning, labor law... This is the case, for example, of a building permit that has not been applied for.

The successful outcome of the measure is for the perpetrator to prove that he has regularized his situation by presenting the necessary document. For example, the public prosecutor may request the production of a paid invoice such as the garage's invoice for the conformity of a vehicle.

The prosecutor may also ensure that the perpetrator respects a judgment. For example, the court may require the child to pay maintenance as provided in a divorce judgment.

The prosecutor may ask the perpetrator to make good the damage caused to the victim. For example, reparation may consist of compensation or the restoration of the damaged property.

In this case, the victim shall be informed of the proposals for compensation. It may accept or refuse them.

  Please note : in the case of a minor, legal representatives must give their consent to make the measure effective.

This alternative to prosecution is to remove the perpetrator from the place of the offense or the victim.

At the request of the victim, in the event of repeated spousal or family violence, the public prosecutor may prohibit the perpetrator from residing or visiting the family home. This measure is limited in time.

The public prosecutor may prohibit the perpetrator from going to one or more specific places where the offense was committed (a bar, a market, a gym, etc.). It may also prohibit the perpetrator from visiting the place where the victim resides (for a maximum period of 6 months).

  Please note : in the case of a minor, legal representatives must give their consent to make the measure effective.

This alternative procedure to prosecution may be proposed by the Public Prosecutor for tickets and certain offenses drug use or drunk driving. The criminal composition is addressed to the natural person (major or minor) or legal person, who admits his guilt.

  Please note : in the case of a minor, he or she must give his or her consent and his or her legal representatives in the presence of a lawyer.

The prosecutor may propose to the perpetrator to participate in a criminal mediation with the victim. The establishment of this procedure requires the consent of the victim, if she has not requested it herself.

It aims to bring the parties closer together around an amicable agreement negotiated between them.

  Please note : in the case of a minor, the legal representatives must participate in the interview and their agreement must be given.