What is a free hearing during an investigation?
Verified 01 January 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)
An open hearing allows for the questioning of a person suspected of having committed an offense infringement without putting it into police custody. We also talk about hearing as free suspect. The procedure may be used by police officers, gendarmes or officials with judicial police powers. The person heard shall have the right to leave the premises at any time. In some cases, she may be assisted by a lawyer.
Hearing by the police or gendarmerie
You can be heard in a hearing by police or gendarmes as a mere witness.
However, if there are possible reasons to believe that you have committed or attempted to commit an offense, you may be heard in the context of a open hearing.
The offense does not necessarily have to be punished by a prison sentence, contrary to the police custody.
You can be heard in the context of a flagrancy investigation, a preliminary investigation or on letters rogatory.
L'open hearing This applies only to persons who go to the police or gendarmerie on their own or following a summons.
You cannot benefit from the open hearing if you are brought by force to the police station or the gendarmerie. No constraint shall have been exercised. For example, you must not have been handcuffed.
he is obligatory to attend a summons the police or the gendarmerie.
Hearing by officials with judicial police powers
You can also be heard in an open hearing by public officials who are neither police nor gendarmes. These are public servants who have been given judicial police rights by law, the power to investigate.
These include labor inspectors or fraud enforcement inspectors.
They can hear you if there are possible reasons to believe that you have committed or attempted to commit an offense.
Hearing as a suspect
There's no no maximum duration for the hearing of a person suspected of having committed an offense.
If you are heard in open hearing, you can leave the police station, the gendarmerie or the hearing premises whenever you wish.
Only the measurement of police custody allows you to forcibly restrain yourself in the premises.
Hearing as witness
There is no time limit for your hearing as a witness.
However, if the investigation warrants it, you may be retained constrained during Maximum 4 hours.
If during the hearing there is evidence that you have committed or attempted to commit an offense, it is no longer a witness hearing. In that case, the investigators need to see you notify your rights to be heard in the context of a open hearing as a suspect.
If you are heard as a witness, the law does not provide for notification rights.
If you are interviewed as a suspect, you must be informed of your rights immediately before your interview. If a written summons is addressed to you before your hearing, it must also mention your rights.
In some cases, the notification of your rights can be done during the hearing.
In the written notice
When a written notice is issued, it must contain the following information:
- Nature of the offense for which you are implicated
- Your right to be assisted by a lawyer during your hearing if the offense in question is punishable by a prison sentence
- Conditions for access to legal aid
- Designation modes for a court-appointed lawyer
- Places where you can get legal advice before this hearing
Before the hearing
Just before the hearing, and after giving your identity, the investigators must give you the following oral information:
- Nature, date and place of the offense for which you are being heard
- Your right to remain silent on the alleged offense
- Your right to leave at any time
- Your right to the assistance of an interpreter if you do not understand French
- Your right to make statements, answer questions or remain silent at the hearing
- Your right to be assisted by a lawyer during the hearing, only if the offense concerned is punishable by a prison sentence
- Your right to legal advice in a law access structure
The notification of this information by the investigators must be mentioned in the minutes of the hearing or in a separate minutes.
During the hearing
If it appears during the hearing that you may have committed or attempted to commit an offense, you must be questioned as a suspect would be in open court.
In this case, a police officer, gendarme or authorized official must inform you of your rights.
in some cases, the investigator may also consider placing you in police custody.
If the offense in question is punishable by imprisonment, you must be informed of your right to the assistance of a lawyer as soon as you arrive at the investigation premises and in the possible written summons.
You may have a lawyer of your own choosing or appointed by the bastler.
Who shall I contact
the lawyer is obligatory during the free hearing of a minor.
Interview with lawyer
Before your hearing, you can speak with your lawyer under conditions that guarantee confidentiality.
If you are summoned in writing, you must arrange to speak with your designated or chosen lawyer before your hearing.
Assistance of the lawyer
The lawyer assists you during the hearings and any confrontations with other persons (witnesses, victims, detained...). He can ask questions.
The judicial police officer may refuse to allow the lawyer to ask questions if they may interfere with the proper conduct of the investigation. That refusal shall be recorded in the minutes.
At the end of the hearings and confrontations, the lawyer may make written observations.
Information given to the lawyer and to you
Your lawyer, like you, must be informed of the alleged qualification, date and place of the offense.
They need to be able to look at your file and take notes.
He must be able to consult the minutes of the hearing under the same conditions as during police custody, i.e. as soon as he arrives.
You can also ask to consult certain documents in the file such as the minutes of hearing or confrontations.
Right to waive the right to counsel
If your lawyer does not appear within a reasonable time, you can waive his or her intervention.
Your waiver must be recorded in the minutes.
Your lawyer's fees are not regulated. Your lawyer sets the fee for the benefits he charges you.
When a lawyer is appointed by the President, the costs are at your expense, unless you meet the conditions for access to the legal aid.
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