Immediate appearance

Verified 18 January 2024 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The immediate appearance is a quick procedure that makes it possible to have a defendant at the end of its police custody. We present you with the information you need to know.

Immediate appearance applies only for some offenses :

  • Offenses punishable by at least 2 years in prison
  • Flagrant offenses punishable by at least 6 months' imprisonment.

Immediate appearance is forbidden to judge:

  • Press offenses and political offenses 
  • Crimes and contraventions 
  • Juvenile offenders.

The case must be in a state to be tried, that is, there is no need for a full inquiry and there is enough material on the record to allow the tribunal to hear the case.

It's the public prosecutor who decides to use the immediate appearance procedure. It takes its decision at the end of the police custody of the suspect.


At the end of police custody, the public prosecutor instructs the investigators to bring the suspect before him for a hearing. This is called the deferral of the suspect.

The prosecutor first informs the suspect about his rights and the facts alleged against him. He then interrogates the suspect and collects his observations. It also collects the lawyer's observations if the suspect is assisted by a lawyer chosen or official clerk.

Immediate appearance hearing

The defendant appears before the court same day at the hearing of the correctional court to be tried. Pending the hearing, he is held in a secure room of the court under the supervision of the police or gendarmes.

The hearing is like that of a classic trial before the correctional court.

Referral to the Judge of Liberties and Detention (JLD)

It is an intermediate step when theimmediate appearance hearing is not possible on the same day and that she is postponed on another day.

The public prosecutor may ask the liberty and detention judge (JLD) to order security measures pending the hearing.

The JLD may take the following safety measures:

The defendant can't call of the JLD decision.

An accused who is referred for an immediate appearance shall have the right to:

  • to be assisted by a interpreter does not understand French;
  • to be assisted by a lawyer chosen by him or official clerk by the president of the bar;
  • of check your file immediately;
  • to make statements and answer questions or to keep quiet ;
  • of refuse to be tried immediately and get a dismissal to prepare his defense.

The victim of the offense is warned by any means the procedure for immediate appearance and the date of the hearing. In practice, it is the police or gendarmerie that gives him the information. She can have the notice of hearing translated if she doesn't understand French.

The victim may to bring a civil action to request damages in compensation for his loss.

The victim can take a lawyer or make requests alone. If she wants to hire a lawyer but her resources are insufficient to pay for it, she can apply for legal aid.

Who shall I contact

Time limits for appearing before the correctional court

Immediate appearance hearing takes place same day.

If the hearing is not possible on the same day, the immediate appearance shall be postponed until:

  • 3 working days if the accused is placed in pretrial detention by the JLD following its referral. Otherwise he is automatically released.
  • 10 days to 6 months in other cases.

Time Limits for Referrals for Hearings of Immediate Appearance

On the day of the hearing, the defendant may appear and not be tried, either because he refuses to be tried on the spot, either because the case isn't ready (files are missing items).

In this case, the court shall order the referral of the case on another date.

The time limit for removal depends on the length of the sentence.

Tableau - Time Limits for Referrals for Hearings of Immediate Appearance

Duration of the penalty incurred

Referral Period

Up to 7 years in prison


- 2-6 weeks

- less than 2 weeks with the consent of the accused

More than 7 years in prison


- 2-4 months

- 2 months maximum in case of pretrial detentionotherwise the accused is released

In the event of a referral, the accused or his or her lawyer may apply to the court for an order additional investigation (hearings, expert opinions...).

The court may order safety measures (judicial review, house arrest with electronic monitoring or pretrial detention)or extend them, pending the hearing.

At the hearing, the court must ask the defendant whether he agrees to be tried immediately.

The presence of a lawyer is required to obtain the consent of the accused to be tried immediately. If the defendant does not have a lawyer, the court asks the bastler appoint a public defender.

The trial is conducted in the same way as a classic trial before the criminal court.


if the accused is convicted while the case file of the civil party is not ready, the matter is referred to a hearing on civil interests. This hearing is devoted solely to applications for damages.

The sentenced person, the civil party or the public prosecutor's office can do call of the decision of the correctional court.

The appeal of the civil party is limited to civil interests :: it may not contest the sentence imposed on the accused or a decision of relaxation.

Please note

if the accused is detained and appeals, the court of appeal has 4 months to make a decision. Otherwise, the accused is released.

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