What is a deferred appearance?

Verified 02 November 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

When there are sufficient charges against a suspect to have him tried quickly but the file is not complete (results of technical, medical analyzes... not yet received), the deferred appearance can be used. Pending technical results and to ensure the presence of the accused at trial, he may be placed under judicial supervision, in pretrial detention or under house arrest. We'll explain the procedure.

The deferred appearance is used when there are sufficient charges against a suspect to bring him before the correctional court but that the east folder incomplete. This is the case when the results of investigative acts are not available before the end of police custody. For example, a DNA test, a medical assessment or an assessment of the number of drug pellets ingested that have not yet been evacuated.

It's the public prosecutor which imposes this procedure on the defendant.

It's a procedure that allows a person to be tried suspected of committing a offense within a period of 2 month after police custody.

If these results are available before the end of police custody, the accused person will be tried in immediate appearance, if she accepts it.

Like an immediate appearance, the deferred appearance procedure is used to determine the simple facts and clear which do not require a thorough investigation.

It applies only to offenses punished by at least 2 years in prison orat least 6 months in case of flagrant offense. This can be for example for a traffic offense, a simple theft, possession of narcotics, a physical assault.

The purpose of the deferred appearance is to provide a rapid criminal response.


The deferred appearance procedure cannot be used for crimes and contraventions.

The deferred appearance procedure cannot apply for miners, for some press offenses or policies and for offenses subject to special law (e.g. forests, fishing...).

The Public Prosecutor shall hear the defendant right after his police custody.

He shall inform her of the facts of which he is accused.

He shall inform him of his right to make statements, answer questions or remain silent.

If he does not understand French, he may be assisted by an interpreter.

The defendant must must be assisted by a lawyer. If he does not have one or if he does not know one, a lawyer may be official clerk by the bastler from the bar association.

The lawyer can consult the file immediately.

Who shall I contact

The prosecutor warns the defendant that he will be tried at a later date. The accused does not have to give his consent for this procedure.

The Public Prosecutor shall notify the victim facts by any means (by post, via the police...).

It may be formed civil party to seek compensation for his loss and to file requests for acts (hearing of a witness, expert opinion...).


The accused may be brought before the public prosecutor in a place other than the court if his state of health does not allow it (for example, in the hospital if the accused was injured during the commission of the acts).

Pending the outcome of the investigation and in order to guarantee the presence of the accused at his trial, the prosecutor must refer the case to the judge of liberty and detention (JLD: titleContent). That judge can make a decision that limits the liberty of the accused.

Before taking a decision, the JLD: titleContent organize a debate during which the accused and his lawyer may make any observations.

The JLD: titleContent may take any of the following measures:

Pre-trial detention can only be ordered if the offense is punishable by 3 years in prison at the very least.

The decision of the JLD: titleContent is notified verbally to the accused at the end of the proceedings and mentioned in the minutes, a copy of which shall be immediately given to him.

The defendant can do call of that decision for 10 days after notification. The call is made by a statement to the investigating chamber.

Who shall I contact

If the accused is detained, the statement of appeal is made to the prison registry or by his lawyer.

Who shall I contact

If a measure is pronounced by the JLD: titleContent, the accused must appear before the correctional court at the latest within a period of 2 months. After this period, it is automatically termination of the measure taken by the JLD: titleContent but the defendant remains summoned to appear before the court.

During this period, the accused or his lawyer can request investigative acts (hearing of a witness, search...).

On receipt, the minutes, the technical or medical results shall be added to the file and made available to the parties or their lawyer.

The deferred trial is proceeding before the correctional court. The rules are the same as for other trials before that court.

The victim of the offense is informed by all means (by mail, by the police...) of the decision to try the accused in court at a later date and to date of the hearing.

If she wants to ask for damages in compensation for its damage, it must be constituted civil party.

In the course of the proceedings, she or her lawyer may make requests for documents (hearing of witnesses, expertise...).

If the civil party does not have time to prepare its file, quantify its harm or has a serious impediment (hospitalization), it can to request a referral at another hearing. It must justify the reason (hospitalization, missing documents...).

Example :

A civil party who is awaiting an expert opinion in the event of physical assault or a cost estimate in the event of damage to property may request a referral of their file to another hearing.

On the day of the criminal trial, if the request for postponement of the civil party is accepted by the judge, the hearing is postponed to a hearing called on civil interests.

At the hearing on civil interests, the court shall examine the civil party's quantified claim and determine the amount of damages.

The victim or the civil party do not have to to be represented by a lawyer.

If she does not have sufficient income to pay for legal fees, she can apply for legal aid.

Who shall I contact

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

If the call is made by convicted person or the public prosecutor's office, it may carry on the whole decision (the pain and civil interests) or be limited to the pain.

The civil party may appeal the decision, but only on the civil interests. It cannot contest the sentence (prison, fine...) imposed on the convicted person.

Please note

if the defendant does call imprisonment while he is sentenced to a term of imprisonment and is placed or held in custody, the court of appeal must rule in a period of 4 months. After this period, the detainee is released, but the appeal court remains seised of the proceedings and will try him later.

For the defendant, the lawyer is obligatory.

The victim or the civil party does not have to to be assisted by a lawyer.

If the accused, the victim or the civil party does not know a lawyer, the president of the bar may appoint a lawyer court-appointed lawyer at his request.

The procedure is free.

As the procedure is rapid and the lawyer is obligatory for the accused, the lawyer is paid by thelegal aid.

At the end of the proceedings, if the sentenced person does not fulfill the conditions forlegal aid, it must repay the sums paid to the lawyer to the public treasury.

The convicted person must pay the fixed procedural rights because they are not covered by legal aid.

The victim or the civil party may benefit from thelegal aid if his income does not allow him to pay the legal fees.

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