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Criminal Law

When we get an item about the court in the news, it is often about criminal law. And then we talk about murder, manslaughter, violence, sexual offences,rape and drugs. But so-called white-collar crime, cybercrime, money laundering, economic crimes, possession of firearms and so on also come under criminal law.

We read about wiretaps, about infiltrators, about international arrest warrants and about prison sentences. Criminal law is involved in interventions by the Police, the investigating judge, the public prosecutor or the public prosecutor’s office, the Assize Court, the Correctional Court or the police judge.


Determination by police forces

Usually, it starts with a determination by the Police Services, with an official report being drawn up, and in serious circumstances a deprivation of liberty may be involved. An arrest warrant has to be decided by the Investigating Judge, and attempts are made to interrogate the suspect. Applying the SALDUZ ruling, handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, in Europe a suspect at risk of arrest must be assisted by a lawyer during questioning.

Drug-related criminal cases

Since possession, use, production, import and export and trafficking of drugs are criminal offences, and fighting them ( ” the war on drugs” ) is considered a priority by the Police, a significant proportion of the cases that come before the Criminal Court are drug-related. To know whether a drug is legal or not, we look at the Narcotics Act. This law makes no distinction between hard and soft drugs. Prohibitions include the cultivation, sale, use and possession of cannabis, hashish, XTC, speed, GHB, cocaine, heroin. Since drugs involve large sums of money in circulation, the financial consequences for offenders in case of conviction are not bad either.

Helping lawyer

Given that the criminal law is very complex, it is in one’s best interest to be assisted before the Court by a specialised lawyer who has all the techniques and resources to avoid or reduce an effective prison sentence. This often involves a combination of a thorough knowledge of the law and jurisprudence, and of the specific approach of the Court where the case is called. It is important to know how a Court views the issues before it and what arguments a particular Court is sensitive to, as this often varies widely.