Reporting a Crime
Right to a lawyer – The victim may seek the assistance of a lawyer. The victim may benefit from financial assistance to cover some or all legal fees through legal aide (“aide juridictionelle”). The lawyer can be present at all confrontations between the victim and the alleged attacker;at all of the victim’s hearings.
Evidence – Apart from DNA traces and possible injuries, any evidence gathered by the victim may be examined by the courts: testimonies; records of text messages and emails; recordings of conversations, even without the author’s knowledge; clothing, etc.
Filing a claim for civil damages (“Constitution de partie civile”)
The victim is responsible for reporting the crime, filing a formal complaint, and filing a claim for civil damages (that is, identifying himself/herself as the partie civile in the case – see details below). A lawyer is recommended in order to ensure compliance with the correct procedures.
What is “Partie Civile”?
Timeframe – Depending on the severity and complexity of the crime, it may take several weeks or months before the court processes a case to completion. For misdemeanor-type cases, however, the procureur may negotiate a more immediate settlement between the victim and the offender. In most cases, a French lawyer representing your case may pursue the case while you are abroad, although you may be required to be present as a witness during the trial.
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