Criminal cases; information on hearings and decisions before the Regional Court (1st instance)

The criminal chambers of the regional courts are the first instance courts responsible for hearing and deciding certain serious criminal cases.


The law determines which court and which panel of judges is called upon to hear and decide a criminal case. The type of offence and the expected punishment are of decisive importance.

As a court of first instance, the Regional Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine particularly serious offences (e.g. capital offences) and criminal cases in which the Higher Regional Court does not have jurisdiction (e.g. for serious state protection offences) and in which

  • a sentence of more than four years' imprisonment is to be expected, or
  • placement in a psychiatric hospital or in preventive detention is to be expected, or
  • the Public Prosecutor's Office brings charges before the Regional Court because of the special importance of the case or because of the special need for protection of persons injured in the offence who could be considered as witnesses.

The Regional Court decides by so-called "large" criminal chambers, which are staffed with three or two professional judges and two lay judges.

The court makes its decision on the basis of its own free conviction derived from the hearing. If the court cannot be convinced of the guilt of the accused, it may not convict him ("in case of doubt for the accused"). For the proceedings before the grand criminal chamber, the accused who does not yet have a defence counsel must be appointed a defence counsel. The main hearing concludes with the pronouncement of the verdict. If no appeal is lodged against the judgment either by the public prosecutor or by the accused or by any private or joint plaintiff, or if the appeal is unsuccessful, the judgment becomes final. With the exception of proceedings against juveniles, enforcement of the judgment rests with the public prosecutor's office.


  • In criminal proceedings, the court fees are calculated according to the final sentence imposed. The fees of the lawyer for the criminal proceedings are only determined by the framework (so-called framework fees). The lawyers shall determine the fee in each individual case, taking into account all circumstances, in particular the scope and difficulty of the lawyer's work, the importance of the matter and the client's income and financial circumstances, at their reasonable discretion.


The legal remedy against a district court judgment is an appeal.

Status: 10.08.2021

Responsible for editing: Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz

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