A criminal complaint is the notification of facts to the responsible law enforcement authorities which, in the opinion of the person making the report, could constitute a criminal offense.
Filing a report of a suspected criminal offense (e.g., theft or bodily injury, a form of cybercrime or other offenses) triggers a police investigation. In principle, a report cannot be withdrawn.
Anyone is entitled to file a report, not just an injured party. Anonymous reports can only be made by non-personal means, as every witness is obliged to give his or her personal details. A report against unknown persons is admissible. It is also possible to report oneself.
Private individuals are not obliged by law to report crimes that have already been committed. Private individuals are required by law to report only the planning of certain criminal acts listed in Section 138 of the Criminal Code.
The criminal complaint can be filed with a police authority, a public prosecutor's office or a district court. Since the investigation is usually carried out by the police, it is advisable to file a complaint there in order to speed up the investigation. It can be made orally or in writing. The oral report will be recorded.
The complaint is submitted by the police to the public prosecutor's office. After the investigation has been completed, the public prosecutor's office decides whether charges will be brought against the accused or whether the proceedings will be discontinued. In the latter case, the complainant will receive a written notice informing him or her of any appeal possibilities.
When you file a complaint, the police may ask for various information:
- Information on the personal details of the person filing the complaint
- Description of the facts of the case
- Description of the course of events from your point of view
- Information on the location and time of the crime
- Information on weapons, tools, motor vehicles or other objects used in the crime
- if the perpetrator is known: his personal data
- if the perpetrator is unknown: give an exact description of the person
- Information on the motive
- information on the injured parties, the injured persons or the material damage caused
- Information on the personal details of witnesses
- Details of any measures already taken
Legal note: Filing a report can have serious consequences. Anyone who fakes an illegal act or wrongfully suspects another by knowingly providing false information is liable to prosecution.
In addition: You damage successful police work if the police have to investigate a "faked crime" instead of dealing with actual crime during this time.