How long can pre-trial detention in Germany last?
As in any civilized country the worst the State can do with a citizen is to take away his liberty, his freedom.
Exactly this is what happens when somebody is remanded, moreover his freedom is taken without a valid verdict. And – as we all should know and respect – everybody has to be deemed innocent until a court says otherwise in a final sentence.
This is why in any case of pre-trial detention the authorities are obliged for a speedy procedure. The prosecution has to do everything to submit the indictment as soon as possible and the court has to prepare the oral hearing in the case.
What does this mean in reality?
In average, not too complicated case the indictment has to be ready and submitted to the court and the court has to arrange everything for the oral hearing within three months. In pracitce we often experience that the whole procedure will last until the end of the fourth months. And I often cannot help having the impression that both institutions do it on purpose, knowing well that counsel will probably not appeal against this exceeding of the deadline.
In complicated cases with more suspects, high damage, bigger criminal organisations etc. the pre-trial detentin can also last for six months.
After six months the detention on remand can only be kept up, when there are special circumstances justifying the upholding of the detention. This can usually only happen in cases of serious crime and/or very exceptional circumstance are given. Then it might be acceptable that the prosecution needs more time to finalize the indictment.
Naturally we always have to check the details of the concrete case.
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