Accused and defendant

As of when is somebody called the defendant?
A person against whom, on the basis of given facts, a concrete suspicion of having committed a criminal offence is held and against whom investigations are conducted based on that suspicion, is called the accused. From the moment of indictment, the accused is called the defendant.

What are the rights of an accused and/or defendant?
Anyone qualifying as an accused person enjoys special rights which he/she also maintain as defendant. These include, amongstothers:

  • The right to be informed about their principal procedural rights at any moment of the proceedings and of any suspicion held against them;
  • The right to choose a counsel of defence or, as the circumstances may be, to be provisionally provided with legal counsel free of charge;
  • The right to be heard on the criminal charges brought against him/her, but also the right to refuse testimony; in particular the accused is under no obligation to tell the truth;
  • • The right to testify in the presence of a legal counsel;
  • The right to attend the trial and the contradictorial examination of witnesses;
  • The right to translation assistance;
  • • The right to challenge an investigative measure for infringement of his/her subjective rights;
  • The right to apply for the investigative proceedings to be discontinued and to appeal the sentence.