What is the role of the judge?
The main task of the judge is to conduct the trial and to pronounce a sentence. The judge is held to ascertain the truth and to establish all facts which are relevant for assessing the criminal act and the offender.
He/she must be objective and impartial when exercising office and avoid any appearance of bias. If the judge has any doubts as to the guilt of the defendant after the evidence has been gathered, the defendant must be acquitted. If the judge reaches the conclusion that the defendant is guilty, a commensurate penalty will be imposed.
Depending on the severity of the criminal offence, the judge decides on a case either as single judge, or as a panel together with two lay judges. In a jury trial, eight jurors first decide on the question of guilt; the jury then decided together with three professional judges the sentence.
What is the role of the court in the investigative proceedings?
The judge plays an instrumental role also in the investigative proceedings, which are directed by the public prosecutor.
Certain investigative measures which strongly interfere with the fundamental rights of the person require prior authorisation by a judge.
These include, for instance, house searches or telephone surveillance.
It is always the court which decides on motions by the public prosecutor to impose pre-trial detention because the accused may abscond or suppress evidence.