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Criminal Procedure in Portugal



Crime as to its procedural nature may be:

Public – Where the procedure does not depend on denunciation or participation from whomever, being enough for the procedure to take place the knowledge of the fact by the authorities.

Semi-Public – Where the procedure depends on the complaint of the victim or other persons.

Private – Where the process depends on complaint, constitution of assistant and private prosecution.














The investigation comprises a set of steps taken to investigate the existence of a crime. It seeks to determine the agents and their responsibility, to find and collect evidence, everything to decide for prosecution or archival (article 262 of the CPP).

The investigation may end in several ways:

1. with the prosecution (283, 284 and 285);

2. with the archival (277);

3. with the archival in cases of remission of penalty (280);

4. with the archival after temporary suspension of proceedings (282);

5. with the sending the case to summarized form (392).






The review (instrução) consists of investigation activities that are complementary to those carried out in the initial investigation, of an optional nature, aiming for the judicial confirmation of the prosecution decision or the decision to archive the case (Article 286 CPP).

It takes place in the ordinary procedure, when requested, given its optional nature, being excluded from the special proceedings – summary and abbreviated.

The review consists of all the acts that the judge deems fit to carry out and, necessarily, by a review, oral and contradictory debate, in which the Public Prosecutor, the accused, the defender, the assistant and his lawyer are present, but not the civil parties (Article 289 CPP).


Once the case has been received, the judge will designate the day, time and place for the hearing, and priority should be given to the marking of cases where there are defendants in custody or with an obligation to remain in their domicile.

The evidence will be produced, the facts of the case will be presented, examined and debated, and then the legal question will be discussed and finally a decision will be made.

As a general rule, trial hearings are open to the general public.





Conviction verdict:

The conviction specifies the reasons for the choice and the extent of the sanction imposed, indicating, where appropriate, the beginning and the procedure for its enforcement, other duties imposed on the convicted person and its duration, and the individual social re-adaptation plan (Article 375 CPP).

Acquittal verdict:

The acquittal shall declare the extinction of any coercive measure and shall order the immediate release of the defendant in custody, unless he or she is to remain in custody for another reason or to undergo a security measure (Article 376 CPP).




The appeal is a way of challenging judicial decisions, searching for a new assessment by another court. Judgments and orders which are not subject to a limitation in the law (Article 399) may be appealed. The appeal against the part of the judgment on civil damages is admissible only if the value of the claim is greater than that of limit of the court appealed against and the contested decision is unfavourable to the appellant by more than half of that amount (Article 400 CPP).

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