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Law No. 1.534 of December 9, 2022, concerning criminal investigation and appeals for revision in criminal matters

Law No. 1,534 of December 9, 2022, modernizes the criminal procedure concerning the constitution of civil party in criminal matters (A) and the status of assisted witness (B).

A. Constitution of Civil Party in Criminal Matters

Article 74 of the Code of Criminal Procedure now imposes a condition for constituting oneself as a civil party in criminal offenses : filing a prior complaint for the offense, waiting for 6 months without any proceedings initiated if the maximum penalty incurred is less than 3 years.

B. Creation of the Assisted Witness Status

The following provisions, applicable to indictments issued from May 1, 2023, have been integrated into the Code of Criminal Procedure :

– Creation of Article 147-7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that a person is automatically considered an assisted witness if specifically mentioned in an initial or additional request from the Prosecutor, without being formally accused.

This article also explains that the investigating judge has discretionary power to grant or deny the status of assisted witness in two cases:

  • the person is specifically mentioned in a complaint or is implicated by the victim ;
  • the person is implicated by a witness, or if there are simple indications that make their involvement in the facts under the jurisdiction of the investigating judge plausible.

– Creation of Article 147-13 of the Code of Criminal Procedure : the status of assisted witness can be changed to that of an accused at any point in the procedure if the investigating judge deems that there are serious and converging pieces of evidence suggesting that the person may have been involved, as an author or accomplice, in the facts for which they are charged ;

– Amendment of Article 209 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which concerns requests for annulment presented before the council chamber, to allow the assisted witness to make similar requests to those of the accused ;

– Creation of Articles 147-8 to 147-13 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to define the rights of the assisted witness, who is part of the procedure and benefits from most of the rights granted to the accused.

However, there are differences between the assisted witness and the accused: the assisted witness cannot be subjected to coercive measures and cannot be referred to a court or formally accused.

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