First Hearing (Erste Vernehmung)

Further below you will inform yourself on a first hearing in a criminal proceedings. This phase is still during investigations and not yet the final trial.


I just heard that tomorrow the judge will hold a hearing in my case. However, its not supposed to be the trial. What’s this all about?

This initial hearing before the judge is intended to give you an opportunity to refute the suspicion of guilt and to produce facts which would be in your favor. At the opening of the hearing, the judge will identify if you are the person against whom an offense is charged and which paragraphs of the penal code might be applicable. You will be informed that the law permits you to remain silent, make statements, or consult a lawyer before answering any questions. You will also be informed of your right to request investigations on your behalf to bring to light any exonerating evidence.

I heard from cellmates that the investigating police are tough guys during interrogation. They twist your arms, punch you in the stomach, slap your face and a lot more. Gee, I thought I was in modern Europe.

Hmm. Are you sure that you are talking about Germany? The person charged must be able to make voluntary decisions and may not be restricted or influenced by mistreatment, exhaustion, physical interference, drugs, torture, deception or hypnosis. Compulsion may be applied only as allowed by the law of criminal procedure. Any threat to apply measures contrary to that law, or promises of advantage not provided by this law, are forbidden (§136a StPO).

Gee, I just heard that there is an arrest warrant for me and that the cops are about to haul in – for what ever reason. I got a good job. If I were to be arrested off my job, I can forget returning there again. I could deposit a bail. Is there any chance to cancel the arrest warrant?

The judge may suspend an arrest order imposed solely on the grounds of suspicion of flight when justice may still be served by other means. Alternative measures include:

  1. The regular appearance by the accused at predetermined times before the investigating judge, police or other officials as directed.
  2. The individual may not leave his designated area of residence without the specific approval of the judge or police.
  3. Payment of a security deposit (bail) by the suspect or any other party.


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