Pre-Trial Investigation: The Arrest Itself (“Verhaftung“)

You will find out about what you if the police wants you to sleep the next night in prison be it because you are arrested or taken into custody.



What actually happens when I’m arrested? Will I be tarred and feathered?

A person who is arrested is taken to the nearest police station in the area in which the offense or crime was allegedly committed or in which the police got hold of the person suspected. The arrestee must be informed of the reason for his arrest. At the police station, the arrestee will be questioned.


How the heck am I to communicate with the police when I don’t get a word of they are saying. My German is not so stress resistant yet.

If language difficulties exist, the services of an interpreter must be provided. If no interpreter is available, you will be brought to such police headquarters, where an interpreter is generally on duty. Any statements made by the arrested person will be recorded in writing, and after the record of statements has been read (and translated, if applicable) to him, he will be asked to sign this record.


Is there anything I can do to get an understanding of what I’m being held and for what the charges are? The district attorney interrogating me speaks such an awful English.

Demand an interpreter – in a polite pitch. It is strongly recommended before answering any questions posed by the investigating police or district attorney that you have counsel of a lawyer. The request for legal assistance and the services of an interpreter are basic rights and cannot be denied and as such show neither guilt nor innocence. Even if you are dependent on legal aid, you are entitled to have an interpreter because you are to understand for what you are being interrogated.

Now that I finally got a clue thanks to the help of a translator, what is the best to say or not say when defending myself? May I remain silent (Aussageverweigerungsrecht)?

From the time of arrest through all subsequent hearings, you have the right to remain silent (§115 StPO). However, you are obliged to identify yourself completely and truthfully. The fact that you remain silent may not be held against you or be construed as proof of guilt. Keep in mind, any statements you make, formal or informal, may be recorded in writing and may be used during the investigation and trial. You might be tempted to say something when the police are “unofficially” talking to you, like before the official interrogation. At no time during the course of the judicial procedure or the trial will you be put under oath. It may, however, have a disadvantageous effect on the court's final verdict if you initially offer a statement and then later refuse to make any. It may lead the judge to conclude that facts are being concealed, which would be detrimental to the evaluation of the case. Nevertheless, silence itself cannot be construed as proof of guilt. Partial silence can, however, result in negative conclusions being drawn.  


Additional information