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A system that allows any person to be informed of his or her rights and obligations, outside of any legal proceedings, and of the means to assert them or to enforce them.
It consists of offering, in locations accessible to all, free services (information, guidance, help in completing procedures, legal consultations, etc.).

A person charged with a misdemeanor or infraction who has not yet been tried.

A decision by a court of assizes declaring a defendant tried before it for a crime as not guilty.

Before the initiation of a public suit, several legal procedures can be implemented by the Public Prosecutor in the framework of article 41-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure against the offender: (e.g. reminder of the law, penal mediation, legalization of the situation, request for damages, referral of the perpetrator to a health, social or professional structure)
These measures only concern low-level offences.

The ankle monitor is a means for amending the sentence of a person sentenced to a prison term. Usually worn on the ankle, it is completed by a GPS box. The person undertakes to remain at home at certain times, with the prison administration monitoring compliance with his or her obligations through the ankle monitor worn.

The anti-abuse monitor is an electronic device that allows the perpetrator of violence and the victim to be geolocated in real time: the perpetrator wears a monitor, usually placed on the ankle by a member of the prison administration, while the victim is given a small box that can be slipped into his/her handbag or pocket. This device will be applicable in case of an offence punishable by at least 3 years of imprisonment committed against the victim’s spouse, cohabitant or partner linked by a civil partnership (PACS), including when they are not cohabiting, or committed by the victim’s former spouse or cohabitant or by the person who was linked to her by a civil partnership (PACS).

An informal appeal allows a person who is dissatisfied with a court decision rendered in the first place to have the case re-examined, in both facts and law, by the court of appeal. The person appealing is the “appellant”; the person against whom the appeal is made is the “respondent”. In criminal matters, appeals against verdicts rendered by a trial court are heard by a new trial court.

Jurisdiction to judge crimes. It is composed of 3 professional judges and 6 jurors. In principle, it sits in the county seat or the seat of the court of appeal if there is one in the county. Appeals against conviction verdicts rendered by a court of assizes are reviewed by a new court of assizes composed of 3 professional judges and 9 jurors.


Refers to one or more conflicts between private persons or legal entities (individuals, companies, associations…) which do not constitute an offence in the sense of the penal law, and excluding those involving the administration.

Legal action taken against the perpetrator of an offence to bring him or her before a criminal court. It is initiated by the magistrates of the public prosecutor’s office (Parquet).

The CIVI allows any victim to obtain, under certain conditions, full or capped compensation for their damages.

Simplified trial procedure for offenders who have admitted to the offence and who have been sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison. The offender must be assisted by a lawyer. The public prosecutor proposes a sentence to the defendant. The sentence, which cannot exceed one year of prison or half of the maximum penalty, must be accepted by the defendant and then approved by a judge.

A person who files a complaint in court.

An act by which an injured party asks the criminal authorities to open an investigation into an offence of which he or she has been a victim. Complaints can be filed with the police, gendarmerie or addressed to the public prosecutor.

Procedure allowing the examining magistrate, the police and the gendarmes, to put several people in the presence of each other, so that they can explain the facts for which they have provided different versions..

In criminal matters: a court decision declaring a person guilty of committing an offence and imposing a sentence.

An offshoot of the judicial court, the correctional court judges misdemeanors (e.g., theft, violence, breach of trust, non-payment of alimony, etc.).
It is a collegial court, which rules with several judges, but it can rule with a single judge for certain offences (road traffic offences, thefts, noise attacks…)
It can impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine that varies according to the seriousness of the facts. It can go beyond 10 years for certain offenses.
The court may award damages to the victim (referred to as the civil suit).

A court of the second degree. It re-examines a case already judged by a court.

The highest court of the judicial order, located in Paris. Its role is not to retry a case, but to check that court decisions have been rendered in accordance with the rules of law. An action brought before this court is referred to as lodging an appeal in cassation.

The most serious offence. It is punishable by criminal imprisonment and sometimes other penalties: fines, additional penalties. The crime is judged by the court of assizes.

Provisions of the law, such as mental disorder, duress, self-defense, state of necessity, which exonerate the perpetrator of an offence from criminal responsibility and therefore exclude any conviction against him.

Relating to the application of a sentence, following the commission of an offence.

An alternative measure to criminal prosecution, proposed by the public prosecutor’s office, which consists of “seeking, through the intervention of a third party, a freely negotiated solution between the parties to a conflict arising from a criminal offence”.

The penal settlement is an alternative to criminal prosecution which consists, for the public prosecutor, of proposing to the perpetrator of an offence to carry out actions having the nature of a punishment or restorative measures.. It must be validated by the president of the court. Its execution terminates a public suit.


Damage suffered by a person in his or her property, body, feelings, honour.

Financial compensation to which a person who has suffered moral prejudice and/or damage to his or her property may be entitled.

A person who has been indicted for a crime and referred to an assize court for trial.

Discussion of the judges, after the debates and without the presence of the public, in order to reach their decision.

Decision of an investigating court putting an end to criminal proceedings: when it considers that the offence has not been established or that there is insufficient evidence against the perpetrator or accomplice of the offence; or when the accused person is considered, for example, to be criminally irresponsible at the time of the facts.


Judicial decision authorizing the enforcement in France of a decision rendered by a foreign court or an arbitration court.

Magistrate of the high court in charge of the information of correctional and criminal files.


Judge of the High Court who replaces the judge in matrimonial affairs (law 08.01.1993). He deals with all family disputes, ensures the protection of the interests of minors, is responsible for legal separation and divorce proceedings, and decides after divorce on the custody of the children and changes in alimony.

In the event of an offence, the Public Prosecutor’s Office may decide not to initiate criminal proceedings against the perpetrator. The decision, which must be motivated, can be taken for legal reasons or, depending on the elements of the investigation: unidentified perpetrator, absence or insufficiency of proof, withdrawal of complaint…

Failure to pay to the Treasury a sum of money set by law after an infraction has been committed. The fine can be increased if the payment deadlines are not respected.

An offence that is being committed or has just been committed and that has been observed by the judicial police. When the offence is punishable by a prison sentence, the public prosecutor’s office can quickly bring the accused before the judge, in a hearing called an immediate appearance, to be tried.


Copy of a court decision (or of an authentic act) bearing the executory formula, i.e. the formula necessary to enforce it.

This means the person found by a court or tribunal to be the actual perpetrator of an offence.


The handrail is a unilateral declarative act recorded by a third party (police, gendarmerie). Unlike a complaint, the purpose of the handrail is not to initiate proceedings against the perpetrator but to report the nature and date of the incident to the police. This can be useful in the context of a future trial.


A procedure by which the perpetrator of an offence is brought before the criminal court after police custody, to be tried.

A method of conducting a criminal or civil hearing held without the presence of the public. The president of a court may order a hearing to be held in-camera to avoid disturbances likely to disrupt the serenity of justice, or the revelation of State secrets, or to preserve the privacy of individuals. However, the decision is always rendered and pronounced in open court.

An act by which a victim of a crime or misdemeanor informs the criminal court or the assize court and the accused that he or she is seeking compensation for his or her injury. The victim becomes a civil plaintiff at the time of filing the complaint. He or she can do so at any time up until the day of the trial.


A decision rendered by a High court (district court, commercial court, etc.). In the broadest sense, it refers to any legal decision.

Specialized court of the first degree, judging minors who have been accused.


A legal professional who practices as a legal consultant. The lawyer is registered at a Bar established by each judicial court. He informs his clients about their rights and obligations, the steps and procedures, advises them, assists them and represents their interests before the Court. He sets his own fees. The assistance or representation by a lawyer is mandatory or optional depending on the nature of the case and the competent jurisdictions.

Financial aid allows people with no resources or with modest incomes to have all or part of the costs of a lawsuit covered by the State, depending on the income of the person concerned.
It can be granted before all jurisdictions under the conditions provided for by law and after studying the file filed or sent to the legal aid office. It can also be granted in the case of a transaction outside of a trial or a penal mediation for example.

A contract that allows an insurer to pay, up to a certain amount, the costs necessary to defend the rights of its insured (for example: expert’s fees, lawyer’s fees and legal fees). This insurance can be complementary to a car or home insurance contract or be taken out as a separate contract.


An act or behavior prohibited by law and punishable by law. There are three categories of offences, depending on their seriousness and the penalties incurred: fines, misdemeanors and crimes.

A protective measure put in place by the law of July 9, 2010 “relating to violence specifically against women, violence within couples and the impact of such violence on children”. The protection order is an emergency procedure before the Family Court Judge which ensures several protective layers for the partner victim of violence (physical and psychological) and the child victims (for issues related to housing, resources, parental authority, physical integrity, visitation and accommodation rights, …).


Permanent, partial or total loss of the ability to work, following an occupational disease or accident.

The least serious criminal offence, punishable by a fine or additional penalties. Petty offences are divided into 5 classes, according to the seriousness of the offences to be punished and the penalties applicable to them.

Court of the first degree, ruling with a single judge. It judges 5th class offences.

Decision of a correctional court or a police court. It declares the accused not guilty.

All the rules that concern the acts and life of private individuals or private legal entities (companies, associations).

All the rules relating to the organization and operation of the State, local authorities and the administration, as well as their relations with private individuals.

Magistrate, head of the public prosecutor’s office (public ministry) at a high court or a district court.

All magistrates working in the courts of the judicial system are responsible for representing the interests of society and ensuring respect for public order and the application of the law.

Legal action taken against the perpetrator of an offence to bring him or her before a criminal court.


A decision by a court to transfer a case to another court or to postpone consideration of a case to a later date.

In the case of a minor offence, the public prosecutor can order a reminder of the law. The aim is to make the offender aware that he or she has committed an illegal act, in order to prevent him or her from reoffending.

(in a criminal matter)


The “single judge” procedure involves only one judge sitting alone. This is the case, for example, for matters falling within the jurisdiction of the judge in summary proceedings, or the pre-trial judge, for those dealt with by the enforcement judge, and for those falling within the jurisdiction of the family court.

A criminal sentence that the convicted person is exempted from serving, unless he/she is convicted of another offence within 5 years.


A person who personally and directly suffers physical, material or moral harm as a result of a criminal offence, as opposed to the person who causes it: the perpetrator.

A public service that provides victims of criminal offences with psychological support, information on their rights and assistance with their legal procedures. It calms conflicts and reduces the feeling of isolation among victims.
General victim aid is coordinated by France Victimes (formerly INAVEM). It is made up of a national network of professional associations approved and agreed upon by the Ministry of Justice.
The national network of victim aid associations guarantees personalized and local support.