Challenging a criminal judgment

Although other exceptional means of recourse exist (for example, an appeal to a court of cassation), the main options for recourse are appeal and objection.

Who is concerned

Any person who has been sentenced by a criminal court or obtained a default judgment may file an ordinary appeal.

How to proceed

Ordinary means of recourse

Appeal

Any judgment made by a criminal court may be appealed.

The aim of the appeal is to present the case before a higher court so a second ruling can be made.

Objection

Objection is only admissible against a default judgment.

A default judgment is handed down if the defendant does not appear in person at the hearing, or do not use a lawyer to present their defence.

Unlike appeal, an objection seeks to put the case again before the same court that made the original judgment, asking for a new decision to be made.

Deadlines

Time for submitting an appeal

The time allowed for submitting an appeal is 40 days.

Unlike the deadline for appeal in a civil case, the deadline for filing an appeal in a criminal case will not be extended if the appellant resides abroad.

Time for submitting an objection

The time allowed for submitting an objection is 15 days.

Start date for these periods

The allotted time for appeal begins on the day of the judgment – i.e. on the day the judge delivers their decision.

Furthermore, the date of the ruling is stated orally by the judge to the defendant, or to their lawyer, if any, at the end of the plea submission.

In practice, the court clerk will send a copy of the judgment to the defendant or their lawyer a few days after the date of the court decision. Given that the time period for making an appeal starts on the date of the judgment, the defendant or their lawyer may telephone the clerk to find out the verdict, without having to wait for a copy of the judgment.

The time period for making an objection starts on the day when the judgment is provided directly to the defendant or delivered to their address.

Form of recourse

Form of an appeal

In criminal matters, an appeal is made by a simple oral declaration to the court clerk that delivered the judgment.

Example: to appeal against a judgment handed down by the Police Court of Esch-sur-Alzette, appellants must go there in person.

This declaration may be made by the defendant themselves, or by a barrister.

The clerk will then prepare a written declaration of appeal which the appellant must countersign. The appellant will receive a copy of the signed declaration.

Form of objection

An objection is made by sending notice to the prosecutor and to the plaintiff.

There is no special form required for this notice, but it is strongly advisable to send it by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

The reasons for the objection do not need to be expressed in writing. The letter of objection, however, must be signed by the objector, and written in a way that makes it clear which judgment is being challenged.

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