The accused is the person against whom the Public Prosecutor's Office formulates the accusations regarding the crimes they are charged with. The accusations contain the indication of the violated rules, the description of the facts, the time, and the place of the events. Regarding the accused, the Public Prosecutor's Office requests the First Instance Judge to accept the indictment for trial. The accused has the right to a defence by a lawyer who prepares and supports their defence.


An alternative measure to any criminal action, valid only for certain crimes (minimum sentence of up to 4 years, and the crime must be committed without violence or serious threat, not applying to crimes committed in the context of domestic and family violence). In this, the Public Prosecutor's Office proposes to the offender, with their consent, the reparation of the harm caused to the victim and the fulfilment of one or more diverse obligations (for example, community service, pecuniary restitution, etc.).


Omissions in the indictment or complaint can be rectified at any time before the final judgment through an amendment. This measure can also correct errors in the document (such as the defendant's name, date, or location of the crime, etc.). It is also feasible if the emergence of new evidence necessitates a change in the accusation.


When one of the parties in the trial intends to obtain a modification of the first-instance judgment, they can file an appeal. The appeal must be in writing and contain all arguments aimed at changing, in a favourable sense, the first-instance judgment (in this case, it is called the contested judgment). The appeal process will be handled by the Court of Justice or the Federal Regional Court, which may completely modify, partially reform, or confirm the first-instance judgment.


It is the victim (offended party) of the crime who acts as a collaborator of the Public Prosecutor's Office. Their responsibilities include intervening in the investigation and in the instruction (e.g., offering evidence) and appealing decisions that affect them, except in cases where there is a legal or jurisprudential prohibition. In crimes of public criminal action, their participation is optional, with the victim typically being represented by the Public Prosecutor's Office. In private criminal action crimes, this figure does not exist because the victim is usually the plaintiff themselves.



Crimes where the State has the duty to investigate and punish, provided there is prior authorisation from the victim (representation).


With Conditional Suspension of Proceedings, the accused is subjected to some mandatory activities, including prohibition from leaving the jurisdiction for more than 8 days without judicial authorisation; restitution of damages, unless impossible; prohibition from frequenting certain places; mandatory personal appearance in court monthly to report and justify their activities. The program may include a set of obligations related to domicile, freedom of movement, and the prohibition of frequenting certain places, in addition to those essential for the defendant's reintegration. Completing the suspension period results in the declaration of the crime's extinction. If a new criminal offence is committed during the suspension, the proceedings are resumed.


A crime is an unlawful act, as defined and described in criminal law, for which the law provides for the imposition of a penalty. Offences are divided into crimes (intentional or negligent), which constitute a violation of legal rights and are punished with imprisonment and/or a fine, and misdemeanours, which constitute violations of minor state interests and are punished with simple imprisonment and a fine.


It refers to the right of the state prosecutor or the victim to enter court, requesting judicial services, which is represented by applying criminal law norms to a specific case.


A custodial sentence for crimes punishable by imprisonment. In layman's terms, it is "imprisonment."


Deprivation of liberty as a penalty for crimes punishable by imprisonment. In layman's terms, it is referred to as "imprisonment."


A judge from the jurisdiction responsible for criminal investigations and criminal proceedings. They have a dual mission: to impartially seek the truth and make jurisdictional decisions.




Damage is the measure, quantified in monetary terms, of the overall harm suffered by the injured party. The components of damage include Financial Damage (incurred expenses and loss of income), Biological Damage (reduction in psychophysical integrity), Non-material Damage (Moral Damage), and Additional Damage (damage to reputation, damage due to loss of opportunity).


The deadline for filing an indictment is 5 days if the accused is in custody and 15 days if they are at liberty (Article 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure), counted from the date the Public Prosecutor's Office receives the case for review. If the case returns to the police station for further investigation, the deadlines are restarted from the beginning when it returns to the prosecutor. In some important special laws, the deadlines may be different. For example, in drug trafficking cases, the deadline set in Article 54 of Law No. 11,343/2006 is 10 days. However, these deadlines are not strict, so the Public Prosecutor's Office can still file the indictment after their expiration. Failure to meet the deadline has other consequences:

  • The possibility for the imprisoned defendant to request their release.
  • The possibility for the victim to file a subsidiary criminal complaint.


According to Article 38 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the right to file a representation must be exercised within 6 months from the day the victim or their legal representative discovers the perpetrator's identity. The law refers to the deadline for filing the representation, and the Public Prosecutor's Office can still file charges even after this period. The deadline for filing the representation is a statute of limitations (Article 38 of the Code of Criminal Procedure), but it only starts running after the victim or their representative discovers the perpetrator's identity.


The Debate is the crucial phase of the trial. It follows the phase of introductory acts in the trial process and is followed by the phase of discussion and conclusions. During the Debate, the evidentiary allegations presented by the Parties are developed and examined in the judgment.

defendant / ACCUSED

A procedural status is assigned to a person who is suspected of having committed a crime and grants them a set of procedural rights and duties. It is also referred to as a defendant or accused in cases of public criminal action crimes and as a complainant in private criminal action crimes. The minimum requirements are proof of the existence of the crime and sufficient evidence of authorship. They are also referred to as a defendant, accused, or suspect.


A way to close the investigation, which results in the accused not being brought to trial due to insufficient evidence that the crime occurred or that it was committed by a specific suspect.



The Public Prosecutor's Office has a dual function: on the one hand, it supervises the procedures carried out during the police investigation, exercising external control over police activities; on the other hand, it conducts criminal proceedings and represents the prosecution in court.


For assessments that require specific technical or scientific knowledge and skills, the judge may appoint an expert in the field. The expert's mission is to answer specific questions posed by the judge in a written report called an expert opinion.



If there is sufficient evidence of authorship and materiality of a public action crime in the police investigation or the information, and there are no impediments to the exercise of criminal action, the Public Prosecutor's Office must file an indictment.



It is a form of closure of the police investigation or criminal investigative procedure that results in the defendant being brought to trial for the commission of certain crimes. Typically, this is done by the Public Prosecutor's Office, but it can also be carried out by the assisting party when private criminal action crimes are involved.


The injured party is the individual who has suffered financial, moral, psychological, and emotional harm due to the committed crime. The injured party has the right to be assisted by a lawyer. In any case, the injured party can interact with the Judiciary, submit documents, and provide evidence. Additionally, the injured party has the right to obtain information from the Judicial Authority, Public Prosecutor's Office, or the Judicial Police regarding their case and information related to protective measures decreed in their favour.


The Institute of Criminalistics assists justice by providing technical evidence about locations, materials, objects, instruments, and people to instruct criminal proceedings. This work is carried out by criminal experts who prepare reports regarding incidents where a criminal offence has left some trace.


The victim who does not speak the language being utilised has the right to be assisted, free of charge, regardless of the outcome of the process, by an interpreter to understand the content of documents and acts carried out. The interpreter is appointed by the Judicial Authority.



It is the decision of a collegiate body of a Court or Recourse Board that differs from the verdict, interlocutory decision, and mere procedural order.


Judicial authorities include judges, appellate court judges, and justices of higher courts.


A Judicial Officer collaborates with the Judicial Authority; their main function is to notify the parties of legal proceedings.


Requisition is a binding measure taken by the judicial authority to demand the provision of specific information or the performance of acts by an individual or legal entity. Failure to comply with it results in committing the offence of disobedience.



The legal expert and professional who can advise and represent various subjects and procedural participants in court, including the victim, whether they are a witness or an assisting prosecutor. The lawyer is a professional with a legal background and is qualified to practice law. They are registered with the Order of Brazilian Lawyers. The lawyer represents and defends the Suspect, the Accused, and the Victim. On behalf of their client, the lawyer carries out the appropriate and necessary legal actions for their defence.


Financial support, fully or partially provided by the state, covering expenses related to the judicial process. It assists people who do not have the means to finance a lawyer or even an expert examination.


A person designated by law to represent and defend the interests of another person, whether physical (e.g., a minor child represented by a parent) or legal (e.g., a company represented by its manager).



The place where it is the duty of the doctor to assess the nature and extent of injuries (physical or psychological) suffered by the victim at the request of the police authority, the Public Prosecutor's Office, or the judge. This doctor also determines the causes of the victim's injuries, particularly the causes of their death.



A document that lists various pieces of information intended for the victim of a criminal offence, including the court where the trial will take place, the date and time of the hearing, as well as the possibility for the victim to submit documents.



An exposition that each of the parties - the Public Prosecutor's Office, lawyers, or public defenders for the assisting prosecutor and the accused - is entitled to make after presenting evidence to present the factual and legal conclusions that, in their opinion, result from the evidence. When the trial is converted into the submission of written arguments by the parties, the document is called "memorials."



The penalty is the law's consequence if a person commits a crime. Penalties consist of depriving the offender of their freedom (imprisonment, detention, simple imprisonment), community service, or the deprivation of part of their property. In Brazil, penalties include deprivation of liberty, restrictive rights, and fines. Penalties are imposed by the judge against the offender only at the end of the trial, where their guilt is determined. They cannot have contents contrary to human dignity, must be proportional to the seriousness of the crime, and should aim at rehabilitating the offender.


A Police Chief in Brazil is a state career composed of public servants belonging to the ranks of the Civil Police or the Federal Police. In the Civil Police, by legal delegation received at the time of taking office, in accordance with the respective Functional Statutes, they represent the heads of the police institutions in the police jurisdictions to which they are assigned, exercising their competencies and duties in performing their functions. The Federal Police oversee police investigations and direct activities of judicial police, but the exercise of administrative leadership functions depends on appointment to a commission position.


A document prepared by the police, either civil or military. Based on it, the police authority issues an order and initiates the police investigation. Another way to initiate an investigation is through the victim's request, the requisition of the Public Prosecutor's Office, or the Minister of Justice.


A Police Scribe is one of the agents of the Police Authority, responsible for verifying the legitimacy of the attributions of the judicial police in the clarification of crimes and other incidents.


These are provisional measures taken against a suspect or defendant to prevent them from fleeing, committing another crime, or tampering with already collected evidence while awaiting trial. Precautionary measures are divided into coercive measures and disqualification measures. Coercive measures limit the personal freedom of the affected individual (e.g., custody in prison or house arrest). Disqualification measures limit the professional or social activities of the affected individual (e.g., suspension of work activities). It is important to note that precautionary measures do not serve as a sanction.


The deadline after which justice can no longer be pursued to initiate a lawsuit.


The 1988 Federal Constitution, Article 5, paragraph LVII, established the principle of the presumption of innocence, according to which no one shall be considered guilty until a final conviction is reached. The presumption of innocence principle is of utmost importance in criminal law because it ensures that the defendant is considered innocent until the final judgment. It also guarantees the defendant all means to prove their innocence within the criminal process.


The principle of contradiction guarantees each party the right to be informed of the factual, legal, and evidentiary arguments upon which they will be judged. A judgment is considered contradictory when all parties have intervened since receiving the citation to appear, attended hearings, and presented their defence means.


Crimes for which it is up to the victim to initiate a criminal action within six (6) months of becoming aware of the facts or identifying who committed them.


This action can only be initiated by the victim. If the victim is a minor, one must wait until they turn 18. If the victim is mentally ill, one must wait for possible recovery. In case of death, the action cannot be initiated by the heirs. If the action has already been initiated by the date of death, it is extinguished due to the impossibility of succession. In this type of infraction, the law clarifies that proceedings only occur through a complaint by the victim. Currently, the only article in the Penal Code related to this type of criminal action is Article 236 of the CP.


This action is initiated by the victim in the case of public action crimes, a possibility only when the Public Prosecutor's Office does not present any manifestation within the legal timeframe. To make use of the private criminal action subsidiary to the public, the victim has six months, starting from when the timeframe for the Public Prosecutor's Office to offer the complaint expires (art. 38, caput, 2nd part, c/c art. 46, caput, of the CPP).


If the prosecutor believes that the act is atypical, that there is some exclusion of unlawfulness present, that the statute of limitations has already expired, or that there is insufficient evidence of authorship or materiality, they should promote the archiving of the case. In this case, two scenarios may occur:

  • The judge agrees with the request and orders the case to be archived.
  • The judge disagrees with the request for archiving and, in accordance with Article 28 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, forwards the case to the Attorney General. It is up to the Public Prosecutor's Office to decide whether or not to initiate criminal proceedings.


Requisition is a binding measure taken by the public prosecutor to demand the provision of specific information or the performance of acts by an individual or legal entity. Failure to comply with it results in committing the offence of disobedience.


It is the action where the initiative to start is exclusive to the Public Prosecutor's Office (public body) in terms of art. 129, I, of the Federal Constitution. For this reason, when there are signs of authorship and materiality collected during investigations, the offering of the complaint becomes mandatory.


The request from the Minister of Justice is also a condition for continuance. In certain criminal offences, the legislator understood it is pertinent for the Minister of Justice to assess the political convenience of initiating the criminal action by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This occurs when a foreigner commits a crime against a Brazilian outside the national territory (art. 7, § 3, b, of the CP) or when a crime is committed against the honour of the President of the Republic or a foreign government chief (art. 145, sole paragraph, of the CP). In these cases, the complaint can only be offered if the request is present.


The public defender is a legal professional appointed by the state to represent individuals who cannot afford legal representation, providing a form of free legal assistance. In the case of criminal offences, if the offender has the means to hire a lawyer but does not do so, they will be assisted by the public defender, but not free of costs.


The Public Prosecutor's Office has a dual function: on the one hand, it supervises the procedures carried out during the police investigation, exercising external control over police activities; on the other hand, it conducts criminal proceedings and represents the prosecution in court.


The Public Prosecutor's Office has a dual function: on the one hand, it supervises the procedures carried out during the police investigation, exercising external control over police activities; on the other hand, it conducts criminal proceedings and represents the prosecution in court.



It is the act by which the judge accepts the accusation made by the Public Prosecutor's Office. The decision to receive the indictment is of a simple interlocutory nature, and, as such, according to Article 800, II, of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPP), the judge has a period of 5 days to issue it (not 1 day, as some authors claim). With the receipt of the indictment, the action is considered initiated, interrupting the running of the statute of limitations, according to Article 117, I, of the Penal Code.


It is the document that describes and records what happened during a specific act in the judicial process, such as a trial hearing. It is also called a hearing record.


When the judge does not accept the accusation made, the grounds for rejection include manifest inadequacy (Article 395, I, of the CPP), lack of procedural prerequisites (Article 395, II, 1st part, of the CPP), lack of a cause of action (Article 395, II, 2nd part, of the CPP), and lack of just cause for the exercise of criminal action (Article 395, III, of the CPP). That's why merely reporting a crime to the authorities is sometimes not enough, as our legislation establishes strict requirements for exercising criminal action.


The act by which the victim authorises the State to investigate and prosecute a criminal offence whose criminal action is conditionally public. Representation is directed at investigating a specific criminal act, not the perpetrators of the criminal offence identified by the victim. Therefore, with representation, the Public Prosecutor's Office is authorised to initiate criminal action against any person identified as involved in the offence. It should be noted that representation is often offered without knowledge of the authorship so that the police can start an investigation to determine it.


Restorative Justice is a theoretical and practical approach that primarily considers crime as harm to individuals. From this, the obligation of the offender to repair the consequences of their actions arises. For this reason, the victim, the offender, and the civilian community are actively involved in seeking and implementing actions and solutions to repair the harm caused by the crime.




The active party (plaintiff) in a private criminal action is called the complainant, while the accused is referred to as the defendant. The procedural document that initiates the private action is called a private complaint and must be addressed to the competent judge, not the police. When the victim of a private criminal action wants the police to initiate an investigation, they should submit a request to the police to initiate an inquiry, not a private complaint. If the offended party already has evidence indicating that a specific person committed the offence against them, they must submit a private complaint to the court within 6 months from the date the authorship was discovered. The private complaint must meet the requirements listed in Article 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code.


Representation can be submitted by the victim or their legal representative. The possibility of initiation by the legal representative is limited to cases where the victim is under 18 years of age or incapacitated due to illness or mental retardation. If the deadline expires for the legal representative (who knows the authorship of the offence) while the victim is still under 18 years old, decadence (expiration) occurs, and the victim cannot file a representation once they reach legal age. If the victim under 18 years old does not have a legal representative, the judge must appoint a special guardian to assess the appropriateness of filing a representation. If the victim is of legal age and mentally capable, only they can file a representation. If, for instance, the victim under 18 years old knew the authorship of the offence but did not report it to the legal representative, the decadence period only begins to run when they turn 18 years old. In the event of the death of a victim of legal age, the right to file a representation can be exercised by the spouse, partner, ascendant, descendant, or sibling.


The Public Prosecutor's Office is a guardian of the law (custos legis) in all private criminal action cases. Its role is to verify that the procedures adopted are correct and that the parties' rights are being protected. To do this, it must always have access to the case files and participate in hearings. If an investigation is initiated in a private criminal action case, it must be sent to the court upon its conclusion, where it will await the possible filing of a criminal complaint. However, when the case files arrive in court, the Public Prosecutor's Office should review them to see if the crime being investigated is, by any chance, a public action crime or connected to a crime of this nature. It should also analyse whether any cause of extinguishment of punishment has occurred (prescription, decadence, waiver), in which case it should request that the judge declare it. At the end of the proceedings, the Public Prosecutor's Office must express its conviction regarding the acquittal or conviction of the accused.



Works with public service and registry routines and receives documents and protocols, among other activities.


The sentence is the written disposition with which the judge defines and concludes the trial. The sentence consists of two main parts: the dispositive, i.e., the decision, and the motivation, i.e., the presentation of the reasons that underpin the decision.


A special guardian for minors, appointed by the court, acts on behalf of and in the best interests of the minor when parents or guardians cannot do so.



It is the document that describes and records what happened during a specific act in the judicial process, such as a trial hearing. It is also called a record or minutes.


A term of imprisonment is one of the main kinds of penalty in criminal proceedings and consists of depriving the offender of his or her freedom by ordering them to spend time in prison.



Crimes for which the law does not require any action by the victim, merely notifying the competent authorities of the incident. When a criminal statute does not specify the type of criminal action, the crime is generally considered a case of unconditional public action. This is, in fact, the rule in criminal law, as the overwhelming majority of crimes are prosecuted through unconditional public action: homicide, abortion, robbery, kidnapping, extortion, document forgery, embezzlement, corruption, contempt, false testimony, drug trafficking, torture, among many others.



The victim may coincide with the Injured Party. However, there are cases where the victim differs from the Injured Party. In the case of homicide, for example, the victim is the person whose death was caused, and the Injured Parties are the victim's family members who suffered damages due to the death.



A witness is a person capable of orally recounting, during the trial, the elements necessary to reconstruct facts. The testimony of a witness occurs through questions posed to them by the parties and the judge for clarification. Witnesses must respond truthfully, and making false statements can lead to perjury charges.

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