This glossary lists technical and legal words you might read on this website. Sometimes we might explain a word by using another word. For example, we explain “barrister”, and we use this word later to help us explain other words.


Ad hoc Administrator

A natural or legal person (e.g. an association) appointed by the courts who, in the case in hand, replaces (substitutes) the defaulting legal representatives in order to protect the rights of the minor and exercise them on the child’s behalf. They represent and accompany the minor throughout the procedure.

Adversarial Principle

The adversarial principle guarantees each party the right to be informed of the factual, legal, and evidential arguments on which they will be judged.
An adversarial judgment is a judgement in which all the parties have participated, having been summoned to appear, attended the trial and put forward their grounds of defence.


Case for the prosecution and the defence

Evidence proving the innocence and guilt of the defendant.

Civil Party

Refers to a victim who participates in the criminal proceedings by ‘registering as a civil party’. This allows them to exercise certain rights, in particular to access to the entire criminal file and to ask the court to compensate the harm they have suffered.

Court of Assizes

A court with jurisdiction to try crimes. It is composed of three professional judges and six jurors (nine for an appeal). It sits in the administrative centre of the department, or at the court of appeal if there is one in the department.

Court-ordered Restriction

Restrictive measure of freedom put in place on the defendant in a criminal case to one or more obligations. These restrictions may be applied during the investigation or pending trial. Court-ordered restrictions are decided by an Investigating Judge or by a Bail and Custodial Procedures Judge.

Crime Victims Compensation Board (CIVI)

A civil court where any victim can, under certain conditions, obtain compensation (full or capped) for the damage caused by a criminal offence. There is one CIVI for each court, comprising two judges and an assessor. The CIVI examines the application submitted by the victim, takes note of the opinion of the FGTI (who will have made an offer of compensation, or not), if applicable, the Prosecutor ; it then renders a decision; this is either a confirmation decision if it agrees with the amount of compensation decided by the FGTI and the victim; or the decision is issued following an adversarial hearing, if it does not agree with the FGTI.

Criminal Settlement

An alternative measure to criminal prosecution, valid only for certain offences (theft, violence, threats, damage, etc.), whereby the Public Prosecutor proposes to the perpetrator, with his or her agreement, that he or she fulfil one or more obligations (e.g. payment of a fine, surrender of his or her driving licence, repair of damage caused to the victim).



A person suspected of having participated in committing an offence.



The Guarantee Fund for Victims of Terrorist and Other Criminal Acts (Fonds de Garantie des Victimes des actes de Terrorisme et d’autres Infractions – FGTI) is a French organisation created in 1990 responsible for compensating directly victims of terrorist attacks and other criminal offences through the CIVI or SARVI, according to different procedures and conditions provided for by the law. It can then take recourse against the perpetrator to recover the sums it has paid to the victim.

Forensic Medical Institute

A place where a doctor assesses the nature and extent of the injuries (physical or psychological) suffered by a victim, at the request of the Public Prosecutor. The doctor also determines the causes of a victim’s injuries, including the causes of death.



Investigating Judge

A judge in charge of judicial investigations in the most serious or complex criminal cases. They have a two-fold mission: to impartially determine the truth and to take certain jurisdictional decisions.


Judicial Investigation

An investigation carried out by the Investigating Judge after it is referred a case by the Public Prosecutor or at the request of the victim.
A stage of criminal proceedings during which the Investigating Judge conducts investigations to determine whether there are sufficient charges against the offender to bring him or her to trial.

Judicial Requisition

A requisition is a binding measure taken by the judicial authorities to order the performance of certain services and, in certain cases, to lift professional secrecy.


Legal Aid

Financial assistance, paid by the State, to cover all or some of the costs of the legal proceedings. It is awarded based on the means of the applicant, except for the most serious offences, and helps people who cannot afford a lawyer, a notary, or an expert.

Legal Representative

A person appointed by law to represent and defend the interests of another person, whether an individual (e.g. a minor represented by his or her father or mother) or legal person (e.g. a company represented by its director).

Limitation Period (criminal)

The length of time after which a case can no longer be brought to court for prosecution.


Order to dismiss

A decision by the Investigating Judge or the Investigating Chamber at the end of the judicial investigation, declaring that there are no grounds for prosecution.


Payment into Court (deposit)

A sum of money equivalent to the amount of a fine, which must be paid to the Treasury by a victim in order to guarantee the seriousness of his or her claim (e.g. when filing a complaint as a civil party). The judge sets the amount of this deposit according to the victim’s income.


A sum granted as an advance to a victim by a court or an organisation (e.g. FGTI, insurance), to cover the initial costs and loss of income related to the offence, until the final sum can be paid.

Public Prosecution

A case brought before a criminal court to obtain a sentence against the perpetrator of an offence. Although it may be initiated by a civil party, it is always carried out by judges or civil servants, who are granted this duty by law.

Public Prosecutor’s Submissions

Requests made by the Public Prosecutor to the judge, at the end of the debating stage of a criminal case.



An alternative measure to prosecution which consists, during an official meeting, of informing the perpetrator of the rule of law, the expected penalty and the risks of punishment if they reoffend. The aim is to make the perpetrator aware of the consequences of their actions.


Severe Imprisonment

Custodial sentence for a crime. For misdemeanours, the term is simply ‘imprisonment’.


Victim notice

A victim notice is a document containing several information for the victim of a criminal offence, including the court before which the trial will take place, the date and time of the hearing, and the possibility for the victim to register as a civil party to the proceedings.

I was a victim of a criminal offence: consequences and reactions The rights of victims of a criminal offence Criminal proceedings Who is who in criminal proceedings

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