What is a crime?

We understand crime to be a voluntary, or sometimes a negligent behaviour, that violates either the Penal Code or specific laws. The aim of these laws is to protect and safeguard society’s fundamental legal interests, such as life, freedom, physical and moral integrity, sexual self-determination and property.

How to report a crime

You can present your complaint or report (crime report) to any of these authorities: Public Prosecution Service (Ministério Público, MP); Judiciary Police (Polícia Judiciária, PJ); Public Security Police (Polícia de Segurança Pública, PSP) and National Republican Guard (Guarda Nacional Republicana, GNR).
Any of these authorities has the duty to receive all complaints and reports presented to them, even if the crime hasn’t been committed in their area or, in the case of the police forces, the investigation is not under their responsibility.
Any victim who files a complaint or a report is entitled to receive a written acknowledgement immediately without having to request it. This acknowledgement is evidence that the complaint or the report was filed and contains a description of the essential facts of the crime, including the type of act, the date and place of this occurrence and the damage caused.

Why Should I report a crime?

Reporting a crime is always the first step in criminal proceedings. Only after the complaint is made can authorities know that the crime occurred and start the investigation.
If you are the victim or a witness to a crime, it is very important that you report it to the authorities. If you do so, then it is more likely that the person who committed the crime is caught, made responsible and prevented from doing the same again, either to you or to others.
It might be necessary to report the crime to claim your rights to insurance or compensation. Reporting the crime is also important for compiling crime statistics, and for crime prevention actions.
It is mandatory for the police authorities to report any crime they become aware of and for their staff as well, either in the exercise of, or because of their duties. Reporting a crime is mandatory for anyone becoming aware of situations that put at risk the life, the physical or psychological integrity or the freedom of a child or young person aged under 18.

Types of Crime

In so far as the types of crime and the reporting process involved, there are three classifications, the most common examples being as follows:

Public crimes – Examples of public crimes are homicide, abduction, sexual abuse of children, domestic violence, robbery and theft. It is sufficient that the Public Prosecution Service (PSP) becomes aware of the crime in any way for criminal proceedings to start. That is, the process is initiated regardless of the victim’s will and the crime can be reported by anyone.

Semi-public crimes – are, for example, rape, simple theft and some offences to one’s physical integrity (assault), threats, criminal damage. Criminal proceedings for these crimes only start after the victim of the crime has reported it. That is, the public prosecutor can start criminal proceedings if the victim is willing and makes a complaint within six months after the crime takes place.

Private crimes – are, for example, defamation, libel or slander. Criminal proceedings for private crimes and for semi-public crimes start in the same way: the Public Prosecution Service can only open a process if the victim files a complaint. Then, after the complaint is made, the victim has ten days to request his/her role as assistant and the intervention of a lawyer.
In general the semi- public crimes, which are committed by direct relatives (example: son against parents, and between husband and wife) are considered private crimes.

Reporting Corruption

Combating and eliminating corruption is a responsibility of everyone and those who do not report, knowing the relevant facts, also has its share of guilt.
Thus, all those who have felt directly affected by corruption or who have privileged information are invited to use this means to contact the authorities responsible for the investigation.
These crimes can be reported directly to the Public Ministry, DCIAP (Departmento Central de Investigacao e Accao Penal), by using their online reporting facility available here.
More information about reporting a crime, the court process and your rights as a victim can be downloaded in English here

Reporting a Crime on-line

It is also possible to report certain crimes on-line. However in doing this you still need to visit a police station within 48 hours to confirm your identity.Please visit our page here which deals with this subject.