Reporting a crime
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.
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 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.
- Robbery – Roubo, Art.º 210º do Código Penal
- Qualified theft – Furto Qualificado, Art.º 204º do Código Penal
- Domestic violence – Violência Doméstica, Artº 152º do Código Penal
- Murder – Homicídio, Artº 131º do Código Penal
- Kidnapping – Sequestro, Art.º 158º do Código Penal
- Qualified swindle – Burla Qualificada, Artº 218 do Código Penal
Semi-public crimes – are, for example, rape, simple theft and some offences to one’s physical integrity. 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.
- Offence to the physical integrety (Assualt) – Ofensas á Integridade Física, Artº 143º do Código Penal
- Theft – Furto, Art.º 203º do Código Penal
- Swindle – Burla, Artº 217 do Código Penal
- Threat – Ameaça, Artº 153 do Código Penal
- Coercion – Coação, Artº 154º do Código Penal
- Damage – Dano, Artº 2012º do Código Penal
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.
- Abuse of confidence- Abuso de confiança – Artº 207º do Código Penal
- Slander – Difamação, Artº 180º do Código Penal
- Injury – Injuria, Artº 181º do Código Penal
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.
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.
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