A criminal complaint is any submission, which conveys a justified suspicion that a crime has been committed.
A criminal complaint can be made in writing, verbally on protocol, in electronic form with a digital signature according to a special legal enactment, or by telefax. The person making a submission in electronic form will also state the certification services provider, which issued their certificate and keep a record thereof, or they will attach the certificate to the submission.
In pre-trial proceedings, the submissions are made verbally on protocol drawn up by the police authorities and the Public Prosecutor’s Offices (in particul on the district level) having subject matter and territorial competence. If there are substantial reasons, they may be recorded also by higher-tier Public Prosecutor’s Offices or Courts. These substantial reasons may consist e.g. in urgency of the submission or in the fact that the person making the submission has a serious medical condition which justifies the need to immediately draw up the criminal complaint.
In case the criminal complaint is filed with a Public Prosecutor’s Office not having subject-matter and territorial competence, it must be immediately forwarded to the competent Public Prosecutor’s Office. The same applies for criminal complaints delivered to a Public Prosecutor’s Office not having subject-matter and territorial competence.
Criminal complaints may be divided to several groups. Ideally the criminal complaint should describe what allegedly happened and what is considered to constitute a criminal offense. Then it must be expeditiously forwarded to a police authority in order to be verified. These may include e.g. reports that an ex-husband does not pay child support etc. Other submissions do not make it clear right away, whether the described conduct actually fulfills the elements of a criminal offense, nevertheless, even such submissions should be verified by the procedure before the initiation of criminal prosecution. For instance, a business partner ordered delivery of goods and it was later found that they owe money to a number of persons and they are subject to enforcement of decisions against their property. In such cases it is necessary to first prove the existence of fraudelent intention in time of takeover of goods, however, these and other so far unclarified circumstances do not prevent initiation of criminal proceedings and pre-trial criminal proceedings.
On the other hand, certain submissions, despite being labeled as such, clearly cannot be construed as criminal complaints, because they do not include even the elementary facts indicating that a crime has been committed (information on criminal offense, the possible perptrator, damage or other harm caused by the criminal offense and other substantial facts).
Submissions are always assessed according to their contents.
Criminal complaints are not in particular the following submissions:
- regular remedial measures according to the Criminal Procedure Code,
- petition to file an extraordinary appeal according to the Criminal Procedure Code ,
- complaint against delays in the course of fulfillment of tasks of the Public Prosecutor’s Office or complaints against inappropriate conduct of public prosecutors, registrars and other employees of the Public Prosecutor’s Office,
- submissions conveying dissatisfaction with the procedure of public prosecutors (both in criminal and non-criminal competence),
- incentives to perform supervision within the system of Public Prosecutor’s Office,
- submissions implying dissatisfaction with decisions of courts,
- submissions in which the submitting person asserts civil-law claims.
In general if the Public Proecutor’s Office receives a submission labeled as criminal complaint, a public prosecutor will review, whether it contains the fundamental facts implying a suspected commission of a criminal offense. If the submission does not contain such facts, the public prosecutor will return it to the submitter with advice on how to rectify the shortcomings and what are the consequences of failure to rectify them in a reasonable time limit, which is thereby granted to them. In exceptional cases they may also order the police authority to perform certain actions pursuant to the Act on the Police of the Czech Republic or the Act on General Inspection of Security Forces in order to clarify the nature of the submission.
Submissions that even after amendment do not contain information that would allow reaching the conclusion that a suspicion of criminal offense exists, despite the fact that the submitter claims the submission is a criminal complaint, will either be adjourned or forwarded to another competent authority to be settled in proceedings on a transgression or another administrative offense or disciplinary offense, provided that the police authority has drawn up a record of initiation of criminal proceedings. In other cases the submitter is notified of the conclusion that the suspicion of commission of criminal offense is clearly unsubstantiated.
Submissions that are not signed by the submitter (anonymous submissions), if they do not support reaching the conclusion that a suspicion of criminal offense exists, will be filed away without any further ado. Other submissions that are not criminal complaints will either be handled by the public prosecutor, in particular by returning them to the submitter with a brief advice on further procedure or by forwarding thereof to the competent authority. Therein the public prosecutor will not issue a formal decion. The submitter will always be notified of the measures taken.