Summoned as a witness in a criminal case

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Hi,

 

My son (12)has been asked to go to a Police station to tell his part in an incident, but his German is nowhere near good enough to understand what is going on (My German is miles worse thanhis as well).

As in the rest of the civilised world do the German Police have to provide an translator for him?

 

Any help appreciated,

 

Cheers,

 

Bruce.

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If your German is insufficient ask them to provide an interpreter, it's your right.

 

Give them ample notice that your son will need this assistance.

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Given his age you have to go with him and you can make sure that he can witness with a good translator. They are approved and taken from a list.

The translator is paid by the government.

If you thing it might be taken to court, I highly advise to sit down with your child and write a summary of what happend in English.

In Germany it can take one year to make the testimonial in front of a judge. By that time he cannot say, what happend or describe clothes etc.

anymore and he might have a hard time in court... if he does not know for sure - he always should say "I cannot say for sure, so I cannot say somethiing related to this point..." rather than giving an opinion. So I hope it is a minor case and won`t go further.

If you have a bad feeling about the translation - ask them to take your English summary into the files as well.

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Any info will be greatly appreciated.

 

I witnessed an assault in October. I had a deposition at the police department (with a translator). Now, I have received a summons to appear at the guy's criminal trial. I know I have to give them advanced notice that I will need a translator as I want to be quite certain (as I did at the deposition)that I am completely understood and that the right thing is said in the right way.

 

My questions:

 

How long do criminal witnesses normally remain on the stand?

The assailant is a neighbor of mine. Is he going to be present during testimony (I expect this) or will they in some other way protect my identity from him? I know I have to state name and location of residence, how specific do I need to be?

I already spoke to my civil lawyer just to get an idea of some items. She indicated that if it is going this far that this is probably not this guy's first rodeo. Will there be any TPOs given to this guy to keep away from me and my wife or am I going to have to start watching my back in the neighborhood?

 

I really have no idea about how this will all go down so I am open to any input.

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As a witness, you will have to wait outside the court room until it's your turn to answer the questions of the judge, the state prosecutor and the lawyer of the accused. After a few minutes you are free to leave the court or take a seat in the court room and listen the rest, as everybody may do.The judge will only ask you if you are Mr. X, no residence etc. Although this will be in the (lawyer's ) files anyway.

 

And no, the judge won't speak out any thing like " you must stay away from Mr. X". That would be part of another story. After you would have received substantial threats.

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You might expect to be questioned by the lawyer (Verteidiger) and the Staatsanwalt as well. If it is a minor case it will still be at the Amtsgericht level - if more violent and higher verdict is expected the Landgericht is in charge.

Only tell tehm the things you remember 100%, do not give your opinion or make something up because you feel pressured by the questioning.

If you do not remember - just say so. Do not mind that it might feel stupid to say two or three times "I do not remember" - it is better than giving details you are not 100% percent certain about. If you mention things you are not certain about do not forget to mention you are in doubt. At the Landgericht level you might longer in to answer questions. Nothing to worry about.

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My husband just received the same kind of letter from the police asking him to attend a witness appointment.  From reading the previous posts here, those that received these letters had some witness connection with the crime in question.  This letter however, states 2 separate supermarket break-ins...one in November 2019 and the other, February 2020, both in the early morning hours.  Just can’t imagine how these crimes or witness there of are connected to his name. The police couldn’t tell him more until next week only that he will have to attend the meeting. 

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Mystery solved...the police had identified the same mobile phone signal in the area of both incidents. The number is registered to my husband though used by my daughter.  She had to check back through WhatsApp messages as to where she had been and with whom.  Good job she kept all old messages! The police said that they are unlikely to follow up and that she needn’t attend the appointment.

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5 hours ago, BobbyDigital said:

I'm not sure how much I like that they are allowed to do that.

 

Technically, it is not really hidden data (I'm sure someone will be along to quote the exact legal lines). You agree to use a mobile phone, you agree to the let mobile provider/tower owner log that connection. Then the police say 'give it'. If you ever decide to murder someone and bury their body in the forest far away, best to leave your mobile on at home and then do your dirty deeds. 

 

What's more interesting is that they're probably sending dozens(?) of these notices to whoever's phone connected to the tower within a certain time frame. Meaning it's a fishing expedition ('Sorry, we can't tell you more, just come to the meeting'). I can understand why the police would use this technique, though it doesn't seem very efficient. I guess they're desperate, and if you can mass surveil everyone why not.

 

If your daughter is a supermarket burglar, she has a great cover now that the police say they aren't interested. 

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16 hours ago, alderhill said:

What's more interesting is that they're probably sending dozens(?) of these notices to whoever's phone connected to the tower within a certain time frame. Meaning it's a fishing expedition ('Sorry, we can't tell you more, just come to the meeting'). I can understand why the police would use this technique, though it doesn't seem very efficient. I guess they're desperate, and if you can mass surveil everyone why not.

 

If your daughter is a supermarket burglar, she has a great cover now that the police say they aren't interested. 

The police woman did tell my husband that several letters had been sent. Most recipients called to enquire what it was all about. Doesn’t seem very efficient to be called for an appointment when most can be simply eliminated over the phone.  
 

I did (jokingly of course) ask my daughter if Netto supermarket burglaries were her Plan B if all didn’t go well with her Abitur! Happy that Abitur did go well so she’ll carry on as a good law abiding citizen.

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On 6/8/2020, 8:51:39, alderhill said:

 

Technically, it is not really hidden data (I'm sure someone will be along to quote the exact legal lines). You agree to use a mobile phone, you agree to the let mobile provider/tower owner log that connection. Then the police say 'give it'. If you ever decide to murder someone and bury their body in the forest far away, best to leave your mobile on at home and then do your dirty deeds. 

 

What's more interesting is that they're probably sending dozens(?) of these notices to whoever's phone connected to the tower within a certain time frame. Meaning it's a fishing expedition ('Sorry, we can't tell you more, just come to the meeting'). I can understand why the police would use this technique, though it doesn't seem very efficient. I guess they're desperate, and if you can mass surveil everyone why not.

 

If your daughter is a supermarket burglar, she has a great cover now that the police say they aren't interested. 

But it is personal data and as such protected by data protection laws. It would be different if they had a suspect and were tracing that suspect via the phone data. But requesting private data about just anyone who happened to be near a crime scene is something totally different.

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37 minutes ago, Namu said:

But requesting private data about just anyone who happened to be near a crime scene is something totally different.

True, but I think it should be possible depending on the offense investigated. It might not be justified say for a report about some jaywalker while totally justified to investigate a terror attack. The question is where to draw the line between those extremes.

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Talking about police inefficiency, around 2007 there was a murder of a baby found in a backpack in the woods of Berlin.   The baby was asian mix and the DNA tests pointed to South East Asia, probably Thailand.   There are some issues with racial profiling, blah, blah, I don't remember all the details now, it was too long ago.  But around 5000 Asian women in Berlin received an invitation for a DNA test, it was not mandatory, but most women accept it because the alternative was to be moved to the list of suspects.  And Asians tend to follow police directions more than westerners.   One officer told me this was pretty inefficient, most of the women should not have been involved, like Chinese, Vietnamese, etc, or women over 50 y/o, but they had to do it in such way and waste time and money, and at that time DNA tests were expensive.  They said the DNA data would be discarded after checking you were not a match.  

 

At the end they found out the mother was indeed a Thai working as a prostitute in Berlin but she left the country already.

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2 hours ago, Namu said:

But it is personal data and as such protected by data protection laws. It would be different if they had a suspect and were tracing that suspect via the phone data. But requesting private data about just anyone who happened to be near a crime scene is something totally different.

The police did tell my husband something along the lines of them having had to go through a data protection legal process to access phone records.  I can only guess that the data analysis can’t just have been ‘anyone’ near both crime scenes as my daughter’s friends whom she was with on both occasions would also have received the same witness requests. Maybe more likely, as the phone is registered in my husband’s name, he, as a middle aged man might fit the profile from other witnesses.  We’ll never know. 

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6 minutes ago, emkay said:

The police did tell my husband something along the lines of them having had to go through a data protection legal process to access phone records.  I can only guess that the data analysis can’t just have been ‘anyone’ near both crime scenes as my daughter’s friends whom she was with on both occasions would also have received the same witness requests. Maybe more likely, as the phone is registered in my husband’s name, he, as a middle aged man might fit the profile from other witnesses.  We’ll never know. 

If "Tatort" is a reliable source, they need a judge´s approval to ask cellphone service providers for their data. Which would seem reasonable to me.

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2 hours ago, jeba said:

If "Tatort" is a reliable source, they need a judge´s approval to ask cellphone service providers for their data. Which would seem reasonable to me.

Tatort is a movie about severe offenses such as murder or rape, though.

 

I am not sure the police can do this in case of "normal" bank robbery. Maybe, someone was killed there or injured?

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