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Service of a German summary penalty order abroad

This article provides you with important information in the event that a German summary penalty order is served abroad. Compared to the service of a summary penalty order in Germany, the service abroad has some special features which we would like to point out here.

Service of a German summary penalty order abroad

If you live abroad and are a defendant in a criminal investigation in Germany, it may be necessary to appoint a representative ad litem. It is important for the German investigating authorities that the accused can be served. The appointment of a representative ad litem is often ordered by the public prosecutor’s office following a provisional arrest. In this way, the accused can often avoid being remanded in custody.

The cause of improper service

In such cases, defendants often receive a form on which court employees at the local court or police officers are listed as representatives ad litem. Accused persons usually agree to this procedure as they are advised to do so. However, the investigating authorities are only interested in ensuring the service of a German summary penalty order abroad, for example. Often, the accused have no legal assistance from a criminal defense lawyer during a provisional arrest, which would prevent such a procedure.

Rights of the accused in the event of service abroad

In a new decision, the Heilbronn Regional Court ruled on November 14, 2022 (2 Qs 91/22) that this practice is inadmissible. In particular, such a practice violates the court decision requirement according to Section 132(2) of the German Code of Criminal Procedure StPO, in the absence of exigent circumstances. This means that the public prosecutor’s office alone may not order service to be made on a representative ad litem. The decision is also correct, as defendants are particularly worthy of protection when a German summary penalty order is served abroad simply because of their lack of language skills.

Start of the objection period in the event of service abroad

It should also be noted that when a German summary penalty order is served abroad, the time limit for lodging an objection to a summary penalty order only begins to run when the defendant has actual knowledge of it (judgment of the European Court of Justice of May 14, 2020 (C-615/18)). In the past, there have been cases in which defendants were only served with summary penalty orders after the objection period had expired. As a result, defendants were no longer able to exercise their rights, or only to a limited extent. It is therefore very important to react to such circumstances in a timely and appropriate manner.

Our tip:

In a preliminary investigation, defendants should hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early as possible. In the event of a provisional arrest, defendants should insist on being allowed to contact a lawyer of their choice.

If you have any questions or need legal support, our law firm will be glad to assist you. We recommend defendants who are dealing with the service of a German summary penalty order abroad to contact us