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This glossary provides brief information aimed at facilitating the understanding of some court documents that are typically notified in the initial phase of the criminal proceedings. In fact, at that moment, the citizen usually has not yet had the opportunity to confront a criminal lawyer, able to explain the significance of the notification and the possible consequences and powers underlying it. This factor can cause errors, which risk negatively affecting the continuation of the judicial case. 

Notice of criminal proceedings in Italy notified to the suspect abroad - Art. 169 cpp (Italian Criminal Procedure Code)

When the public prosecutor is aware of the whereabouts of the suspect abroad, he can notify by post a notice with which the person is informed of the pending criminal proceedings in Italy, inviting it to elect trial domicile in Italy to allow for subsequent notifications.


At this point, it is strongly advisible that the recipient of the notification finds an italian criminal defense lawyer whom he wants to entrust his defense in the criminal proceedings and elects his domicile at the lawyer's office. Not reacting to this notice not only would not bring you any benefits but could have a strong negative effect on your legal rights and defense possibilities. If a domicilе has not been elected within 30 days of notification, a legal aid lawyer will be appointed, to whom the subsequent notifications will be served.

Verification of identification, election of domicile and possible appointment of the criminal defense attorney - Articles 349, 161 and 96 of the Code of Criminal Procedure

The judicial police can proceed to identify the suspect and other persons able to report circumstances relevant to the reconstruction of the facts. When the judicial police identifies the suspect, it invites him to elect a domicile for the notifications pursuant to art. 161 c.p.p. and may also invite him to appoint a defense lawyer, at whose office the suspect can elect his domicile.

Guarantee information and the right of defense - Articles 369 and 369-bis cpp

The suspect and the crime-victim get notified when the public prosecutor prepares to carry out a non-repeatable investigative act, to which the lawyer has the right to assist.


These acts consist mainly of unrepeatable technical checks, searches, inspections, seizures or in an interrogation or comparison.


The warranty information contains an indication of the legal provisions that are assumed to be violated, the date and place of the fact, in addition to the details of the criminal proceedings and the name of the public prosecutor. The latter must also contain an invitation to appoint a lawyer, or the appointment of a legal aid defense lawyer, who can always be replaced by another trusted  lawyer appointed by the person under investigation.


The omitted or the incomplete notification of the guarantee information invalidates the investigative measures subsequently carried out by the prosecutor.

Invitation to appear or ask questions (summons) Art. 370 and 375 cpp

The public prosecutor, personally or by delegating the judicial police, can summon the suspect to appear when he has to proceed with acts that require his presence. The summons to appear before the authorities contains: the details of the suspect; the day, time and place of the required appearance and the authority before which the person must present himself; the type of deed for which the summons is prepared; the warning that the public prosecutor can order the coercive accompaniment in case of non-submission to the summons.


When the person is summonsed to appear for interrogation, the summons also contains a summary of the facts that results from the investigations carried out until then.


The summons to appear is notified at least three days before the date set for the appearance.

Notice of the conclusion of the investigations - Art. 415-bis cpp

At the end of the investigations, the public prosecutor, when he does not request archiving, shall notify the suspect and his Italian defense attorney of the conclusion of the investigations.

When no unrepeatable acts have been carried out previously , this notice can be notified together with the guarantee information (articles 369 and 369-bis c.p.p.).

The notice contains the summary statement of the facts that are debited to the accused person, with mention of the place and date, and the indication of the criminal law norms that are assumed to be violated.

The notice also contains the warning:

- that the documentation of the investigations carried out is filed with the secretariat of the public prosecutor and that the suspect and his lawyer are entitled to view and extract a copy;

- that the suspect has the right, within a period of 20 days, to present defense memoranda, produce documents, request new investigative measures, make statements or submit to interrogation.

Notice of fixation of the preliminary hearing with a request for indictment - Art. 417 and 419 cpp

After service of the notice of conclusion of the investigations, the prosecutor, if he intends to support the accusation in the trial, files the request for indictment before the Judge of the preliminary hearing. This service gives notice to the defendant, his lawyer and the offended person of the day, time and place of the preliminary hearing, together with the request for indictment.

The request of the public prosecutor for indictment contains, among other things, the generality of the accused, of the injured person, the clear and precise statement of the facts that is imputed, the indication of the sources of evidence against the investigated, the date and the signature of the judge.

Decree for bringing the case to the court  - Art. 424 and 429 cpp

The judge of the preliminary hearing is required to assess the validity of the accusatory thesis. After the discussion of the parties, it deliberates by pronouncing sentence of dismisal of the penal proceedings or decree for court proceedings. The decree for continuing with the court proceedings is not motivated.

The decree is serviced to the defendant in default or not present at least 20 days before the date fixed for the ordinary trial.


It contains the personal details of the accused and of the other private parties, including the offended person, the fact statement in a clear and precise manner, the indication of the sources of evidence, the order for court proceedings of the competent judge, indication of the place, day and time of appearance, with the warning to the accused person that in default to appear will be judged in absentia, in addition to the date and signature of the judge and the assistant who assists him.


Decree of direct summons for trial - Art. 550 and 552 cpp

For some less serious crimes or such who are easier ascertained, the prosecutor has the powers to service the direct decree of summons to trial, without the need to go through the preliminary hearing filter. The summons must be served to the defendant, his lawyer and the injured person at least 60 days before the hearing.
The decree contains: the generality of the accused and of the other private parties, including the offended person, with the indication of the attorneys; the clear and precise statement of the alleged offense; the indication of the competent judge as well as of the place, day and time of the hearing with the warning to the defendant that if he does not appear he will be judged in absentia; the notice that the accused has the right to appoint a defense attorney of his trust and , failing to do so, will be assisted by a legal aid attorney; the notice that the accused can ask for abbreviated trial, deal or apply for an oblation, if there are the required prerequisites; the notice of the faculty to view and copy the file of the investigations at the public prosecutor's secretariat; the date and the signature of the public prosecutor.











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