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Right to information in criminal proceedings

Right to information in criminal proceedings

Suspects or persons accused of a criminal offence in an EU country must be informed of their procedural rights and the charges against them.


Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings.



The directive sets out minimum standards for all EU countries regardless of a person’s legal status, citizenship or nationality. It is designed to help prevent miscarriages of justice and reduce the number of appeals.


Suspects and accused persons must be informed promptly, either orally or in writing, of several procedural rights. These include:

  • access to a lawyer,
  • any entitlement to free legal advice,
  • the right to be informed about the accusation,
  • the right to interpretation and translation,
  • the right to remain silent.

Furthermore, arrested persons must receive promptly a Letter of Rights from the law enforcement authorities (i.e. the police or justice ministry, depending on the EU country), written in simple language, providing information on further rights including:

  • access to case documents,
  • the right to inform one person and to contact consular authorities,
  • the right to urgent medical assistance,
  • to know the maximum period, in hours and days, that they will be detained before being brought before a judicial authority,
  • whether they can challenge the lawfulness of the arrest.

Where a person has been arrested under a European Arrest Warrant, they must be provided with a specific Letter of Rights by the law enforcement authorities reflecting the different rights that apply in that situation.

In addition, suspects or accused persons must be provided promptly with information about the criminal act they are suspected of having committed and (at a later stage) with detailed information on the accusation. If they are arrested or detained they must also be informed about the reasons for this arrest or detention. They must also have access to the case materials so they can exercise their rights of defence.


The directive entered into force on 21 June 2012 and had to be transposed by EU countries by 2 June 2014.


The directive is the second step in a series of measures which together are designed to establish minimum rules for procedural rights across the EU in accordance with the 2009 Roadmap for procedural rights. It follows a 2010 directive on interpretation and translation rights.

For more information, see:



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2012/13/EU



OJ L 142, 1.6.2012, pp. 1-10

last update 02.03.2015