Defendants (criminal proceedings)

Minor offences and the fines and penalties they give rise to are dealt with by the administrative authorities.

No fine or penalty may be imposed without the defendant first having been heard. In the case of offences where the fine is not more than 50% of €3740.98 and €44,891.81, the fine may be paid voluntarily at any stage of the procedure prior to judgment. An appeal may be made against any decision by the administrative authority imposing a fine. The court may order the procedure to be closed, find the defendant not guilty, or maintain or amend the penalty. An appeal against that court’s decision may be made to the Appeal Court (Tribunal da Relação).

Who deals with traffic offences?

Traffic offences are dealt with by the National Highways Authority (Autoridade Nacional Rodoviária).

What is the procedure?

If an official or official agent witnesses a traffic offence, he makes a written report of the event.

The facts witnessed by the official and set out in the written report are regarded as true until proved otherwise.

After the report is drawn up the defendant must be notified of (1) the facts amounting to the offence, (2) the law that has been broken, (3) the applicable penalties, (4) the address to which any defence should be sent and the time limit allowed, and (5) any other relevant information.

The defendant has 15 days from the date of notification in which to submit his defence in writing.

The decision imposing the fine or penalty must include: (1) the identity of the offender, (2) a short description of the facts, evidence and other significant circumstances, (3) a statement of the regulations which have been broken, the fine or penalty and the costs. The notice must also state that an appeal can be made, and how to make it.

What penalties are possible?

The penalties include fines, a driving ban or cancellation of the driving licence.

Are such offences pursued against nationals of other Member States?

Yes. Offences committed within Portugal can be punished regardless of the nationality of the offender.

Can I appeal?

By written appeal addressed to the Court to which the authority in question is answerable (see above).

Last update: 15/02/2012

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