The Staatsanwaltschaft or public prosecutor's offices are criminal justice
Criminal justice
Criminal Justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts...

 bodies attached to the judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 but separate from the courts in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. This kind of office also exists in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Macao
Mação is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 400.0 km² and a total population of 7,763 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of eight parishes, and is located in the Santarém District....

 and Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...



In Germany, the police have an obligation to investigate every single crime reported and subsequently send all investigations to the Staatsanwaltschaft. The public prosecutor, the Staatsanwalt (State Attorney), reviews the findings of the police and decides whether to indict the accused or halt the proceedings.

The prosecutor’s office has (in theory) the duty to investigate and pursue any matter in its jurisdiction as soon as it learns that a criminal offence may have been committed (Legalitätsprinzip). However there are some offences which require the victim to explicitly request prosecution (Antragsdelikt), other cases may be dropped due to "small guilt" or "non-importance" or the complainant may be told to prosecute on his own (common in defamation cases unless a VIP
Very Important Person
A Very Important Person, or VIP is a person who is accorded special privileges due to his or her status or importance.Examples include celebrities, heads of state/heads of government, major employers, high rollers, politicians, high-level corporate officers, wealthy individuals, or any other...

 is involved). Prosecutors are authorised to undertake investigations themselves or can request the police to do so and the police are obliged to carry out such requests. Moreover, prosecutors can order witnesses and expert witnesses to testify before them and can even ask an investigating judge (the Ermittlungsrichter) to interrogate witnesses or to examine the evidence. The investigating judge only reviews the legality of the interrogation or inspection and must comply with the prosecutor’s request as long as it is legal.

However, due to their superior manpower, training and experience, the police
is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In Nazi Germany during 1936, the Kripo became the Criminal Police Department for the entire Reich...

 conduct the vast majority of criminal investigations on their own. Cases are normally only turned over to the prosecutor’s office when they are considered to have been solved or all leads have gone cold. A prosecutor is usually only involved from the very beginning in homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

 or serious white-collar crime
White-collar crime
Within the field of criminology, white-collar crime has been defined by Edwin Sutherland as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation" . Sutherland was a proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, and believed that criminal behavior was...

 cases. Police also contact prosecutors at an early stage when significant publicity is expected or they need help gaining a judicial arrest or search warrant
Search warrant
A search warrant is a court order issued by a Magistrate, judge or Supreme Court Official that authorizes law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a person or location for evidence of a crime and to confiscate evidence if it is found....

 etc., or when the Ermittlungsrichter is to interrogate a witness.

In court, the approximately 5,200 public prosecutors in Germany are the prosecuting counsels. Unlike judges, public prosecutors are civil servants and therefore subject to the orders of their superiors.

In investigations and in court, the prosecution is supposed to be "objective" and "neutral". In German justice, the legal principle of the maxim "in dubio pro reo
In dubio pro reo
The principle of in dubio pro reo means that a defendant may not be convicted by the court when doubts about his or her guilt remain....

" (Latin: "benefit of the doubt") is deemed to apply to the court as well as the prosecution, so long as the evidence is not sufficient to judge the accused (see presumption of innocence
Presumption of innocence
The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. Application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognised in many...

). If potential evidence is not sufficiently substantive using the German Criminal Code Strafgesetzbuch
Strafgesetzbuch is the German name for Penal Code and is abbreviated to StGB.- History :In Germany the Strafgesetzbuch goes back to the Penal Code of the German Empire passed in the year 1871 which was largely identical to the Penal Code of the North German Confederation.This Reichsstrafgesetzbuch ...

 ("StGB") and further specific codes like the Controlled Substances Act, ("BtMG": Betäubungsmittelgesetz) their listed paragraphs and interpretations, the defendant is deemed to be not guilty. It is (or should be) common for the Staatsanwaltschaft to request the acquittal of the defendant if the evidence that came to light in the courtroom suggests he or she is innocent. Naturally the defense's opinion often differs from that of the prosecution in this matter.

The next investigating criminal justice body above the Staatsanwaltschaft is, according to the authorities of the separation of powers (Legislative, Exekutive and Judicative) of the German Grundgesetz, the Generalstaatsanwaltschaft.

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