Arrested in Hungary (Budapest)

If somebody is taken into custody by the Hungarian police, he must be brought before a judge within 72 hours who would decide in the question of ordering the pre-trial arrest for 30 days. There are other lighter forms of coercive measures (such as house arrest, home curfew or bail) You can read more about this at these links:

Critical points in the rules and practice of the pre-trial detention

Pre-trial detention and alternatives to it

Present regulation of arrest for extradition

The arrested person has the right to inform one person (relative or friend) about being arrested. In practice it means that a detective would call the telephone number given by arrested and giving basic (literally basic) informations.

This phonecall shall be denied in case it would jeopardise the goals of the investigation.

In case of a foreign national also the competent consulate shall be informed about custody and arrest.

Lawyer, legal aid lawyer and translator

According to our Criminal Code it is compulsory that a defense attorney (lawyer) take part in the procedure if the suspect does not speak Hungarian. This sound very nice and fair, however in practice it does not automatically implicate enough guarantee for the fairness of the process.

Why is that?

  1. The requirement of compulsory (or ex officio) attorneys does not mean that they must be present at the crucial first interview (interrogation) of the suspect. It is enough if the police informs them in time about the planned interview so that the attorney has the possibility to be present. If the defense attorney decide not to be present it does not make the result of the police interview null and void.
  2. Legal aid attorneys (who are appointed by the police and paid by the government) are usually under-motivated and opt for not going to the interview especially during the weekend or in the night.
  3. As legal aid lawyers are paid by the government, this raises very serious concerns of conflict of interests.
  4. Very often legal aid lawyers don’t speak the language of the suspect. They can communicate with the help of the translator appointed and paid by the police. This raises concerns of loyalty too.

You can read more about this problems in English at this link

Besides legal aid attorneys either the suspect or close relatives may assign a defense attorney chosen by them (or with the help of the consulate). In this case they have to bear the lawyer’s costs. The state only pays (more precisely pays in advance) legal aid lawyers.

The right to remain silent

The first important decision to make is whether to make a statement of to remain silent at the police interview (which must take place right after being taken into custody.) At the beginning of the police interview the police must tell what is the suspect accused with and must inform about his rights and obligations in the criminal process.

To be continued soon…

My criminal law articles

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