Best Lawyers for Criminal Defense in France

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Julien Andrez
Lawyer
Julien Andrez was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Julien Andrez

Arago
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Thomas Baudesson
Lawyer
Thomas Baudesson was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Thomas Baudesson

Clifford Chance LLC
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Product Liability Litigation
Frédérique Baulieu
Lawyer
Frédérique Baulieu was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Frédérique Baulieu

Cabinet Henri Leclerc & Associés SCP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Michel Beaussier
Lawyer
Michel Beaussier was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Michel Beaussier

Coat Haut de Sigy
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Fabien Blondelot
Lawyer
Fabien Blondelot was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Fabien Blondelot

FIDAL
  • Location:
    Troyes, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Olivier Bluche
Lawyer
Olivier Bluche was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Olivier Bluche

Reinhart Marville Torre
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Labor and Employment Law Litigation Criminal Defense
Delphine Boesel
Lawyer
Delphine Boesel was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Delphine Boesel

Delphine Boesel
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Cyril Bonan
Lawyer
Cyril Bonan was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Cyril Bonan

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Corporate Law Criminal Defense Litigation Mergers and Acquisitions Law
Stephane Bonifassi
Lawyer
Stephane Bonifassi was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Stephane Bonifassi

Bonifassi Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Florian Bouaziz
Lawyer
Florian Bouaziz was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Florian Bouaziz

Bredin Prat
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Litigation
Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi
Lawyer
Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi

Paul Hastings LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Litigation Regulatory Practice
Emmanuel Brochier
Lawyer
Emmanuel Brochier was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Emmanuel Brochier

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Arbitration and Mediation Bet-the-Company Litigation Securities Law Litigation Corporate Law Mergers and Acquisitions Law
Nicolas Cassart
Lawyer
Nicolas Cassart was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Nicolas Cassart

Farthouat Asselineau & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Claudia Chemarin
Lawyer
Claudia Chemarin was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Claudia Chemarin

Chemarin & Limbour
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Denis Chemla
Lawyer
Denis Chemla was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Denis Chemla

Allen & Overy LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Arbitration and Mediation Criminal Defense Aviation Law Litigation
Mauricia Courrégé
Lawyer
Mauricia Courrégé was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Mauricia Courrégé

Courrégé-Foreman
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense Aviation Law Insolvency and Reorganization Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jean-Michel Darrois
Lawyer
Jean-Michel Darrois was awarded 2020 "Lawyer of the Year" in Elasticsearch.PracticeArea

Jean-Michel Darrois

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Mergers and Acquisitions Law Criminal Defense Bet-the-Company Litigation Corporate Law Securities Law Litigation Technology Law
Laurent De Caunes
Lawyer
Laurent De Caunes was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Laurent De Caunes

DE CAUNES - FORGET AVOCATS
  • Location:
    Toulouse , France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Xavier Delassault
Lawyer
Xavier Delassault was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Xavier Delassault

FIDAL
  • Location:
    Lille, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Denis Delcourt-Poudenx
Lawyer
Denis Delcourt-Poudenx was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Denis Delcourt-Poudenx

Cabinet DDP Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Éric Dezeuze
Lawyer
Éric Dezeuze was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Éric Dezeuze

Bredin Prat
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Litigation
Rémy Douarre
Lawyer
Rémy Douarre was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Rémy Douarre

Tuffal-Nerson Douarre & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt
Lawyer
Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt

Temime
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Éric Dupond-Moretti
Lawyer
Éric Dupond-Moretti was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Éric Dupond-Moretti

Dupond-Moretti & Vey
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
François Esclatine
Lawyer
François Esclatine was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

François Esclatine

Veil Jourde
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Simon Foreman
Lawyer
Simon Foreman was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Simon Foreman

Courrégé-Foreman
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Aviation Law Criminal Defense
Pascal Garbarini
Lawyer
Pascal Garbarini was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Pascal Garbarini

Pascal Garbarini
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Aurelia Grignon
Lawyer
Aurelia Grignon was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Aurelia Grignon

Soulez Larivière & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Aviation Law Criminal Defense
Alexis Gublin
Lawyer
Alexis Gublin was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Alexis Gublin

Delecroix Gublin
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Olivier Gutkès
Lawyer
Olivier Gutkès was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Olivier Gutkès

Gutkès Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Kami Haeri
Lawyer
Kami Haeri was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Kami Haeri

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Nicolas Huc-Morel
Lawyer
Nicolas Huc-Morel was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Nicolas Huc-Morel

Huc-Morel Labrousse Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Christophe Ingrain
Lawyer
Christophe Ingrain was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Christophe Ingrain

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Paul-Albert Iweins
Lawyer
Paul-Albert Iweins was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Paul-Albert Iweins

Taylor Wessing LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Litigation
Georges Kiejman
Lawyer
Georges Kiejman was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Georges Kiejman

Kiejman & Marembert
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jacqueline Laffont
Lawyer
Jacqueline Laffont was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Jacqueline Laffont

HAÏK & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Céline Lasek
Lawyer
Céline Lasek was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Céline Lasek

Lasek Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Stéphane Lataste
Lawyer
Stéphane Lataste was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Stéphane Lataste

Chatain & associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Labor and Employment Law
Dominique Lefort
Lawyer
Dominique Lefort was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Dominique Lefort

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense Banking and Finance Law
Clotilde Lepetit
Lawyer
Clotilde Lepetit was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Clotilde Lepetit

7 BAC Cabinet D'avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Florent Loyseau De Grandmaison
Lawyer
Florent Loyseau De Grandmaison was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Florent Loyseau De Grandmaison

LDG Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Antonin Lévy
Lawyer
Antonin Lévy was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Antonin Lévy

Antonin Lévy & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Patrick Maisonneuve
Lawyer
Patrick Maisonneuve was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Patrick Maisonneuve

Cabinet Maisonneuve
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Thierry Marembert
Lawyer
Thierry Marembert was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Thierry Marembert

Kiejman & Marembert
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Emmanuel Marsigny
Lawyer
Emmanuel Marsigny was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Emmanuel Marsigny

Marsigny Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jean-Pierre Martel
Lawyer
Jean-Pierre Martel was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Jean-Pierre Martel

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Arbitration and Mediation Bet-the-Company Litigation Corporate Law Investment Criminal Defense Mergers and Acquisitions Law Litigation
Jonathan Mattout
Lawyer
Jonathan Mattout was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Jonathan Mattout

  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Regulatory Practice Criminal Defense Corporate Governance & Compliance Practice
Astrid Mignon Colombet
Lawyer
Astrid Mignon Colombet was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Astrid Mignon Colombet

Soulez Larivière & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Litigation Aviation Law
Julia Minkowski
Lawyer
Julia Minkowski was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Julia Minkowski

Temime
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Corporate Governance & Compliance Practice Criminal Defense
Vincent Nioré
Lawyer
Vincent Nioré was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Vincent Nioré

Nioré Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jean-Pierre Picca
Lawyer
Jean-Pierre Picca was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Jean-Pierre Picca

  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Michel Pitron
Lawyer
Michel Pitron was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Michel Pitron

Gide Loyrette Nouel AARPI
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Bruno Quentin
Lawyer
Bruno Quentin was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Bruno Quentin

Gide Loyrette Nouel AARPI
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Banking and Finance Law Criminal Defense
Anne-Florence Raducault
Lawyer
Anne-Florence Raducault was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Anne-Florence Raducault

Bird & Bird AARPI
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jean Reinhart
Lawyer
Jean Reinhart was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Jean Reinhart

Reinhart Marville Torre
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Nathalie Roret
Lawyer
Nathalie Roret was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Nathalie Roret

Farthouat Avocats
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Emmanuel Rosenfeld
Lawyer
Emmanuel Rosenfeld was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Emmanuel Rosenfeld

Veil Jourde
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense Arbitration and Mediation
Christian Saint-Palais
Lawyer
Christian Saint-Palais was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Christian Saint-Palais

Leborgne Saint-Palais
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Sophie Scemla
Lawyer
Sophie Scemla was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Sophie Scemla

Eversheds Sutherland LLP
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Clarisse Serre
Lawyer
Clarisse Serre was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Clarisse Serre

Serre Boulebsol
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Daniel Soulez Larivière
Lawyer
Daniel Soulez Larivière was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Daniel Soulez Larivière

Soulez Larivière & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Aviation Law Criminal Defense
Patrice Spinosi
Lawyer
Patrice Spinosi was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Patrice Spinosi

Spinosi & Sureau
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Pierre-Olivier Sur
Lawyer
Pierre-Olivier Sur was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Pierre-Olivier Sur

Fischer, Tandeau de Marsac, Sur & Associés
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Francis Szpiner
Lawyer
Francis Szpiner was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Francis Szpiner

Szpiner Toby Ayela Semerdjian
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Hervé Temime
Lawyer
Hervé Temime was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Hervé Temime

Temime
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Caroline Toby
Lawyer
Caroline Toby was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Caroline Toby

Szpiner Toby Ayela Semerdjian
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Jean Veil
Lawyer
Jean Veil was awarded 2020 "Lawyer of the Year" in Elasticsearch.PracticeArea

Jean Veil

Veil Jourde
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Corporate Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Litigation Criminal Defense
Pierre-Francois Veil
Lawyer
Pierre-Francois Veil was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Pierre-Francois Veil

Veil Jourde
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Arnaud de Barthès de Montfort
Lawyer
Arnaud de Barthès de Montfort was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Arnaud de Barthès de Montfort

Artemont
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Félix de Belloy
Lawyer
Félix de Belloy was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Félix de Belloy

Boken
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Benoît de Cadenet
Lawyer
Benoît de Cadenet was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Benoît de Cadenet

FIDAL
  • Location:
    Brest, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Stéphane de Navacelle
Lawyer
Stéphane de Navacelle was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Stéphane de Navacelle

Navacelle
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation Criminal Defense
Benjamin van Gaver
Lawyer
Benjamin van Gaver was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Benjamin van Gaver

August Debouzy
  • Location:
    Paris, France
  • Practice Areas:
    Franchise Law Criminal Defense

  • Location:
  • Practice Areas:

Practice Area Definition

Criminal Defense Definition

Criminal law may nowadays interfere with any human activities, and both individuals and companies may be concerned by this evolution.

In France, criminal offences are not only comprised in the criminal code, but also in the commerce code, labor code, environmental code, town planning code, intellectual property code, etc.

Criminal lawyers therefore play their parts in various fields and at different stages: not only during the criminal trial itself and not only during the investigations and the pre-trial stage, but also before any legal proceedings, as a counsel and in order to prevent the legal risks for their clients.

According to the French criminal procedural code, the pre-trial stage may result in a preliminary or judicial investigation, the rules applying to each type of investigation being different.

Furthermore, in a preliminary investigation, only one judge will be both in charge of the investigation at the pre-trial stage and of carrying out prosecution during the trial itself, when the judge in charge of the judicial investigation will never interfere with the trial.

One of the specificities of the French criminal procedure is indeed the hybrid status of the “Public Prosecutor” (judges in charge of the preliminary investigations), which rises numerous issues since these judges are not considered by the European Court of Human Rights to be as independent and impartial as others, regarding in particular the executive power.

And if recent reforms tend to strengthen the rights of litigants, the need of a criminal lawyer remains crucial, especially when one’s know that preliminary investigations constitute the overwhelming majority of criminal proceedings, and that the damage of one company’s image is compounded by the slowness of French legal proceedings.

Within this context, it is important to highlight that since the 1srt of April 2010, French lawyers have another tool that they can use to ensure their clients’ defense: it is indeed possible to question the validity of any legal provisions regarding French constitutional standards, which might lead to the repeal of the unconstitutional provisions.

One also has to keep in mind that if pre-trial and trial stage are the original core of criminal defense, the many legal risks that companies may face require nowadays for criminal lawyers to intervene within the firm before criminal risks appears within the firm: the criminal lawyer’s role will therefore be to raise awareness within the client’s company, but also to organize internal audits in order to identify and to prevent legal risks from happening.

In the specific area of “compliance”, lawyers will have to work with both French professional and legal provisions but also with foreign legislation, including international standards.

Both the diversity and the complexity of criminal law makes it all the more necessary to select a lawyer regarding his ability, expertise and experience to apprehend criminal law in its entirety and to use each possible legal tool in favor of his client’s best advice and defense.

____________________________________________________________________________________

La matière pénale s’est désormais immiscée dans l’ensemble des activités humaines. Et tant les individus, que les sociétés, françaises ou étrangères, sont susceptibles d’être concernés par cette évolution.

Ainsi, les infractions ne se retrouvent plus seulement dans le code pénal, mais également dans le code de commerce, le code du travail, le code de l’environnement, le code de l’urbanisme, le code de la propriété intellectuelle, etc.

L’avocat pénaliste a donc vocation à intervenir sur des champs d’action distincts et à des stades différents : non plus seulement au cours de l’audience et non plus seulement durant la phase préparatoire du procès pénal mais également, avant toute poursuite, en qualité de conseil à fin de prévention du risque.

Aux termes du code de procédure pénale français, la phase préparatoire du procès pénal peut se traduire par une enquête ou une information judiciaire, dont les règles sont sensiblement différentes.

Plus précisément, dans le cadre d’une enquête préliminaire, seul un magistrat (le procureur) sera en charge de l’enquête et représentera l’accusation lors du procès qui viendra éventuellement clôturer l’enquête, quand l’intervention du juge d’instruction est cantonnée à la phase préparatoire du procès pénal, soit l’information judiciaire.

L’une des spécificités de la procédure pénale française réside d’ailleurs dans ce statut hybride des magistrats du Parquet qui soulève des interrogations et des difficultés sur le terrain des garanties et des droits des justiciables, dès lors que les magistrats du Parquet ne sont pas considérés par la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme (CEDH) comme présentant des garanties d’indépendance et d’impartialité suffisantes vis-à-vis du pouvoir exécutif.

Et si les réformes récentes tendent à renforcer les droits des justiciables au stade de l’enquête, la défense de ses intérêts par un avocat spécialisé et expérimenté dès ce stade et même avant est capitale, quand on sait que les enquêtes concernent aujourd’hui l’écrasante majorité des procédures pénales, et que le préjudice d’image est, en France, décuplé par la lenteur des procédures judiciaires.

Dans ce contexte, il importe de relever de première part que l’avocat dispose depuis le 1er avril 2010 d’un nouvel outil pour assurer la défense de ses clients dans le cadre d’un procès : la question prioritaire de constitutionnalité permet en effet de contrôler la conformité des dispositions légales aux normes constitutionnelles, et peut conduire à l’abrogation des dispositions jugées inconstitutionnelles.

De seconde part, il importe d’insister sur le fait que si le procès pénal et la phase préparatoire du procès pénal sont les lieux privilégiés de l’exercice des droits de la défense, les risques auxquels sont exposées les sociétés supposent désormais que l’intervention de l’avocat pénaliste ait lieu en amont sur le terrain de la prévention des risques dans l’entreprise : le rôle de l’avocat est alors d’alerter les justiciables sur les risques pénaux encourus, mais également de diligenter des audits internes afin d’identifier et de prévenir ces risques au sein de l’entreprise.

Dans ce domaine du conseil, dit de la responsabilité sociale des entreprises, l’avocat sera confronté aux dispositions légales, règlementaires, ou professionnelles, françaises, mais également à des législations étrangères et aux standards internationaux.

La diversité et la complexité du droit pénal aujourd’hui rendent plus que jamais nécessaire le choix d’un avocat pénaliste en mesure de maitriser, au profit de son client, l’ensemble des dimensions du conseil et de la défense pénale et ce y compris en matière de compliance.

Criminal law may nowadays interfere with any human activities, and both individuals and companies may be concerned by this evolution.

In France, criminal offences are not only comprised in the criminal code, but also in the commerce code, labor code, environmental code, town planning code, intellectual property code, etc.

Criminal lawyers therefore play their parts in various fields and at different stages: not only during the criminal trial itself and not only during the investigations and the pre-trial stage, but also before any legal proceedings, as a counsel and in order to prevent the legal risks for their clients.

According to the French criminal procedural code, the pre-trial stage may result in a preliminary or judicial investigation, the rules applying to each type of investigation being different.

Furthermore, in a preliminary investigation, only one judge will be both in charge of the investigation at the pre-trial stage and of carrying out prosecution during the trial itself, when the judge in charge of the judicial investigation will never interfere with the trial.

One of the specificities of the French criminal procedure is indeed the hybrid status of the “Public Prosecutor” (judges in charge of the preliminary investigations), which rises numerous issues since these judges are not considered by the European Court of Human Rights to be as independent and impartial as others, regarding in particular the executive power.

And if recent reforms tend to strengthen the rights of litigants, the need of a criminal lawyer remains crucial, especially when one’s know that preliminary investigations constitute the overwhelming majority of criminal proceedings, and that the damage of one company’s image is compounded by the slowness of French legal proceedings.

Within this context, it is important to highlight that since the 1srt of April 2010, French lawyers have another tool that they can use to ensure their clients’ defense: it is indeed possible to question the validity of any legal provisions regarding French constitutional standards, which might lead to the repeal of the unconstitutional provisions.

One also has to keep in mind that if pre-trial and trial stage are the original core of criminal defense, the many legal risks that companies may face require nowadays for criminal lawyers to intervene within the firm before criminal risks appears within the firm: the criminal lawyer’s role will therefore be to raise awareness within the client’s company, but also to organize internal audits in order to identify and to prevent legal risks from happening.

In the specific area of “compliance”, lawyers will have to work with both French professional and legal provisions but also with foreign legislation, including international standards.

Both the diversity and the complexity of criminal law makes it all the more necessary to select a lawyer regarding his ability, expertise and experience to apprehend criminal law in its entirety and to use each possible legal tool in favor of his client’s best advice and defense.

____________________________________________________________________________________

La matière pénale s’est désormais immiscée dans l’ensemble des activités humaines. Et tant les individus, que les sociétés, françaises ou étrangères, sont susceptibles d’être concernés par cette évolution.

Ainsi, les infractions ne se retrouvent plus seulement dans le code pénal, mais également dans le code de commerce, le code du travail, le code de l’environnement, le code de l’urbanisme, le code de la propriété intellectuelle, etc.

L’avocat pénaliste a donc vocation à intervenir sur des champs d’action distincts et à des stades différents : non plus seulement au cours de l’audience et non plus seulement durant la phase préparatoire du procès pénal mais également, avant toute poursuite, en qualité de conseil à fin de prévention du risque.

Aux termes du code de procédure pénale français, la phase préparatoire du procès pénal peut se traduire par une enquête ou une information judiciaire, dont les règles sont sensiblement différentes.

Plus précisément, dans le cadre d’une enquête préliminaire, seul un magistrat (le procureur) sera en charge de l’enquête et représentera l’accusation lors du procès qui viendra éventuellement clôturer l’enquête, quand l’intervention du juge d’instruction est cantonnée à la phase préparatoire du procès pénal, soit l’information judiciaire.

L’une des spécificités de la procédure pénale française réside d’ailleurs dans ce statut hybride des magistrats du Parquet qui soulève des interrogations et des difficultés sur le terrain des garanties et des droits des justiciables, dès lors que les magistrats du Parquet ne sont pas considérés par la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme (CEDH) comme présentant des garanties d’indépendance et d’impartialité suffisantes vis-à-vis du pouvoir exécutif.

Et si les réformes récentes tendent à renforcer les droits des justiciables au stade de l’enquête, la défense de ses intérêts par un avocat spécialisé et expérimenté dès ce stade et même avant est capitale, quand on sait que les enquêtes concernent aujourd’hui l’écrasante majorité des procédures pénales, et que le préjudice d’image est, en France, décuplé par la lenteur des procédures judiciaires.

Dans ce contexte, il importe de relever de première part que l’avocat dispose depuis le 1er avril 2010 d’un nouvel outil pour assurer la défense de ses clients dans le cadre d’un procès : la question prioritaire de constitutionnalité permet en effet de contrôler la conformité des dispositions légales aux normes constitutionnelles, et peut conduire à l’abrogation des dispositions jugées inconstitutionnelles.

De seconde part, il importe d’insister sur le fait que si le procès pénal et la phase préparatoire du procès pénal sont les lieux privilégiés de l’exercice des droits de la défense, les risques auxquels sont exposées les sociétés supposent désormais que l’intervention de l’avocat pénaliste ait lieu en amont sur le terrain de la prévention des risques dans l’entreprise : le rôle de l’avocat est alors d’alerter les justiciables sur les risques pénaux encourus, mais également de diligenter des audits internes afin d’identifier et de prévenir ces risques au sein de l’entreprise.

Dans ce domaine du conseil, dit de la responsabilité sociale des entreprises, l’avocat sera confronté aux dispositions légales, règlementaires, ou professionnelles, françaises, mais également à des législations étrangères et aux standards internationaux.

La diversité et la complexité du droit pénal aujourd’hui rendent plus que jamais nécessaire le choix d’un avocat pénaliste en mesure de maitriser, au profit de son client, l’ensemble des dimensions du conseil et de la défense pénale et ce y compris en matière de compliance.