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What do I do if I've been detained in Russia? What are my rights?

If you’re a foreigner in Russia and law enforcement officers have detained you, it’s very hard not to lose your head. However, try to find out what rights you have as a suspect and how not to make it worse. Our article will help you with it.


Here are some of them:

A suspect is entitled to:
• Refuse to testify, or testify in one's native language;
• Use an interpreter’s services;
• Hire a lawyer or use the help of a free defender at the state’s expense; use the services (including oral legal consultation) of a lawyer alone with him or her even before the first interrogation;
• Be aware of what you are suspected of;
• Provide evidence; appeal against the investigator, inquirer, or judge’s actions;
• Defend yourself in other ways not prohibited by law.

Given these rights, a foreign national may not say anything about themself and their relatives and demand an interpreter and a lawyer.

What may happen after detention?

According to Russian law, a person can be detained by order for up to 48 hours.

After 48 hours, the person must be released, provided that during this period the court hasn't decided to send the person to pretrial confinement.

It may also happen that the investigator will take the person to court within 48 hours, where the judge will decide where the suspect is to be the next two months - for the period of the pretrial investigation.

There are two options here:

The first one is at home at the residential address in Russia under a written undertaking not to leave the city or under house arrest.

The second option is in a pretrial detention center in custody.

The grounds for taking into custody are evidence presented by the investigator to the court that a person can, being at large:
➡ hide from the investigation;
➡ continue to engage in criminal activity;
➡ put pressure on witnesses.

If any of these grounds exists, the court may decide to place the suspect in a pre-trial detention center for the next two months.

Procedure for bringing criminal charges against a person in Russia

A person may become convicted of a criminal offence in Russia in two stages.

1. Pretrial investigation conducted by the investigator. As part of the pretrial investigation, the investigator collects all evidence and, upon completion, hands the case over to court with an indictment.

The period of pretrial investigation usually ranges from 6 to 12 months (however, for especially serious crimes, it can last up to 18 months).

2. Consideration of the case in court. At this stage, the court only examines the evidence presented by the investigation and issues a verdict. It must be said here that the vast majority of verdicts in Russia are guilty.

If there is not enough evidence at the pretrial investigation, the case simply does not reach the court.

The period during which the case is considered by the court can be from 3 months to several years. It depends on the number of sheets in the criminal case file, the number of witnesses and the defendant’s position.

Summing up, we would like to advise hiring an English-speaking lawyer immediately after being arrested, to be protected from the very beginning of the criminal prosecution:
Tel: +7 909 961-19-09
Visit us: Moscow, Zubovskiy bulvar, building 4/1, office 308
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