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Defendant is under German law in criminal cases the accused against which the opening of the main proceedings pursuant to § 203 Code of Criminal Procedure is adopted ( § 157 Code of Criminal Procedure) or against a penal order has been issued (but not if it was merely pending).

This means that a judge in the interim proceedings considers a suspect to be so suspicious that he considers a conviction in the main proceedings to be likely. The preliminary investigation and the interim proceedings are completed at this point and the main proceedings begin.

The accused has the right to the assistance of a defense attorney at any time ( § 137 StPO).

In the main hearing, the legal representative , the spouse or the life partner can also assist the accused ( Section 149 StPO). They can be heard on request. In the preliminary proceedings, the admission of such advisers is subject to the judges' discretion .

Civil litigation

In civil proceedings one speaks of defendants .