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Historical profile from 1835, with which Georg Büchner was searched

The wanted poster is a public request for the arrest of a person to be arrested who is on the run or is in hiding. This public manhunt is part of the manhunt . In a figurative sense, the term “profile” is mainly used today for a brief, list-like presentation of the most important data on a person or on a topic.

Often, especially in the USA, a bounty for capturing what is sought is also mentioned.


Originally, a wanted poster was a letter of invitation from a remote court to the accused, which was inserted into the gate bolt. Later the meaning changed to the meaning of an arrest warrant , since the person to be arrested was then put in prison .

Issuing authorities

Today, a profile is understood to be a written request to all authorities, but especially to the police, to arrest a fugitive or hiding person and to hand them over to the law enforcement authority requesting them .

According to Section 131 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure , profiles can be issued by the judge and the public prosecutor . Without a prior arrest warrant , criminal prosecution is only permitted if an arrested person escapes from prison or otherwise evades guard. In this case, investigators from the public prosecutor's office are also authorized to issue the profile.

Profile of the Italian robbers Carmine Crocco , Ninco Nanco and Angelantonio Masini

According to Austrian law, profiles may only be issued by the court in criminal cases. In Switzerland, cantonal law roughly corresponds to the German procedure in this regard.


Wanted poster in the case of the police murder in Augsburg 2011

Profiles should exactly describe the persecuted persons and facts and indicate the persecuted act. They can be published through wanted posters in public places ( public announcement by posting; cf. § 134 StGB ), posting on the Internet and loudspeaker announcements as well as radio and television announcements, or they can simply be printed in wanted papers. The revocation ("profile completion") takes place in the same way as it was issued.

In addition to publication via posters, electronic methods such as E-FIT ( Electronic Facial Identification Technique via computer ) or PhotoFIT ( Photographic Facial Identification Technique ) have also been used since the spread of the Internet . If there is no photograph of what is wanted, a phantom image is used as an aid.


The former leader of the New York political club "Tammany Hall", William Tweed , who was wanted for corruption and a few other crimes , was caught in Spain after fleeing the USA. One of the caricatures of the cartoonist Thomas Nast published in the US American weekly newspaper Harper's Weekly served as a profile , which had previously contributed significantly to his downfall.


Web links

Commons : Wanted posters  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Profile  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden 7 and dtv-lex. Vol. 17