The rules by which all citizens must abide are laid down in criminal law. If someone does not comply with these rules, he or she commits a criminal offence according to the law. If there is a suspicion that a criminal offence is committed, the Public Prosecutions Department must prosecute the suspect and the person in question must appear before the court if the Public Prosecutions Department so decides. The police or specialised inspection services first perform a criminal investigation or judicial investigation for this purpose. The chain of criminal law, better known as the criminal law chain, describes the most commonly used proceedings in such a trajectory if someone must be put on trial for the crime he or she has committed.
We distinguish two branches in criminal law: the material criminal law, on the one hand (this is a description of punishable conduct and the punishments for such conduct) and, on the other hand, formal criminal law (these are procedures to enforce material criminal law). In our country, material criminal law falls under the Criminal Procedural Law (abbreviation: Sw), whereas the Prosecution Code arranges formal criminal law or prosecution.