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What are the differences between a lawsuit, a complaint in the police and a complaint in the court?

Civil Law Criminal law
What are the differences between a lawsuit, a complaint in the police and a complaint in the court?

It is common to hear people talk about lawsuits, complaints and complaints as synonyms when in fact, from a legal point of view, there are differences between them. In today's article we will explain them to you.

The three have in common that they are ways of starting a legal proceeding, but the main difference is the judicial way in which the action is to be taken:

- The lawsuit is a way of initiating legal proceedings in the civil or commercial courts.

- On the other hand, the complaint in the police and the complaint in the court are ways of initiating legal proceedings through criminal cases.

Complaint in the police

The complaint that you make in the police station, is based on the simple communication to the authorities, police or Public Prosecutor's Office, of the presence of facts that might be criminal. The complaint can be presented in writing or verbally to an authority agent or civil servant, as would be the case in a police station, who will record the specific account of the facts denounced. In these situations, the intervention of a lawyer and solicitor is not necessary.

Complaint in the court house

The complaint is a written document presented to the competent court where the facts that may be criminal are detailed, requesting the opening of criminal proceedings and where the complaint will be included in the same. In this case, the intervention of a lawyer and solicitor is required.

Here are the formal details that must be included in the complaint and are not required in the case of a denunciation:

- The identity of the complainant and the identity of the defendant.

- Description of the facts, place and date.

- The steps to be taken by the court, the request that the complaint be admitted for processing and that the requested steps be taken.

- The signature of the complainant.

With the complaint, the intention to be a prosecuting party in the proceedings is expressed, whereas with the denunciation, this condition is not acquired from the outset, unless at a later stage of the proceedings the person appears with a lawyer. The complaint is a way of collaborating with the Administration of Justice because anyone who sees the commission of a public offence is obliged to report it and there are even people who have a special duty to report it, such as health professionals, who by virtue of their position, profession or trade are aware of these facts.


The lawsuit is also the formal and written petition presented before the competent court (civil, commercial or labour) in which, based on certain facts that must be supported by legal grounds, the claim or claim formulated is motivated.

As an example, the civil lawsuit is the one that is filed in conflicts between individuals such as in the case of disputes between neighbours, insurance matters, inheritances, etc.

If you want to sue someone who wants to trample on your rights, do not hesitate to contact us.

Civil Law Criminal law

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