Schöffen is a term for women and men who have been appointed as honorary judges by an election. They are used in criminal proceedings before the district and regional courts.

A list of proposals will be drawn up by the political community for the election for the election, in which all groups of the population according to sex, age, occupation and social status are to be adequately taken into account. This list of proposals is discussed and adopted by the municipal council. Interested citizens can also register with your city or municipality to be included in the list of proposals. The election to the schöffen is carried out by an election committee chaired by the chairman of the Schöffengericht for a period of 4 years. Re-election for a further term of office of 4 years is possible.

In principle, any German citizen can become a Schöffe. Excluded from this are:

  • persons who are under 25 years of age at the beginning of the term of office or who will be 70 years of age during the term of office,
  • Persons who do not have been living in the municipality for one year at the time the list of proposals is drawn up,
  • persons who are professionally connected with the judiciary, such as prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, prison officers, etc.,
  • persons who have been sentenced to more than 6 months' imprisonment for an offence or who, as a result of a judgment, do not have the capacity to be in carnarising public office;
  • Persons under investigation for an offence which may result in the loss of the capacity to hold public office shall be subject to
  • Persons who, as a result of a court order, are limited in the order for their assets,
  • Persons who are not eligible for the office because of mental or physical infirmities.

This list is not exhaustive, further exceptions can be found in Section 34 of the Judicial Constitution Act.

In the district courts, the judges participate in the so-called schöffengerichten. These are responsible for the area of medium-level crime with a penalty expectation of up to four years and are usually staffed by a professional judge and two judges. The cases of more serious crime are dealt with in the large criminal chambers of the regional courts. These are staffed by two or three professional judges and two judges.

In the exercise of their duties, schöffen are independent and subject only to the law. Like professional judges, they are obliged to be objective and impartial. The Schöffen, as representatives of the people, should contribute to the survival of public confidence in the judiciary through the exercise of their voluntary work. It is also of great importance that Schöffen contribute their life experience and expertise to the course of a negotiation.

Schöffen exercise the honorary judgeship in the same way as a professional judge. Professional judges and judges jointly decide on both the question of guilt and the sentence. In consultation and voting, the judges have the same voting rights as the professional judges and are supposed to decide unbiasedly according to their impression, which they win during the main hearing. For this reason, unlike the professional judges, they have no knowledge of the content of the file in each case.

As a rule, the judges are called up to meetings 12 times a year. The loss of earnings incurred as well as the travel expenses will be reimbursed. In addition, Schöffen receive meeting fees for their voluntary work in accordance with the Law on compensation for honorary judges.

Related Links

  • Bundesverband ehrenamtlicher Richterinnen und Richter

Related Links

  • Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz

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