Dawn Raid Guide: Public prosecutor’s office

The detection and prosecution of criminal offences is the task of the public prosecutor usually supported by the police. The most frequent offences committed in business life which result in a dawn raid in particular include corruption offences for obtaining orders, competition offences such as the disclosure of business and trade secrets, property offences like breach of trust in the event of breaches of duty by members of the management or supervisory board or fraud, insolvency offences and breaches of foreign trade regulations, as well as tax and customs offences and the non-payment of social security contributions.

The public prosecutor’s office usually uses its investigative personnel, normally the police, for its investigations, but also the tax and customs investigation offices or the Office of Financial Control of Undeclared Employment (FKS) of the customs office. The threshold of suspicion for commencing investigations and carrying out searches is rather low: it is sufficient if specific indications of criminal conduct exist. In the event of such a suspicion, the public prosecutor’s office can – supported by its investigative personnel – carry out dawn raids on suspected persons, as well as at the premises of companies or uninvolved third parties. The objective is the investigation of presumed illegal circumstances by locating and securing evidence. 
Searches are unannounced and usually begin in the early morning, which is why they are referred to as “dawn raids”. The authorities search business premises, files, IT systems, archives and individual workstations as well as private homes.