Prosecution – Portugal

1. Crimes
2. Making a Police Statement
3. After Questioning

This section refers to situations in which migrant sex workers are subjected to criminal investigations:

If, for example, in a raid, police pick up a migrant sex worker who has no residence permit and/ or no work permit, they will initiate an enquiry against her in respect to immigration offences. Criminal proceedings will also be initiated if the woman has committed an offence/a crime in another matter. In these cases, the woman is an accused party.

Please note:
When we use the term “crime”, we mean infringements of penal law. When we use the term “offence”, we mean infringements of administrative law if there are sanctions attached to it.

1. Crimes

In Portugal, working as a prostitute in itself is not punishable, since this kind of work is simply not recognised.

2. Making a Police Statement

A. Right to Remain Silent

When a woman who is suspected of having committed a crime is interrogated by the police, she has the right to remain silent. Even in answering questions about other people, she need not say anything which might incriminate herself and her silence cannot be used against her.

B. Translator

If the accused is not Portuguese or is not a native speaker of Portuguese, she is entitled to the services of an interpreter during the interrogation. Should she not trust the interpreter who is provided, she is not entitled to refuse him/her and demand someone else, although she may ask for a substitution, give a well-founded explanation of her reasons for not trusting him, and see whether the judge will accept her request for a substitute.

C. Lawyer

The accused can also choose to answer questions only in the presence of her lawyer; she is entitled to demand his/her presence during the interrogation.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

D. Custody

The accused woman can be held in police custody. This may not last any longer than 48 hours.

E. Victims of Trafficking in Women

Criminal proceedings against the woman with regard to the crime she herself is accused of will not be closed.

3. After Questioning

A. Immigration Offences

The consequence of having allegedly committed an “administrative offence” is to be fined.

B. Other Crimes

If a woman has allegedly committed other crimes, the usual consequence is penal proceedings. This means that, after the police has investigated the events in question and considers them to constitute a crime, the case is passed on to a judge.
If a sentence is imposed, the woman may lose her right to residency. The consequence of a loss of the right to residence could be expulsion and this might include detention until deportation.
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