25 Jan 2017

Forms of legal complaint in Italy: differences between Denuncia, Querela and Esposto:

In this article we are focusing on the main differences between the various types of legal claim, which is possible to exercise before a Court in case of litigation. It is fundamental although, before starting the analysis of the topic, to point out that in Italy we distinguish offences can be prosecuted ex officio from those that can be are prosecuted if a complaint is lodged.

Offences that are prosecutable ex officio are those which, due to their particular seriousness – such as murder – inevitably end up in court proceedings after the authorities are made aware of them through a denuncia.

For offences that can be prosecuted upon complaint, the law gives to the injured party the freedom to decide whether to ask the authorities, through querela, to prosecute or not. This act of complain usually concerns less serious crimes like injuries or threats.


Denuncia is the act by which a person announces to the authority that an offence prosecutable ex officio has been committed. The trial can also start in the absence of any injured party.

This consists only of demonstrating the actual facts of what happened, but does not express any intention of pursuing the offender.

The willingness to go for prosecution is indeed a matter of choice and in fact a legal proceeding can be submitted at any time.

Due to the seriousness of the offences involved, once the denuncia is filed it cannot be withdrawn and the authorities will continue their investigations.

The reported facts or the subject of the denuncia must always be truthful. Otherwise, the crime of slander could apply.

The denuncia is obligatory, in the following cases:

* when you become aware of terrorist acts and attacks;

* when you find explosive material;

* when you lose or suffer the theft of a weapon;

* when you realize that you are handling counterfeit money or money from a suspicious origin.

The Querela:

The querela is a legal complaint which differs from denuncia. In this case, we are facing a situation in which those who have suffered an offence – not prosecutable ex officio – alert the authorities (either through a lawyer or directly) and request the punishment of the alleged offender. Querela is hence a necessary condition of admissibility required for prosecution.

Crimes involved in these cases do not represent a serious threat to social peace.

When the act of complaint is made through a lawyer, it must be signed and authenticated and it can also be sent by registered mail.

It must contain:

* a description of the facts of the crime;

* a declaration of intent to proceed against the alleged offender;

* all possible information about the aforementioned offender;

* the evidence you may wish to produce.

The querela must be submitted, under penalty of forfeiture, within three months from the day when the offense allegedly occurred; this period is six months if the offence concerns crimes against sexual freedom or sexual acts with an underage person.

Whe the querela has not yet been presented, it is possible to drop charges. Conversely, when the querela has been presented, charges can be dropped, but through the so-called remissione.


Esposto may occur when there is a request to the Security Authorities to take action in order to settle a dispute between private citizens and prevent it from becoming a potential crime.

The officer of the Security Authorities to which the complaint is filed shall summon the parties and try to reach a peaceful settlement of the dispute. He will advise the alleged perpetrator and inform him/her of the risks they may face if they continue with their conducts.

Please do not hesitate to contact KMLegalnet for any information, or send an email to info@kentonmiles.net .

We will offer you legal assistance and guidance.

Our English-speaking Italian team can assist with both local and foreign clients. We have an international network of experienced and skilled lawyers, from different backgrounds and different legal systems, all able to provide you with the help you need.

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