In Swiss law, the maximum duration of preventive detention is 3 months. But at the end of the three months, a judge can extend the preventive detention for another three months and so on from three months to three months. The law does not provide for a maximum limit for preventive detention. The only limit is that of the proportionality of the preventive detention in relation to the sentence that may actually be imposed on the defendant at the end of the proceedings.
It is possible to place someone in pre-trial detention only under two cumulative conditions. First, there must be a strong suspicion that a crime has been committed. Then, one or more of the following three risks must be realized:
- Flight risk: this is the risk that the defendant will flee if released from custody and will not appear for further management summonses or trial. This risk will almost automatically apply to foreign defendants who do not have sufficient ties to Switzerland;
- Risk of collusion: This is the risk that the accused will suppress evidence, alter it or influence witnesses. This risk is almost always retained in the early stages of the investigation depending on the investigative measures that still need to be carried out: But the more the investigation progresses the more this risk fades;
- Recidivism Risk: This is the risk that the defendant will commit other felonies or serious offenses if released;
Therefore, as soon as the risk justifying the preventive detention disappears, the release of the accused must be ordered.
With respect to flight risk, bail, house arrest and electronic monitoring are often the best ways to reduce it. With regard to the risk of collusion, good cooperation in the investigation will reduce it. This will allow the prosecution authorities to quickly administer the main evidence, thereby eliminating the risk of collusion. The risk of recidivism can be reduced by creating an environment that prevents the commission of new offences. These include getting a job, a perimeter ban, psychiatric monitoring, or substance use abstinence checks.