The judge is a member of the judiciary who performs his/her office independently, deciding only according to the Portuguese Constitution and the law.

The judge has two main functions at the trial:

Firstly, to preside over the trial. The judge is responsible for case management, ensuring that everything runs in an orderly and disciplined manner, that the evidence is given and the participants in the proceedings have the chance to examine and query it.

Secondly, to decide on the basis of the evidence whether the defendant should be convicted or acquitted and, if convicted, which penalty should be imposed. If there is a claim for compensation, the judge also has to decide on this claim. The judge is responsible for writing the judgment, reading it aloud in the courtroom on the scheduled date and explaining it to the participants in the proceedings, particularly to the defendant and to the victim, if he/she is present.

In cases involving the most serious crimes, the court comprises three judges. In these cases, one of the judges is designated as president and his/her duty is to preside over the trial, but the other two judges may also intervene. The decision is reached by a majority of the three judges.

The judge has a degree in law and has completed a post-graduate course specifically for judges at the Judicial Studies Centre (Centro de Estudos Judiciários).

If you think that a judge has not respected your rights, you should report this to the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (Conselho Superior da Magistratura).