Quick context summary:

  • I've been with my fiancée for years. Although we call ourselves as such, we are not legally married nor recognised as a couple.
  • We're living around 500 kilometres/311 miles away from each other, but we always call each other on Skype every week-end.
  • She's suffering heavy physical disability, which means she's sitting in a wheelchair and can't move much. Travelling requires a special car, as well as caregivers (or her parents) to provide cares when needed.
  • In France, apart from yourself, only a family member (or your legal partner) can fill a complaint about physical or verbal harassment. If you're a friend or an acquaintance, you can't do anything.
  • In France, if you're witnessing someone being in a dangerous situation (e.g. someone's getting mugged in an alley for example), you need to do what you can to help without putting yourself in danger (such as calling for help, or fighting if you believe you can save them). Otherwise, you will be considered an accomplice.


In-depth story:

My fiancée's father is an alcohol and drug addict. More than once, he pretended that he would get cured, when he actually didn't follow the instructions.

When he's sober, he's quite calm (almost a decent man). But most of the time, he's drunk or drugged up (or both simultaneously). When he is, he would harass my fiancée and his wife. It's mostly verbal harassment (calling them by names, insulting them, telling them how useless their effort is), although sometime he would physically harass my fiancée too (although not sexually, but only her because she's stuck in a wheelchair). Once in a while (approximately once per month), she would call me on Skype, crying, morally broken, desperate. Sometime, I could hear him during our call session too.

My fiancée's mother called the police once, but all they did was keep him a few hours before releasing him because he wasn't much of a trouble. Then he kept doing what he's been doing all this time again. They didn't even bother meeting with my fiancée, despite being one of the 2 victims.

Now, my fiancée has been thinking about filling a complaint more than once. However, because of her heavy physical disability, she can't go to the police station herself. Her mother isn't motivated enough to do so (I don't know why, maybe she ain't got the time; plus the father would stop them), and since they're living in the middle of nowhere, nobody can help them.

When I told my law teacher about it, he told me I had to help her. Although I'm her fiancé, I can't fill a complaint for her either, because we're not legally recognised as a couple. Either she or her mother has to go to the police station, but:

  • She can't travel by herself.
  • Her mother can't leave her alone at home like that either.

Right now, I'm a witness of what's happening, but so far there's nothing I was able to do to help them except looking for information (which isn't helpful).

Am I an accomplice if I don't actually try to help?

  • 1
    Not legal advice: "Save" is a result, which isn't entirely within your control. What matters are intent and action.
    – Peter
    Jul 28, 2018 at 22:00
  • Got it. I will rephrase my last question.
    – Clockwork
    Jul 29, 2018 at 9:18
  • 2
    I am surprised by this. While you cannot file a complaint on behalf of someone else (porter plainte), you can alert about a situation (dénonciation/révelation d'un fait délictueux). Anyone can do that and the prosecutor (procureur de la République) assesses the case.
    – WoJ
    Mar 4, 2022 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


You are 500km away and you neither intend to do her harm, nor are you personally doing her harm. You are not an accomplice by any means. You may, appropriately, feel a moral obligation to do as much as you can to help, but not doing everything that you wish you could does not make you an accomplice.

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