This Factsheet describe your rights during the trial.
During criminal proceedings you are entitled to:
Preliminary discussion of the charge
If a charge is filed, it will be examined by the presiding judge who will consider whether a preliminary discussion is required, or whether a trial can be ordered.
The outcome of the preliminary discussion of the charge may be a decision of the court on:
Where will the trial be held?
Depending on the seriousness of the crime the trial of first instance will be held before the district or regional court with jurisdiction in the place where the crime was committed, or the domicile of the accused, or the place where the crime was discovered.
Will the trial be in public?
Yes, the trial is held in public. However the public may be excluded in some cases.
Who will decide the case?
A panel of judges or a single judge will decide the case..
Can I raise objections to the judge?
Yes, see Factsheet 2.
Can the charges be changed during the trial?
The trial is held only to decide on the act described in the charge. However, should it become apparent that you have committed other acts, it may be decided during the preliminary discussion of the charge or at the end of the trial that the case will be returned to the public prosecutor for further investigation.
The revised charge will contain the new allegations. The court can decide that the act for which you are being tried should be charged more moderately or severely than the public prosecutor.
What happens if I plead guilty to all or some charges during the trial?
If you plead guilty, the court will still go on to examine and assess the evidence of those people who speak in your favour.
What are my rights during the trial?
See Fundamental Rights at the beginning of this factsheet. Further specific rights exist that apply to specific procedural situations.
Do I have to be present at the trial? Can it be held without me?
The trial may be held in your absence, but not if:
In cases where a defence is required (see Factsheet 1) the trial cannot be held without the presence of a defence lawyer.
If I live in another Member State can I participate by video conference?
It is not possible to participate in a trial in this manner.
Will I be present during the whole trial?
You will be present throughout the trial. You do not have to be present for procedures which take place outside the trial, however, you or your defence lawyer have the right to participate in these if you want to.
Will I get an interpreter if I do not understand what is happening?
Yes, see Fundamental Rights at the beginning of this factsheet.
Must I have a lawyer? Will a lawyer be provided for me? Can I change my lawyer?
The Criminal Procedure Code specifies the cases which require a defence. See Factsheet 1.
Can I or must I speak at the trial?
During the trial you are entitled to a defence, that is to defend yourself or do so through your defence lawyer. During the entire trial the court will allow you or your defence lawyer to express an opinion on all the procedural steps which take place. You do not have to make use of your right to defend yourself and you can refuse to testify.
What are the consequences if I do not tell the truth during the trial?
As the accused, you are not obliged to tell the truth in court. However, if you intentionally state facts untruthfully in order to bring about the criminal prosecution of someone else, you may later be charged with libel.
What are my rights in relation to the evidence against me?
You are entitled to express an opinion on the evidence and propose additional evidence or propose evidence supporting your defence.
You will get the chance during a closing statement to express your opinion on the evidence after each individual piece of evidence has been examined.
What kind of evidence can I produce on my own behalf? Under what conditions?
In addition to your own testimony, you can propose evidence that could rebut or reduce your guilt, including for example hearing witnesses, challenging the evidence, identification of witnesses, crime scene reconstruction, hearing experts, documentary evidence, search, and so forth.
You are entitled to propose to the court that such evidence be examined. The court will decide whether to do so or not. As soon as the presiding judge declares the evidence complete, no further evidence can be presented in the trial.
Can I use a private detective to obtain evidence?
It is possible to use the services of a private detective. However, the detective must act in accordance with the law in order for the evidence which is obtained to be used during the trial. The private detective may not influence witnesses.
Can I ask witnesses to speak for me?
You can propose that a certain person is examined if you think the person’s evidence will benefit your case. But you cannot influence witnesses.
Will information about my criminal record be taken into account?
Your criminal record may be taken into account during sentencing, provided that the conviction has not expired.
What will happen at the end of the trial?
The trial may end in the following ways:
What sentence could I get?
Under the Criminal Code if you commit a crime you can be sentenced as follows:
What is the role of the victim (injured party) during the trial?
The victim, that is, the person who was injured, who sustained damage to property, his person, or other damage by a crime, is entitled to:
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