If information gathered in evidence against you during the investigation provides grounds for your case to be brought to court, the prosecutor will file an indictment with the court, unless he or she decides otherwise.
The main trial is held at a district court. In complex cases (e.g. the defendants are high officials, or it is a case involving corruption, criminal or terrorist groups, etc.,), the case will be heard by the Specialized Criminal Court. For more details, click here. Cases in Slovakia are decided by a single judge or a senate of 3 judges, depending on the gravity of the crime.
The court will review the indictment to see whether the evidence was gathered in accordance with law, whether you would agree with a plea bargain, and so forth. You can present more evidence and, if you are in custody, ask to be released. If serious flaws are ascertained by the court, the indictment will be returned to the prosecutor. Otherwise, the court will set the hearing date, close the criminal prosecution, approve conciliation, or order other steps.
Cases are heard in public. The public can be excluded from a hearing if their presence would be a threat to bank or telecommunication secrecy, public order, identity of an agent, or similar reasons. You and your lawyer cannot be excluded from a hearing. The judge can expel you from the hearing room, if you are disturbing court decorum. The judgement is always announced in public.
The prosecutor cannot change the charges against you after your case is in court. The court may only rule on the offence described in the indictment. Your deed can be determined to be a different criminal offence than the one originally decided by the prosecutor. If so, you must be informed about this and have at least 5 days available for the preparation of your defence.
You have the right to plead “guilty” or “not guilty”. If you plead guilty, the court will only examine evidence needed to decide on punishment and/or compensation for damages.
You have the right (not the duty) to be present at the trial. The court may hear the case-in-principle without your presence if you so agree, or if you refuse to be present, or on other grounds as defined by the law. The same applies to the process of appeals. You also have the right to an interpreter, to a lawyer, to give testimony or “not to testify”; you may also lie. If you are a foreign national, you do not have the right to give testimony or appear in the trial via a video link. This right is granted only to a witness and/or a defendant whose is threatened.
The investigation bodies must secure evidence and/or produce it at the court. You have the right to do the same. You may use the services of a private investigator. If the court releases you, you are entitled to reimbursement of the costs related to the private investigator. The court only examines evidence gathered in accordance with law.
During the trial, the defendant, witnesses, and experts are questioned by the prosecutor. You (or your attorney) can also ask questions. Your witnesses are questioned by you. You can raise objections about how the questioning is conducted such as the admissibility of the questions or their answers. You have the right to challenge all evidence such as evidence provided by witnesses, experts’ opinions, physical and documentary evidence, and sound recordings.
Once the court ends the examination of evidence, you can make your final statement. After the prosecutor’s final statement, the court gives the opportunity for the victim or your lawyer to speak. Your statement is the last one to be heard. You can challenge the indictment, the evidence, and the offence charged against you, offer mitigating circumstances, question the sentence, and so forth. The court may interrupt your final statement only if you make statements not related to your case. You also have the right to make a closing statement during which you must not be interrupted.
The court will either find you “guilty” or “not guilty”, or relieve you of the charges.
The court will free you of the charges set out in the indictment if:
If the court finds you guilty, it will decide on the sentence and/or the duty to compensate the injured party for damages.
The court may also decide to do otherwise, similar to the procedure applied by the prosecutor when closing an investigation.
A victim can:
For more information, click here.
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