Victims' rights - by country

How do I report a crime?

You can file a criminal complaint with any police body or public prosecutor in writing, verbally in a report or electronically. In the criminal complaint, you should demonstrate what you believe constitutes evidence that the criminal offence has been committed.

How do I find out what’s happening with the case?

If you so request in the criminal complaint, the competent authority must inform you of the measures taken within one month after the complaint was filed. As a victim, you are, in principle, the harmed party and, as such, you have the right to consult the file. You can also apply for information on the status of the proceedings. Such information must be provided to you by the competent authority; this does not apply if such information may be detrimental to the purpose of the criminal proceedings.

Am I entitled to legal aid (during the investigation or trial)? What are the conditions?

Yes. You can receive legal assistance even before the criminal proceedings are initiated and you can receive it throughout the proceedings as well as after its termination. Legal assistance is provided by lawyers. Particularly vulnerable victims may receive legal assistance in criminal proceedings free of charge. Additionally, it may be provided free of charge or at a reduced price to a victim who has suffered severe harm due to an intentional criminal offence, or to the survivor of a victim who has died as a result of a criminal offence; these persons must demonstrate that they do not have sufficient funds. Other victims have the right to legal assistance for a fee.

Can I claim expenses (for taking part in the investigation/trial)? What are the conditions?

If you are the harmed party in criminal proceedings and you claim compensation for damage or non-pecuniary harm or the restitution of unjust enrichment, and this claim is at least partially granted to you, the convicted person is obliged to compensate you for the expenses necessary for the reasonable exercise of this claim in the proceedings. If you file a motion for such compensation, the court may still grant it even if your claim was unsuccessful.

If you are a witness, you are entitled to a witness fee. You must claim this fee within 3 days after the interview.

Can I appeal if my case is closed before going to court?

You can oppose this by filing a complaint. The complaint is a means of appeal against the decisions of the police authority and some decisions of the public prosecutor in the pre-trial proceedings, which take the form of a resolution. This way, you, as the harmed party, may oppose for example the resolution to discontinue the case and the resolution to terminate prosecution.

Can I be involved in the trial?

Yes. You (as the harmed party) will be informed of when the main proceedings will be held by the court.

What is my official role in the justice system? For example, am I or can I choose to be a: victim, witness, civil party or private prosecutor?

The Czech legal order distinguishes between the term ‘victim’ and the term ‘harmed party’. A harmed party is one of the parties to the criminal proceedings. In principle, the term encompasses all victims, except those who are victims due to a family relationship with a person who has died as a result of a crime.

Therefore, in the Czech judicial system you will be the victim and the harmed party (and hence a party to the criminal proceedings; this does not apply in the case mentioned above) – as a victim, you may claim compensation for damage, non-pecuniary harm or unjust enrichment. In principle, you will also be a witness. Private legal actions do not exist under the Czech legal order; therefore, you cannot be a private prosecutor.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

Victims’ rights are governed primarily by the Victims of Crimes Act and they are described in other replies.

The harmed party has a number of rights pursuant to Act No 141/1961, Code of Criminal Procedure, including the possibility to claim compensation for damage and non-pecuniary harm caused by a criminal offence or the restitution of unjust enrichment, or the possibility to appeal against the operative part of the decision on compensation for damage, harm or restitution of unjust enrichment. The harmed party also has the right to file motions for additional evidence, consult the files, attend the trial, attend the public session on appeals, express his or her opinion on the case before the end of the proceedings, take part in negotiating the agreement on guilt and punishment and attend the public session on its approval, the right to be represented by a representative and the right to file appeals and applications in specified cases.

Can I make a statement during the trial or give evidence? Under what conditions? What are the conditions?

Yes, you can make a statement about the impact of the crime on your life at any stage of the criminal proceedings, both verbally and in writing. As a victim, i.e. as one of the parties to the proceedings, you may search for, present and propose evidence.

What information will I receive during the trial?

At your request, you will receive information:

  • that the criminal proceedings have not been initiated;
  • on the state of the criminal proceedings;
  • on the classification of the act of which the person is accused;
  • the time and place of the public hearing of the case before the court;

and you will also be given the final decision ending the proceedings.

Will I be able to access court files?

Yes, as a harmed party, you have the right to consult the file. However, for serious reasons, you may be denied this right by the public prosecutor or the police authority in the pre-trial proceedings.

Last update: 16/09/2020

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