You can report a crime:
You may submit your report orally and sign the minutes the police or prosecutor will prepare. You may also submit a report in writing: no special form is required but you must sign the report. You can make your report in any language and should include relevant personal details. Anonymous reports are not prohibited, but cannot oblige the authorities to act.
You have the right to be received by the police in a specially designated area and be treated with respect, taking into account your sex, age and the crime you have suffered from. You will be referred to institutions or organisations offering aid to victims of crime. You can be assisted by an interpreter free of charge if you do not speak Bulgarian or have hearing or speaking impairments. To submit a crime report you can, but are not obliged to, use a lawyer at your own expense.
There is no specific deadline for reporting a crime, except for the period after which public prosecution cannot be initiated. This period may vary from three to twenty years, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
After receiving your report, the authorities will assess the available information and if there is reasonable suspicion of a crime they will start proceedings. If the prosecutor refuses to do so, you will be notified. You can appeal the refusal before the superior prosecutor. The notification will indicate where you can submit your appeal.
After reporting a crime, you may request and receive the registration number given to your report and the name and contact details of the officer in charge of it. Using the registration number you can contact the police officer in charge of your case to receive information about the progress of the investigation.
If you want to take part in the investigation or obtain information, you need to make a request to the police or the prosecutor and provide an address in Bulgaria, even if you are a foreigner - your own, that of your lawyer or a friend/relative – notifying the authorities in case of any change. You can, but are not obliged to, use a lawyer, generally at your own expense.
You are not required to prove any aspects of the crime.
If you do not speak Bulgarian you have the right to an interpreter free of charge in your personal contacts with the authorities. You have the right to be informed about the progress of the case and about your right (as a victim or heir to a victim) to ask the court to freeze the offender’s property, if you intend to file a civil claim once the case goes to trial.
You can be present at investigative actions, if that would not hamper the investigation and if the police or the prosecutor so permits. If the police refuse to let you be present, you can appeal before the prosecutor. If he/she upholds the refusal, you can appeal to his/her superior.
On your request, you can personally examine the case file after the investigation is completed with the help of an interpreter free of charge, if needed. The police will present the file and explain the rights you have. If you cannot study the materials yourself, the police officer will clarify and read them to you. You can make requests, remarks and objections.
In some cases, e.g. when the offender has been caught at the scene of the crime, the police may undertake an accelerated investigation in which you will not be allowed to participate.
If you are summoned to be interviewed as a witness, you have to attend before the police or the prosecutor. You have additional rights, related to your testimony:
You will be warned in advance that you should not refuse to be interviewed, give false testimony or hide details. You are expected to tell conscientiously and accurately everything you know about the case.
If you are under 18 years of age, you have the right:
If your interests are in conflict with those of your parent, guardian or custodian (e.g. if he/she has previously harmed or otherwise acted against your interests), the prosecutor will appoint a lawyer free of charge to represent you.
If you are a victim (or heir/relative of a victim) of certain crimes (1), you have the right to be informed by police and victim support organisations, in writing or orally, in a language you understand, about:
A permanent toll-free victims telephone line will be operational soon. If you are a child, or a child around you is being victimised, you can call free of charge the 24-hour hotline for children in need 116 111, where consultants can accept a report in Bulgarian or English.
You have the right to free legal aid only if you are a victim (or heir/relative of a victim) of certain crimes (1). You have to make a request to the prosecutor or the police officer investigating the case. In such cases, legal aid is given to you free of charge, if you present evidence that you cannot pay for it.
You, or the public prosecutor with your consent, can ask the court to ban the offender from approaching you. The court’s decision cannot be appealed. The ban applies until the end of proceedings, but you can request its lifting at any time.
If you are a witness and your evidence might endanger you or your relatives, upon your request or with your consent the prosecutor or the court can place you under temporary witness protection measures:
If you are a witness in proceedings for specific crimes (crimes against the person; arson; explosion; drug-related crimes; organized crime; etc.) and you cannot be protected with the above measures, you can also enter a special protection programme (2).
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can turn to the regional court at your place of residence to impose a protection measure under the domestic violence legislation. This is not part of the criminal proceedings.
You can receive medical help from medical institutions if you have valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the European Health Insurance Card. You can call the emergency units of hospitals at the European emergency number 112.
If you are a victim (or heir of a victim) of certain crimes (1), you may receive free psychological support by the Nadja Centre and the Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption, if you submit a written request.
If you are a victim of human trafficking, you have additional rights, such as:
Bulgarian legislation does not provide for mediation in criminal proceedings. However, your case may end up with an ‘agreement’ between the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer, prepared after the closing of the investigation and approved by court. Agreement can be reached in proceedings for many types of crime, except for some serious crimes against the person, such as murder and sexual crimes. It states whether a crime has been committed and what the penalty should be. The court will notify you if an agreement has been approved.
An agreement cannot be concluded if your property damages from the crime have not been covered or secured. When approved by court, the agreement is equal to a sentence having entered into force and can thus significantly decrease the length of the proceedings.
After the end of the investigation, the prosecutor will:
When the prosecutor closes or suspends the case on any of the grounds mentioned, you, as a victim or an heir to a victim, will receive a copy of this decision and can appeal to the court within seven days. You can further appeal the court’s decision within seven days before the higher court, but only if the case was closed definitively (not suspended temporarily). In all other cases you cannot appeal against the court’s decision. For the appeal procedures, you can, but are not obliged to, have a lawyer, generally at your own expense.
If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Bulgaria you have all the rights described above. Specifically, you can:
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