Victims' rights - by country


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Can I appeal against a sentence or if the defendant is declared not guilty?

Is further appeal possible?

What rights do I have after the court sentence enters into force?

More information

Can I appeal against a sentence or if the defendant is declared not guilty?

The trial concludes with the court convicting the defendant or declaring him/her not guilty. If convicted, the defendant will be sentenced. This could involve an imprisonment, a fine or some other form of penalty. You can appeal against the verdict or the penalty only if you have participated in the proceedings as a civil claimant (1), additional private prosecutor (2) and/or private prosecutor (3). If you were a civil claimant (1), you can appeal only as far as your civil claim is concerned.

You need to submit your appeal within fifteen days from the date you were informed of the sentence. The appeal court rules on the correctness of the whole sentence regardless of the appeal grounds you have stated. It can establish new facts and can look at all types of evidence.

Appeals have to be made in writing and signed and should state:

  • the court to which they are submitted;
  • relevant personal information;
  • what you are asking the court to do;
  • why are you appealing; and
  • any evidence you want the court to collect.

The court to which you are appealing may:

  • refer the case back to the first instance court;
  • modify the sentence or issue a new one;
  • close or suspend criminal proceedings; or
  • uphold the sentence.

Is further appeal possible?

If you have participated as a civil claimant (1), additional private prosecutor (2) and/or private prosecutor (3), you can further appeal against the court’s decision before the Supreme Cassation Court within fifteen days of being informed of it.

The appeal has to be made in writing and signed and should contain:

  • relevant personal information;
  • the part of the sentence or decision against which you are appealing;
  • the reason for the appeal (violation of law, serious violation of procedural rules or unfair penalty) and
  • what you are asking the court to do.

The Supreme Cassation Court may:

  • uphold the sentence or modify it;
  • close or suspend proceedings; or
  • refer the case back to one of the previous courts.

What rights do I have after the court sentence enters into force?

If the sentence has not been appealed or once the appeal procedure is finished, the sentence enters into force and your role in the proceedings is generally over. In some cases, you can continue to benefit from the special protection programme (4) if you have been placed under such during the proceedings.

The law does not provide you with the right to get information about the release of the perpetrator or to participate in the work of the authorities involved in the early release or amnesty procedures.

More information:

  • Criminal Procedure Code (Наказателно-процесуален кодекс) – in Bulgarian
  • Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Bulgarian

1. Civil claimant
If you want to claim compensation for damages from the offender as part of the criminal proceedings you have to become a civil claimant. To do so you have to submit a request to the court orally or in writing. You need to include information about yourself, the offender or another person you are claiming damages from, the case, the crime and the nature and amount of your damage. If you are unable to protect your rights and legal interests due to young age or physical or psychological disabilities, the prosecutor can submit the civil claim for you. When you become a civil claimant you will obtain a number of rights to help you actively participate in the proceedings.

2. Additional private prosecutor
If you want to press charges in court along with the public prosecutor you have to become an additional private prosecutor. To do so you have to submit a request to the court before the presentation of evidence starts. Your request can be oral or written and you have to include information about yourself and about the circumstances of the crime. You do not have to pay any state fee and the court can sentence the offender to cover the costs you have incurred. When you become an additional private prosecutor you will obtain a number of rights to help you actively participate in the proceedings, including the right to continue the prosecution even if the public prosecutor withdraws charges.

3. Private prosecutor
For a limited number of crimes (e.g. insult, libel, minor bodily injury, caused by a relative, etc.), only you, as a victim or an heir of a victim of such a crime, can initiate proceedings by submitting a complaint directly to the court. The proceedings will begin directly in court and no preliminary investigation will take place. The complaint needs to be submitted in writing and contain relevant information about you, the person you are complaining about and the incident. You have to sign it and submit it within six months of the day on which you learned about the crime. You need to pay a state fee of 12 BG Leva (6 Euro) and attach the receipt to your complaint. You are also obliged to pay a certain amount specified by the court, which will be used to cover the expenses for the proceedings. You may also claim compensation from the offender for the damages suffered. You will have to prove all aspects of the crime because no public prosecutor will participate in the trial. If necessary, you can seek the assistance of the police in collecting data.

4. Special protection programme
The special protection programme includes the following measures:
· personal physical guard;
· property guard;
· temporary safe accommodation;
· change of residence, place of work or study, or transfer to another place of imprisonment;
· in exceptional circumstances only: change of identity.
It may be accompanied by a temporary ban on disclosing your personal data and by social, medical, psychological, legal or financial assistance.
The programme can also apply to your parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, siblings, spouse or persons you are in particularly close relations with.
Last update: 09/03/2020

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