Victims' rights - by country

How can I report a crime?

Crimes can be reported to the competent public prosecutor’s office in writing, verbally or by other means.

If you report a crime verbally, you will be warned of the consequences of filing false complaints. For reports filed verbally, a written record is drawn up, while reports filed by telephone or other telecommunication means are, where possible, recorded electronically and a formal note is drawn up.

Victims who report a crime receive a written acknowledgement containing the basic details of the crime reported. Victims who do not speak or understand the language used by the authorities can report the crime in their own language and are provided with an interpreter or other person who speaks and understands both the language of the competent authority and the victim’s language. Victims who do not speak or understand the language used by the authorities can request to have the acknowledgement translated into their language free of charge.

If a crime report is submitted to a court, the police or the wrong public prosecutor’s office, they take receipt of it and immediately forward it to the competent public prosecutor’s office.

The public prosecutor immediately enters the crime report in the register of crime reports, except where the law states otherwise.

If a public prosecutor only receives news of a crime having been committed or they receive a report from the victim, they draw up a formal note, record it in the register of miscellaneous offence cases and proceed as provided for by law.

If the report contains no details of the crime, meaning that the public prosecutor is unable to identify what crime is being reported, they record it in the register of miscellaneous offence cases and ask the person reporting the crime to provide additional information within 15 days.

If the person reporting the crime fails to act on the request for additional information, the public prosecutor draws up an official note of this. Once the deadline for submitting additional information has expired, the public prosecutor must report this to a senior public prosecutor within eight days. The senior public prosecutor may order the crime report to be entered in the register of crime reports.

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

Two months after filing a criminal complaint or reporting a crime, the victim or the injured party may send the public prosecutor a request for information on the action taken in response to the complaint/report. The public prosecutor must reply within a reasonable period but no later than 30 days from the date of receipt of the written request, except where such a reply could undermine the proceedings. If the public prosecutor decides not to provide this information, they must inform the victim/injured party accordingly.

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as an injured party has the right to be informed of the outcome of the proceedings.

Am I entitled to legal aid (during the investigation or trial)? Under what conditions?

In addition to the above rights, before being interviewed victims of sexual crimes and human trafficking have the right to free consultation with a legal adviser and may be assigned a representative. The cost of the adviser/representative is paid for by the State.

Child victims have all the above rights as well as the right to a representative paid for by the State.

Crime victims have the right to primary and secondary legal aid. Such aid is provided free of charge to victims of violent crimes seeking compensation for the injury they have suffered as crime victims.

The Free Legal Aid Act makes provision for primary and secondary legal aid.

Primary legal aid covers general legal information, legal advice, submissions to public bodies, the European Court of Human Rights and international organisations in accordance with international treaties and internal rules of procedure, representation in proceedings before public bodies, and legal assistance in out-of-court dispute settlements.

Primary legal aid can be provided for any legal matter, provided that:

  • the applicant does not have the knowledge or ability to assert their rights;
  • the applicant has not received legal aid under special legislation;
  • the application submitted is not manifestly unfounded;
  • the applicant’s economic situation is such that paying for professional legal assistance could jeopardise their livelihood or that of members of their household.

Applicants seeking primary legal aid should contact a provider of primary legal aid directly.

Secondary legal aid covers legal advice, submissions in a procedure for protecting workers’ rights before the employer, submissions in court proceedings, representation in court proceedings, legal aid in amicable dispute settlements, and exemption from the payment of legal costs and court fees.

Secondary legal aid may be granted if:

  1. the proceedings are complex;
  2. the applicant is incapable of representing themselves;
  3. the applicant’s economic situation is such that paying for professional legal assistance could jeopardise their livelihood or that of members of their household;
  4. the litigation is not frivolous;
  5. the applicant has not had their application rejected within the past six months for intentionally supplying inaccurate information; and
  6. the applicant has not received legal aid under special legislation.

Secondary legal aid is approved without a prior assessment of the applicant’s economic situation, if the applicant is:

  1. a child taking part in maintenance proceedings;
  2. a victim of violent crime seeking compensation for the injury suffered as a result of the offence;
  3. a beneficiary of maintenance payments under the special legislation governing social security rights, or
  4. a beneficiary of a cost-of-living allowance under the Act on the rights of Croatian Independence War veterans and their family members and the Act on the protection of military and civilian war veterans.

Applicants seeking secondary legal aid must submit their application to the competent office using the dedicated form.

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

Defendants found guilty are ordered by the court to cover the costs of litigation, unless they are eligible for a full or partial exemption.

When criminal proceedings are suspended or when the court acquits the defendant or drops the charges, the court’s decision/ruling must provide that the cost of the criminal proceedings under Article 145(2)(1)-(5) of this Act, the unavoidable costs incurred by the defendant and the unavoidable costs and fees of the defence attorney are to be borne by the State, except where otherwise provided by law.

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

Victims whose criminal complaints have been rejected may pursue criminal prosecution themselves.

If the public prosecutor finds that there are no grounds for prosecution for an offence prosecutable ex officio or for prosecuting any of the individuals reported, they must notify the victim of this within eight days and inform them that they may pursue prosecution themselves. This must also be done by a court if it issues a decision discontinuing proceedings because the public prosecutor has dropped prosecution in other cases.

Can I be involved in the trial?

Under this Act, the injured party to criminal proceedings has the right to:

  • use their mother tongue, including sign language, and request an interpreter, if they do not speak or understand Croatian, or a sign language interpreter, if the injured party is deaf or deafblind;
  • file an associated action for damages and motions for temporary injunctions;
  • legal representation;
  • present facts and adduce evidence;
  • attend the evidentiary hearing;
  • attend the proceedings, take part in the evidentiary proceedings and make a closing statement;
  • request access to the case file under Article 184(2) of this Act;
  • ask to be informed by the public prosecutor in respect of action taken on the basis of their report and file a complaint to a senior public prosecutor;
  • appeal;
  • seek restoration of the previous situation;
  • be notified of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

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

Victims of crime are private individuals who have suffered physical or psychological harm, damage to property or a serious violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms as a direct consequence of a crime. Victims of crime can also mean the spouse, partner, life partner, informal life partner and descendant(s) of the person whose death was directly attributable to the crime, or, failing that, their ascendant(s) or sibling(s). of the person whose death was directly attributable to the crime. Any person legally maintained by the deceased is also considered to be a victim of that crime.

An injured party is a crime victim or a legal person that has suffered injury as a result of a crime and participates in criminal proceedings in that capacity.

The capacity of a party to or participant in the proceedings does not depend on that person’s wish, but on the role that person had in the criminal matter. Anyone can appear in any of the above roles, depending on the circumstances laid down by law; the choice that they have concerns the rights they wish to exercise as injured party or crime victim.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

A victim of crime has the right to:

  • access support services for crime victims;
  • effective psychological and other professional assistance and support from bodies, organisations, and institutions supporting victims of crime, in accordance with the law;
  • protection from intimidation and retaliation;
  • protection of their dignity while being heard as a witness;
  • be heard without undue delay after filing a criminal complaint and to subsequently be questioned no more than is absolutely necessary for the purpose of the criminal proceedings;
  • be accompanied by a person of trust in whatever actions they participate in;
  • minimal medical procedures and only if these are absolutely vital for the purpose of the criminal proceedings;
  • file a motion to prosecute or bring a private action under the Criminal Code, to participate in criminal proceedings as an injured party, to be informed about the dismissal of a criminal complaint (Article 206(3) of the Act) and about the decision of the public prosecutor to take no action, and to pursue prosecution individually without the public prosecutor;
  • be informed by the public prosecutor on the action taken on the basis of their complaint (Article 206a of the Act), and to lodge a complaint with a senior public prosecutor (Article 206b of this Act);
  • request and receive information without undue delay on the release of the offender from detention or remand, the offender’s escape or release from prison, and on measures taken to ensure the victim’s protection;
  • request and receive information on any final decision terminating the criminal proceedings;
  • other rights as provided for by law.

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as an injured party has the right to:

  • use their mother tongue, including sign language, and request an interpreter, if they do not speak or understand Croatian, or a sign language interpreter, if the injured party is deaf or deafblind;
  • file for damages and temporary injunctions;
  • legal representation;
  • present facts and adduce evidence;
  • attend the evidentiary hearing;
  • attend the proceedings, take part in the evidentiary proceedings and make a closing statement;
  • request access to the case file in accordance with the law;
  • ask to be informed by the public prosecutor in respect of action taken on the basis of their report and file a complaint to a senior public prosecutor;
  • appeal;
  • seek restoration of the previous situation;
  • be notified of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

In addition to the victims’ rights under this Act child victims enjoy the following rights: (1) representative provided free of charge, (2) personal data protection, (3) exclusion of the public. (Article 44(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act)

In addition to the victims’ rights referred to in Article 43 of this Act, victims of sexual crimes and human trafficking enjoy the following rights: (1) free consultation before being interviewed, (2) a free representative, (3) to be interrogated, at the police or the public prosecutor's office, by a person of the same sex, and, if possible, by that same person if the interview is repeated, (4) to not reply to questions that are not related to the crime but concern the victim’s private life, (5) to request to be interviewed by audio-visual means (Article 292(4) of this Act), (6) personal data protection, (7) exclusion of the public from the proceedings. (Article 44(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act)

During the investigation stage, crime victims who are private plaintiffs or injured parties may draw attention to all facts and adduce evidence that is material for ascertaining the crime, identifying the offender(s) and establishing their claims in the associated action for damages.

Both before and at all stages during the criminal proceedings, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the court must consider whether it is possible for the defendant to compensate the injured party for any loss caused by the crime. They must also inform the injured party of certain rights under law (e.g. the injured party’s right to use their mother tongue, the right to file for damages, etc.).

Persons who are likely to have information on the crime, the offender or other pertinent circumstances can be summoned as witnesses.

Injured parties, injured parties acting as plaintiff and private plaintiffs can be questioned as witnesses.

private plaintiff has the same rights as the public prosecutor with the exception of the rights belonging solely to a state authority.

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

Under this Act, the injured party has the right to:

(4) draw attention to the facts and present evidence;

(5) attend the evidentiary hearing;

(6) attend the proceedings, take part in the evidentiary proceedings and make a closing statement (Article 51(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act).

A victim pursuing prosecution has the same rights as the public prosecutor with the exception of the rights belonging solely to a state authority.

A private plaintiff has the same rights as the public prosecutor with the exception of the rights belonging solely to a state authority. Private plaintiffs are subject to the same procedural provisions that apply to injured parties and plaintiffs.

At the hearing the chief judge invites all the parties to set out the evidence they intend to present at the main hearing. Each party is invited to comment on the other party’s submissions.

What information will I receive during the trial?

During the investigation stage, crime victims who are private plaintiffs or injured parties may draw attention to all facts and adduce evidence that is material for ascertaining the crime, identifying the offender(s) and establishing their claims in the action for damages.

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as an injured party has the right to:

  • ask to be informed by the public prosecutor in respect of action taken on the basis of their report and file a complaint to a senior public prosecutor;
  • be informed that the criminal complaint has been dismissed or that the public prosecutor has decided to take no action;
  • receive notice of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Will I be able to access court files?

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as the injured party may access the case file.

Last update: 04/07/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Feedback

Use the form below to share your comments and feedback on our new website