If you have missed the opportunity to ask to be formally recognised as a victim during the investigation, you can ask the court make this formal recognition during the trial. Your request must be made before the court starts to examine the evidence.
As a victim you have the following rights during the trial:
You can receive information about the trial online through the Latvian Judicial Portal. You do not need special registration or authorisation but to receive information you have to insert the number of your case.
As a victim, your presence in the courtroom is not obligatory. If you cannot attend the hearing due to justified reasons (e.g. illness) you can ask the court to postpone it. In certain cases the court may also request your presence if it is important for the outcome of the case.
During the trial you can authorise any person above 18 years of age to represent you. You can also use the assistance of a lawyer. You can choose a lawyer from the online database of lawyers, which offers a full list of lawyers and their contact details. The lawyer’s services will be free of charge if you qualify for legal aid.
You can make a request to the court to reimburse you for the expenses related to your participation in the trial. There is no deadline for claiming reimbursement. You can request reimbursement for:
If you are called for an interview as a witness you will receive information about the criminal proceedings for which you will be interviewed and about your rights and duties as a witness.
As a witness you can:
You are obliged not to disclose any information about the case you have learned during your interview.
If you are formally recognised as a victim and are interviewed in the course of the trial as a witness, you will benefit from all rights of a victim.
If you are child under 18 years of age you will be represented during the trial by:
You can receive legal aid free of charge if you want to have a lawyer but because of your low income, specific status (e.g. person in need) or other exceptional circumstances (e.g. natural disaster) you cannot pay for the services of a lawyer.
You can get additional protection if you are a victim or a witness and you are afraid that your testimony may put you or a person close to you in danger. If you have been placed under additional protection measures during the investigation these measures will continue to apply during the trial. If you have missed this opportunity you can ask the court to place you under special protection during the trial. The judge will examine your request and will decide what type of protection would be most appropriate for you.
The protection measures during the trial are the same as during the investigation and may include:
If you have been placed under additional protection your identity will be kept secret and your name will be replaced by a pseudonym in all documents related to the case. You can stay out of the courtroom and participate in the hearing through audio or videoconference.
Usually when a person placed under protection is involved in the case the court hearings are non-public. If necessary, you will be interviewed in a separate room and the interview will be broadcasted in the courtroom in a way that does not reveal your identity. You can refuse to answer questions that may reveal your identity. You can even refuse to be interviewed at all, in which case the judge will read in the courtroom the record of your interview during the investigation. You can participate in the hearing through audio conference or videoconference so that you do not need to be present in the courtroom.
You can claim financial compensation from the offender if the crime has caused you physical injury, psychological suffering or financial loss. You can submit your claim during the investigation or during the trial before the court starts examining the evidence. The claim should include a justification of the requested amount. You can submit your claim orally or in writing.
You can withdraw your claim at any time before the court starts discussing the final judgment. The withdrawal of your claim will not affect the rest of the proceedings.
If you are not satisfied with the amount of the compensation awarded by the court you can submit another claim before a civil court. When deciding on your claim the civil court will take into account the amount awarded to you during the criminal proceedings.
If you have suffered from a violent crime you can apply for financial compensation from the State. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Latvia (available in English, Latvian and other languages) of the European Judicial Network.
You can reconcile with the offender at any time before the court starts discussing the final judgement. You have to notify the judge about the conciliation you have reached. The notification can be oral or in writing. The court will take into account your conciliation and, depending on how serious the crime was, may close the case without convicting and sentencing the offender or impose a lighter penalty.
During the trial there are limited opportunities to start a mediation procedure. The State Probation Service has temporarily (until 31 December 2012) stopped providing mediation services at this stage of the proceedings but mediation can still be carried out with the involvement of NGOs.
If you are a foreigner you can benefit from all the rights described above. You also have some additional rights to facilitate your participation in the trial.
If you do not speak Latvian you can use any language you understand. The court will provide you with an interpreter free of charge.
If a document is issued in the course of the investigation, which directly concerns you, it will also be translated, free of charge. In practice, documents are usually translated orally.
You can receive legal aid free of charge if you are citizen of the European Union, you legally reside on the territory of Latvia and you cannot pay for the services of a lawyer.
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