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Victims' rights - by country

How can I be involved in the trial?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

How can I claim damages from the accused person or receive compensation from the State?

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the accused person and myself?

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

More information

How can I be involved in the trial?

If you are not a party to the proceedings, you will be notified about the date and time of the hearing only if you have requested this information during the preliminary investigation.

When a prosecutor has launched a prosecution, you may support the prosecution at any time during the proceedings and then you will become a party and will have almost the same procedural position as the prosecutor (you can for example present your own evidence). If you have a claim for damages you also become a party at this stage.

If you are a party in the proceedings you have the right to be present throughout the trial proceedings, even if the trial is not public.

You may be called to appear in court if the prosecutor has asked that you be heard or if you have lodged a claim for damages. You will receive a notification about the date and time of hearing and be told what acceptable reasons there are for not appearing in court. If you are ill or if you have some other valid reason for not appearing in court, you must notify the court as soon as possible before the hearing. The court will then tell you whether or not your presence is required. If you fail to appear without a valid reason you risk being fined.

If you are a party in the proceedings, you have the right to present your claim during the trial. After that you will be questioned by the prosecutor and the accused person (or his/her lawyer) without taking an oath. You or your legal counsel (1) can, if you are a party, also cross-examine the accused person, witnesses and expert-witnesses. At the end you will also have the opportunity to give a final speech.

If you feel that you need support during the hearing, you have the right to be accompanied by a support person. You can have both a legal counsel and a support person if you like. You can choose someone you already know or you can ask the social services or one of the victim support centres or women’s shelters - Women’s and Girl’s Shelters in Sweden, Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR), etc.

If you have been invited to appear in court at the request of the prosecutor, you have the right to be reimbursed for expenses you have incurred in order to come to court. The reimbursement can be granted for: travel costs, accommodation and loss of income (a maximum amount of SEK 700 per day). There is no deadline to apply for reimbursement.

What are my rights as a witness?

As a victim of crime, you will not be interviewed as a witness but as a party. Thus, you do not have a duty to answer or to speak under oath. This applies throughout the criminal procedure.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

As a minor you may have the right to your own legal counsel (1) which is appointed by the court and is free of charge. In some cases you can have the right to a special legal representative (2) if a person responsible for looking after you, generally a parent, is suspected of having committed a crime against you or if the suspect has a close relationship with the person responsible for looking after you.

If you as a child have witnessed a crime, which would typically be assumed to harm your confidence and trust in a person with whom you have a special relationship, you may be entitled to compensation from the State. For instance, you may have witnessed one parent being assaulted or threatened by the other or by some other person close to you.

Can I receive legal aid?

Legal assistance may be given in several different forms.

Legal advice can be provided by a lawyer’s office concerning all types of cases and lawsuits. Such a consultation must not exceed two hours. The fee you have to pay for consultation is fixed and currently amounts to SEK 1 506 per hour. The fee may be reduced depending on your financial circumstances.

If you are a victim of a crime of a sexual nature or violence in close relationships you may have the right to your own legal counsel (1), which is appointed by the court and is free of charge. A legal counsel may under certain conditions be appointed for you in other situations as well.

A legal counsel is obliged to assist you if you have claims for damages. If a legal counsel has not been appointed for you, the public prosecutor may in some cases be able to assist you concerning damages claims.

If the public prosecutor is not able to assist you concerning claims for damages or if you need help in negotiations with an insurance company, you can contact a lawyer’s office in order to hire a legal representative. If you have insurance including a legal expenses clause, you have to make use of your insurance in order to cover the costs for legal representation. If you do not have a legal expenses clause in your insurance, and it is not deemed that you ought to have had such a clause, you may be granted legal aid provided that an income check shows that you are eligible for such aid. In that case, part of your costs for legal representation will be covered by the State.

Both an insurance policy with a legal expenses clause and legal aid may also cover the costs of providing evidence, travel and accommodation as well as other costs. Information about how to apply for legal aid is available from any lawyer’s office, court of law or the National Legal Aid Authority.

If you have a mental or physical disability or illness you have the right to a trustee in charge of your assets and interests. The trustee is appointed by the court and is usually a layman. He or she may also be a relative.

If you are not satisfied with the processing of a case, you may file a report to the Ombudsman of Justice who has the task of ensuring that public authorities and their staff comply with laws and other statutes governing their actions.

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

Court hearings are usually open to the general public. If you are afraid to speak in the presence of the accused person, you need to notify the court, the prosecutor or your legal counsel, preferably well in advance of the court hearing. The court may then decide, for instance, that the accused person must sit in another room while you are being heard. However, the accused person is entitled to listen to your statement via a loudspeaker. If you are afraid of a person sitting in the public gallery, the court can rule that he/she must go out while you are being heard.

If your case is of a very sensitive nature (e.g. a sexual offences or an offence committed by a young offender), the court may decide that it will hold a non-public hearing and only certain persons will be allowed to stay in the courtroom.

If you and/or your relatives are threatened, there are a number of measures intended to improve your and their safety:

  • visiting ban (3);
  • restricted access (4) to your personal data;
  • change of name (change of name to a parent’s surname can be done through an application to the National Tax Board, a change to any other surname requires permission from the Swedish Patent and Registration Office);
  • security package (the package comprise a mobile phone and an alarm system and can be borrowed from the local police authority after special review); and
  • other measures (in very serious circumstances you can get a personal bodyguard and/or be granted permission to use a fictitious identity).

The police and the National Tax Board can also give practical advice on how you can make everyday life safer.

How can I claim damages from the accused person or receive compensation from the State?

You can claim compensation from the accused person for all damages and injury incurred as a result of the crime. As a rule, a claim for damages is examined by the court simultaneously with its assessment of whether or not the accused is guilty of the crime.

You can claim damages from the person who has committed the crime and caused the injury or damage. If you wish to do so, you need to tell the police when they question you; you can also say that you want the prosecutor to help you with your claim. To facilitate this, the prosecutor must prepare and present your claim for damages at the hearing if you so request. Exceptions will only be made if the question of damages requires extensive investigation or if the claim is clearly unjustified (e.g. it is either not related to the crime or is much higher than is normal in similar circumstances). If you have your own legal counsel (1) he/she will help you with your claim. If the prosecutor does not present your claim for damages and you do not have a legal counsel, you can present your claim by yourself.

Often it is not possible to get the damages you are entitled to from the accused person, either because he/she is unknown or is unable to pay. If you do not have an insurance policy that fully covers the injuries, you can sometimes get compensation from the State known as criminal injuries compensation. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Sweden (available in English, Swedish and other languages) of the European Judicial Network, or turn directly to the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority, which is the authority responsible for handling applications of criminal injuries compensation

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the accused person and myself?

There are no opportunities for you to reach a settlement between the accused person and yourself in relation to the public prosecution. You can however reach a settlement as regards your claim for damages.

If you reach a settlement with the offender about a certain sum that otherwise, according to established practice, would be considered too low, you may not receive the surplus amount from an insurance company or the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority as compensation from the State.

There is also a possibility for you to resort to mediation with the accused when:

  • the offence has been reported to the police;
  • the accused has acknowledged his/her guilt before mediation can be initiated; or if
  • mediation is voluntary for both parties.

Mediation may take place at any stage of the judicial procedure and is arranged by the local authorities. Mediation means that the accused person and the victim, with the participation of a mediator, meet to discuss the crime committed as well as the effects of that crime. Mediation, however, offers no possibility of reaching a settlement between the accused and the victim.

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Sweden you have all the rights explained above. In addition, if you do not speak Swedish, you are entitled to free assistance from an interpreter during the hearing. You also have the right to have certain documents translated free of charge.

More information:

  • Code of Judicial Procedure (Rättegångsbalk) – in English and Swedish
  • Decree on Preliminary Investigation (Förundersökningskungörelse) – in Swedish
  • Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (Offentlighets - och sekretesslag) – in English and Swedish
  • The Freedom of the Press Act (Tryckfrihetsförordning) – in English and Swedish
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Act (Brottsskadelag) – in Swedish
  • Decree on Criminal Injuries Compensation (Brottsskadeförordning) – in Swedish
  • Act on Mediation (Lag 2002:445 om medling med anledning av brott) – in Swedish
  • Act on Restraining Orders (Lag 1988:688 om kontaktförbud) – in Swedish
  • Act on Population Registration (Folkbokföringslag) – in Swedish
  • Name Act (Namnlag) – in Swedish
  • Act on Fictitious Personal Data (Lag 1991:483 om fingerade personuppgifter) – in Swedish
  • Act on Special Representative for Children (Lag 1999:997 om särskild företrädare för barn) – in Swedish
  • Act concerning Counsel for the Injured Party (Lag 1988:609 om målsägandebiträde) – in Swedish
  • Parental Code (Föräldrabalk) – in Swedish
  • Administrative Procedure Act (Förvaltningslag) – in Swedish
  • Social Service Act (Socialtjänstlag) - in English and Swedish
  • Legal Aid Act (Rättshjälpslag) – in Swedish
  • Ordinance of Payments Concerning Reimbursements of Expenses in Cases and Court Matters (Kungörelse 1973:261 om utbetalning av vissa ersättningar I mål eller ärende vid domstol m.m.) – in Swedish
  • Decree on Reimbursements from Public funds to witnesses (Förordning 1982:805 om ersättning av allmänna medel till vittnen m.m.) – in Swedish
Notes:

1. Legal counsel
The counsel is usually a lawyer or an assistant lawyer at a legal practice, but can also be another suitable person with legal expertise. The counsel will look after your interests and give you guidance and support during the investigation.
A counsel can be appointed as soon as the preliminary investigation has been initiated. If you feel you need a counsel, you need to bring up the matter with the police officer or the public prosecutor in charge of the preliminary investigation as soon as possible. You can also make a request for a counsel directly to the district court. It is the district court that decides whether you are entitled to a counsel and if so, the court will appoint the counsel free of charge. You are allowed to make a request regarding whom the court shall appoint. The counsel can also help you by presenting your claim for damages.

2. Special legal represenative for children
If you are a minor and one of your parents or a person who has custody of you is suspected of having committed a crime against you a special legal representative will be appointed to safeguard your rights during the investigation and at the hearing. If your parents are living together, a lawyer or an assistant lawyer at a legal practice may be appointed as special legal representative. If your parents do not live together, the parent not suspected of having committed a crime against you may be appointed as special legal representative. The person chosen must be experienced and have a sound knowledge of children’s rights and have personal traits that make him/her especially suitable for this task. The representative is free of charge for you.

3. Visiting ban
A visiting ban means that the person threatening and harassing you will be forbidden to visit you, follow after you or contact you in any other way, such as by letter, text message, telephone or through friends or come near your home, place of work or any other place you normally visit. A visiting ban can also be imposed on a person who lives together with you but only if there is a tangible risk of crimes that threaten your life, health, freedom or integrity. It is the prosecutor who decides whether to impose a visiting ban. If the prosecutor decides not to impose a visiting ban, you may request the district court to review the decision. A person who violates a visiting ban may be sentenced to pay a fine or to imprisonment for up to one year.

4. Restricted access
If you need to keep your address secret to avoid threats and other kinds of harassment, you may request the Tax Agency to restrict access to your personal data stored in the National Population Register as well as in all other official registers updated via the National Population Register (the Motor Vehicle Register, the Driving Licences Register, etc.) If you move, you may also apply to the Tax Agency, to remain registered under your old address in the National Population Register. It is important that you inform all authorities you have contact with that public access to your personal data is restricted.
Last update: 16/07/2018

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