Victims' rights - by country

As a victim of a crime you can benefit from a number of rights, and assistance from national authorities and organisations to advise and help you. These factsheets provide you with a range of information on what you can expect in every country in the European Union.

If you have suffered a crime, of course you will need to think about whether to report it. You may feel reluctant to do this, or worried about it, but if you do not report it, a police investigation is much less likely and the person who committed the crime is unlikely to be brought to account. Reporting the crime may also be important for your own practical reasons such as making an insurance claim.

You may have access to some rights whether you report the crime or not. However, once you have reported the crime you can benefit from a range of rights and additional support which might not otherwise be available to you. These will help to ensure that you can take full part in the proceedings and that you understand what is happening. They also aim at making the process as easy as possible for you.

When you report the crime to the police or as soon as possible thereafter, you might wish to check carefully what specific role(s) you may have in the proceedings - as victim, witness, civil claimant, civil party, private prosecutor, etc.   These roles vary from one country to another and some of them have rights attached to them that may be important later on in the process, for example with regard to whether or not you as a victim can appeal the outcome of a trial. Take note of the roles and deadlines as you read through these factsheets. Check with the police what roles exist and what deadlines – if any - you must respect to get the respective status. You may ask the authorities for clarifications in order to decide how best to protect your rights and legal interests.

Once you have reported a crime, authorities will work to bring justice to you and others. As part of this process, they may require your active cooperation until and perhaps after the end of the criminal proceedings if there is a prosecution. You have an important role in these proceedings and your assistance is very much appreciated.

The police will begin their investigation to establish enough evidence to prosecute the person who committed the crime. If the person is prosecuted and found guilty the judge will also determine the appropriate penalty for the offender.

As a victim, you have a number of legally guaranteed rights within or outside the criminal proceedings. In addition, some of your rights may extend to your family members and relatives. The European Union has taken steps to guarantee a minimum set of rights and certain standards along which Member States should align their laws.

The following factsheets will guide you through the most important steps of criminal proceedings in each Member State, explaining the rights you have and the basic rules you need to follow to exercise them. This information is not a substitute for legal advice and is intended to be for guidance only.

Please select the relevant country's flag to obtain detailed national information.

Any reference in these fact sheets to a person of the male sex shall be deemed also to constitute a reference to a person of the female sex, and vice versa, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

Last update: 18/01/2019

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Please note that the original language version of this page Dutch has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
Please note that the following languages have already been translated.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Belgium

You will be considered a victim of a crime if you have suffered damage, for example if you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, as a result of an incident that constitutes a crime under domestic law. As a crime victim you have certain individual legal rights before, during and after the criminal proceedings.

Criminal proceedings in Belgium are divided into investigation and trial stages. In most cases the investigation is directed by the public prosecutor or – in certain cases that are more complex – by an investigating judge. During the investigation, evidence is gathered to establish whether a crime has been committed and by whom.

Once the investigation has finished, the case is either closed or referred to a court for trial. During the trial the court will examine the body of evidence and determine whether the accused is guilty or not. If the accused is found guilty, a sentence may be imposed. However, the court can also find the person not guilty and acquit them.

As a victim you have a number of rights at all stages of the criminal proceedings. If you want to take a more active part in the proceedings, you can ask to be registered as an injured party, or you can bring a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings. Under certain circumstances you can initiate criminal proceedings yourself by directly summoning the perpetrator or by lodging a complaint with the investigating judge and at the same time applying to be treated as a civil party. As a civil party you can claim compensation from the offender. Subject to a number of conditions being met (for example, if you are the victim of a violent crime and the damage cannot be made good by the perpetrator or by an insurer), you may be eligible for compensation from the State.

The following factsheets will take you through the different steps of the procedure, describing your rights Link opens in new windowduring the investigation of the crimeLink opens in new windowduring the trial or Link opens in new windowafter the first trial. Also, read more about the Link opens in new windowhelp and support you can get.

Last update: 27/02/2015

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Dutch has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
Please note that the following languages have already been translated.

1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

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

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

You can report a crime to the local police, preferably in the area where the crime has taken place. In an emergency you can always telephone 112 to contact the police. In non-emergency situations you can go to the nearest police station. The addresses of police stations are listed on the website of the local police force in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench.

If you are a Belgian citizen or a Belgian resident (e.g. you have been granted permanent residence in Belgium), you can report some petty crimes (e.g. vandalism, shoplifting and theft of a bicycle) online in Link opens in new windowDutch, Link opens in new windowFrench or Link opens in new windowGerman. In addition, anybody, including tourists, can report internet-related crime online via a dedicated website which is available in Link opens in new windowDutch, Link opens in new windowFrench, Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish.

A few offences can be prosecuted only if the victim files a complaint (e.g. stalking, defamation and libel).

You do not have to report the crime immediately, but it is in your interest to do so to enable the police to have detailed information about the facts and circumstances of the crime and any damage or injury that you have suffered as soon as possible. You should also bear in mind that after a certain period of time it will no longer be possible for the authorities to prosecute. This time bar or period of limitation is specified by law and varies according to the crime, ranging from six months to fifteen years.

The police will interview you and draw up an official report. During the interview you have a number of rights which continue to apply if you make another statement later on. Whether you are interviewed as a victim or as a witness, the police officer must explain to you before the interview that:

  • you can request that all questions and answers be recorded in your own words;
  • you can request the performance of a specific investigative step or the questioning of a specific person;
  • your statements may be used as evidence in court;
  • you can receive a copy of the record of your interview free of charge. You must ask for the copy at the end of the interview. In most cases you will receive your copy immediately.

If you speak a language other than that in which the proceedings are carried out, the police will provide a professional interpreter, unless the police officer can write your statement in your language or asks you to write your statement in your language yourself.

Your statement will be included in the official report which may include the following information:

  • your name, address, telephone number and any e-mail address;
  • details about the crime – who was involved in the crime, where, when and what happened, what are the consequences for you;
  • the contact details of any witnesses;
  • a description of the people involved, including height, build and clothing. Information such as age, hair colour and style, accent, and any distinguishing features like warts, scars, tattoos or birthmarks is also very useful;
  • any injuries you have sustained (a physician can write you a medical certificate which you can give to the police even several days after you have made the initial report); you can also ask your physician for a declaration that you are unfit to work;
  • any other (physical) damage to property you have suffered (it is useful to take pictures of any damage).

In your statement you can also indicate whether you need any type of practical, social, psychological or legal assistance.

You should provide the police with copies of any documents, as you may need the original documents later on, for example if you contact your insurance company.

If you are a victim of sexual violence, your interview will whenever possible take place in a special room that offers the necessary privacy.

In most cases the police will send the official report (proces-verbaal/procès-verbal) to the public prosecution service (parket/parquet). The public prosecutor will then decide whether the police have to open an investigation or not. This investigation may be conducted either by the public prosecutor (procureur des Konings/procureur du Roi) (a standard investigation (opsporingsonderzoek/enquête pénale)) or in more complicated cases, or where more intrusive measures such as house searches are needed, by an investigating judge (judicial investigation (gerechtelijk onderzoek/instruction judiciaire)). In some cases the police can decide to conduct an investigation on their own authority and send a complete file to the public prosecution service for further action (police investigation (ambtshalve politioneel onderzoek/enquête policière d'office)). For a number of petty crimes (such as theft of a bicycle), and depending on the circumstances (e.g. if there is no trace of the perpetrator) the police will draw up a simplified official report (vereenvoudigd proces-verbaal (VPV)/procès-verbal simplifié)). This simplified official report will remain at the police station and will not be forwarded to the public prosecution service. Every month a list of all the simplified official reports which have been drawn up will be forwarded to the public prosecutor, and he or she will therefore be made aware of your case. If any new information comes to light which may have an impact on the case (for example, if the perpetrator of a crime is identified), the official report will be forwarded to the public prosecutor and the police will inform you accordingly.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

After you report a crime you will receive a certificate. On this certificate you can find your reference number, the name of the police officer who helped you the first time and contact details of the prosecution office, which you can contact to follow up on your case.

On your certificate you will clearly see whether your case will be handled as an official report (this means that the report is sent to the prosecution office, where the public prosecutor will decide whether the crime needs further investigation), a police investigation or a simplified official report.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

In the event of prosecution, if you have not taken any further steps beyond making your report to the police, you will be informed by the public prosecutor only of the date, time and place of the court hearing.

If you wish to receive information about any other action taken in respect of your report you have the legal right to register as an injured party (benadeelde persoon/personne lésée). You can submit a declaration that you are an injured party, either personally or through a lawyer, to the police officer drawing up the official report, or to the secretariat of the public prosecution service, or at the police station, or by sending a registered letter to the secretariat of the public prosecution service. You will also receive a template for making such a declaration when you receive the document confirming you have made a report.

As an injured party you will receive information in writing about the decisions taken by the public prosecutor (for example, a decision to close the case and the reasons for this, or a decision to start a judicial investigation) and the date of any hearing before an examining court. You will also have the right to add any document that you deem useful to the file. You will additionally have the right to request access to the file and to obtain a copy of it.

If you want to make a claim for damages, or obtain further rights, you must enter a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings1 (burgerlijke partij/partie civile). You can do so by submitting an express declaration to that effect personally or through your lawyer at any stage of the proceedings. As a civil party you can request access to the case file and obtain a copy of it, ask for additional investigative steps to be taken, claim damages, bring legal challenges against the decisions reached, and be consulted and informed regarding the imprisonment of the offender.

As a civil party to the criminal proceedings or as an injured party you will have the right to be represented by a lawyer in your contacts with the authorities. Investigations are confidential in Belgium, and it is not possible for you to be present during the investigation (e.g. for the questioning of the suspect), except where there is a visit to the scene of the crime in order to carry out a reconstruction, in which case a civil party may be present.

You are not required to prove either the occurrence of the crime or the guilt of the perpetrator yourself.

It is not possible to have your loss or damage reimbursed at this stage of the criminal proceedings.

Once the official report has been forwarded to the public prosecution service and prosecution has started, you can no longer stop the criminal proceedings. This is so even where the offence can be prosecuted only if reported by the victim, which is the case with stalking for example.

What are my rights as a witness?

During the investigation you are likely to be interviewed as a witness.

As a witness you (as well as your family members and relatives) can benefit from the following witness protection measures:

  • advise on preventive measures and help in installing preventive tools;
  • preventive police patrols;
  • registration of incoming and outgoing telephone calls;
  • provision of a secret telephone number, protected license plate for your car, mobile phone for emergency calls;
  • physical protection; and
  • relocation for a maximum of 45 days.

If you have suffered from a crime committed by a criminal organisation or from a serious offence such as the kidnapping of a minor, arson or murder and the measures listed above are not sufficient, special protection measures can be granted. These include (also applying to family members and relatives):

  • relocation for more than 45 days; and
  • change of identity.

Reimbursement may be available for any travel and accommodation expenses incurred as a result of acting as a witness in the criminal proceedings. Witnesses can also apply for half-day compensation for time missed from work. These costs are paid by the state budget, but will have to be reimbursed by the defendant if found guilty.

When you have been granted a protection measure or if you are not in the country, you can be interviewed by videoconference or tele-conference by the public prosecutor or the investigating judge.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 18 years of age and you are the victim of a crime, you have the following additional rights during the interview:

  • to be accompanied by an adult of your own choice; and
  • to have your interview performed in a suitable room.

To prevent you from being interviewed several times your interview may be recorded or videotaped. If you are under the age of 12 your interview may be recorded on video; you must be informed beforehand. If you are older than 12 your interview may be recorded on video only if you give your permission. These interviews take place in specifically equipped rooms.

Where you have been the victim of sexual abuse, prostitution or pornography, the period of limitation after which the case can no longer be prosecuted does not start running until you have reached the age of 18.

If you are a victim of crime and a minor, the police will also refer you to a specialist centre for victims of child abuse.

You will also be shielded against disclosure of your identity in the media, that is to say that the publication or dissemination of pictures, drawings and other materials that may reveal your identity will be forbidden.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

The police will give you information about:

  • the type of services or organisations which you can turn to for support;
  • the procedures that will be followed after you have made your report;
  • the requirements for obtaining damages.

This information can be provided in leaflets and brochures or verbally. The brochures are available in the three official languages (Link opens in new windowDutch, Link opens in new windowFrench and Link opens in new windowGerman). In practice, information given verbally may also be provided in other languages (e.g. English).

It is important to know that you will be kept informed of certain developments in your case only if you have registered as an injured party or have made a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings1. These are as follows:

  • a decision by the public prosecutor to close your case and the reason for this decision;
  • a decision by the public prosecutor to refer your case to an investigating judge for a judicial investigation;
  • a decision by the public prosecutor to propose an amicable agreement or mediation to the offender; and
  • the date your case will appear before a court.
  • As an injured party or civil party to the proceedings you will additionally have the right to request access to the file and to obtain a copy of it. This request must be addressed to the public prosecution service or to the investigating judge during the investigation.

You are allowed to make copies of the file, but you will be charged a fee for each copy (around 0.25 to 0.50 euros per copy). However, if your case is being handled by the assize court (hof van assisen/cour d'assises), copies are free of charge.

Can I receive legal aid?

For initial guidance you can ask for frontline legal assistance (juridische eerstelijnsbijstand/aide juridique de première ligne), in which lawyers provide free legal advice at certain times on certain days. Where necessary they can refer you to a specialist service or organisation. Consultation are organised in court buildings, civil magistrates' courts (vredegerecht/justice de paix), law centres and some municipal administrations, etc. You can find a law centre (justitiehuis/maison de justice) in every judicial district (their contact details are available in Link opens in new windowFrench and Link opens in new windowDutch) or you can contact one of the victim support services.

For detailed legal advice, assistance and representation, you need to enlist the services of a lawyer. Depending on your income this may be wholly or partially free of charge, through the secondline legal assistance system (juridische tweedelijnsbijstand/aide juridique de deuxième ligne). A number of categories of persons in specific situations, such as minors or persons with a mental disability, are always entitled to free legal representation.

For second‑line legal assistance you need to go to a Legal Aid Office (bureau voor juridische bijstand/bureau d’aide juridique) (details in Link opens in new windowFrench and Link opens in new windowDutch), which is present in every court building. You will have to produce documentation showing either that you belong to one of the special categories or that you are on a low net income. The Office will decide within a fortnight whether to approve your application and send you the contact details of your assigned lawyer. It is also possible to ask a lawyer of your choosing whether he or she is willing to work under the second-line legal assistance arrangements. If the lawyer agrees to this, he or she will contact the Office on your behalf in order to seek approval for your application.

If your financial means are modest, under certain circumstances you can ask to be exempted from a number of procedural costs (e.g. bailiff's costs and the costs of copies from the book of evidence) under the legal aid (rechtsbijstand/assistance judiciaire) arrangements. To benefit you need to submit a request to the Legal Aid Office of the criminal court handling the case. If you are already a civil party to the criminal proceedings you can submit this request, in writing or verbally, to the criminal court handling the case.

You are also advised to check your insurance policies closely to see whether you have legal expenses insurance. Contact your insurance broker.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

If you are in danger the police will ensure your immediate physical protection. Physical protection is possible also for you as a witness if you are in danger as a consequence of statements you have made during the investigation and are willing to confirm your statement in court. In this case the public prosecutor or the investigating judge can send an application to the special Commission on Witness Protection when they deem protection measures are necessary.

If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault you will be protected against media coverage: the publication or spread of pictures, drawings and other materials that reveal your identity.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and you are afraid to return home the police will provide you (and your children) with a safe shelter.

You can also ask the police officer not to include your official details in the official report. Although the police are bound to give such details to the prosecution officer if requested.

In very threatening situations for you or a person related to you the investigating judge can grant you full or partial anonymity (the police does not have any authority in this matter) when certain conditions are met. You also have the right to ask for anonymity yourself. If the investigating judge rejects your request you cannot appeal against this decision.

Partial anonymity means that your identity will not be revealed in the official record of the interview of the hearing and is only possible if there is an investigation led either by an investigating judge or by the public prosecutor.

Full anonymity means that your identity will be kept secret during the whole criminal proceedings and is only possible if:

  • there is a judicial investigation by the investigating judge;
  • the provision of partial anonymity is not sufficient to protect you;
  • you feel that by making a statement you will cause yourself and your relatives danger and you indicate that for this reason you do not want to make a statement; and
  • the crime is committed by a criminal organisation or is a serious one (e.g. kidnapping of minors, arson, murder, etc.)

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

All employees of the police force and the judicial authorities are obliged to provide you with any necessary information and, where appropriate, to refer you to specialist services. There are various specialist services which offer assistance to victims. During and even after the criminal proceedings you can request the following services:

  • The police offer initial reception, practical assistance, information, preparation of official reports, and referral to the appropriate services. When the attending police officer is unable to offer optimal support to you (e.g. in emergency or very serious situations) the specialist police victim services (politionele slachtofferbejegening/assistance policière aux victimes) can step in to provide the necessary support.
  • The victim reception offices (slachtofferonthaal/accueil des victimes) at the law centre can give you specialist information about your case. There is a law centre in every judicial district (their contact details are available in Link opens in new windowFrench in Link opens in new windowDutch). This office can provide you with the necessary support and assistance throughout the entire legal proceedings. If necessary, and depending on the problem, the staff at the victim reception office will refer you to more specialised services. The staff at the victim reception office can support you during emotionally difficult moments in the proceedings, and provide help with access to your file, assistance during the court hearing, help with the return of documentary evidence, or support during a reconstruction of the crime. They can also help you to draw up a victim statement for use with regard to the application of the sentence.
  • The victim support services (diensten slachtofferhulp/services d'assistance aux victimes) provide further assistance to deal with the consequences of the crime: emotional and psychological support, information (on your rights, reparation of loss, the trial and the availability of legal assistance) together with assistance in contacting various institutions (such as insurance companies, the police, the judicial authorities, lawyers, hospitals, etc.). Usually you are referred to these services by the police or the judicial assistants but you can also contact them yourself.

Access to all of these services is free of charge and completely voluntary.

If you are a victim of human trafficking various private specialist services can provide support. Coordination and cooperation between these services is provided by the Link opens in new windowCentre for Equal Opportunities and the Prevention of Racism (Centrum voor Gelijkheid van Kansen en voor Racismebestrijding/Centre pour l’Egalité des chances et la lutte contre le racisme ). You will also be eligible for a number of special arrangements on residence and work permits if you are granted protection as a victim of human trafficking2.

You can receive medical assistance, but you may be asked to pay for it unless you have valid health insurance (although you may include these costs in your claim for compensation). Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card.

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

Mediation is possible at all stages of the criminal proceedings: at the police stage (mediation at police level); at the level of the municipalities (mediation in connection with administrative penalties); at the level of the public prosecution service, before a decision on prosecution is taken (mediation in criminal cases) and after the public prosecution service has decided to prosecute (restorative mediation). Restorative mediation is also possible during and after the application of the sentence.

Mediation is available for all types of crimes. The public prosecutor, the investigating judge and the trial judge must inform you of the possibilities for mediation. You can also request mediation yourself.

Mediation at police level (politionele schadebemiddeling/médiation policière) is offered in cases of petty offences (e.g. graffiti, minor thefts, and vandalism) in order to settle the property damage. This type of mediation is available in the police districts of Leuven, Mechelen and Brussels. Mediation takes place before the official report is sent to the public prosecution service. The public prosecutor is informed of the results of the mediation exercise, and if an agreement has been reached the case is usually closed.

Mediation in connection with administrative penalties3 provided before imposing an administrative penalty. It is mandatory when the offender is under 16 years of age. The mediation aims primarily at reimbursement of the damage caused and is carried out by local authority officials.

Mediation in criminal cases (bemiddeling in strafzaken/médiation pénale) may be proposed by the public prosecutor where he or she believes that the crime is punishable by a maximum of two years' imprisonment. This type of mediation takes place before a decision to prosecute the offender is taken, and is carried out by staff of the law centre. As a victim of an offence your main interest will be mediation aimed at reimbursement of your damage. The public prosecutor may propose one or more additional measures to be taken in respect of the offender (psychological treatment or therapy, training, or the provision of services). If an agreement is reached between the offender and the victim over reparation of damage, and if the offender has complied with any additional measures imposed, the prosecution will be dropped (which means that the public prosecutor will no longer be able to bring the case to court). If the offender does not comply with the conditions, the case may be referred to court. Mediation of this kind requires your cooperation, and if you do not agree to cooperate the case will be returned to the public prosecutor, who will take a fresh decision on whether or not to prosecute.

Restorative mediation (herstelbemiddeling/médiation réparatrice) runs separately from the criminal proceedings and does not replace them. The judicial authorities therefore remain responsible for any decision involving criminal prosecution, sentencing, and the application of sentences. This does not, however, prevent you from initiating mediation at any point in the proceedings, that is before the case comes to court, whilst the case is being dealt with by the court, or after the judge has given sentence. Anyone who is directly affected by a criminal case may request mediation. This means that not only can the victim or a offender request mediation, but also, for example, a partner, a family member or a relative. Restorative mediation is carried out by two non-governmental organisations, Link opens in new windowSuggnomè for the Flemish region and Link opens in new windowMédiante for the Walloon region of the country. They have local sections in each judicial district. An agreement reached as a result of restorative mediation is confidential and is transmitted to the court only with the consent of both parties. The court's judgment must make mention of the restorative mediation, but does not have to take account of the agreement reached.

Mediation is also available in juvenile cases, and restorative mediation is possible both at the level of the public prosecution service and at the level of the juvenile courts themselves. A group conference (herstelgericht groepsoverleg (hergo)/concertation restauratrice en groupe) can be ordered only by the juvenile court. The judge is expected to give priority to a mediation measure (as opposed to sentencing an offender who is a minor), and to inform the parties to the conflict of this possibility. If the restorative mediation exercise results in an agreement between the victim and the offender, the judge must as a rule approve this agreement . The judge is not allowed to change the content of the agreement, but can refuse to recognise the agreement if the content clearly entails some danger to public safety. Mediation and group conferences are organised by local non-governmental organisations active in the sector of juvenile assistance.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

The decisions taken at the end of the investigation differ depending on whether it is a judicial investigation or a standard investigation.

In the standard investigation, the public prosecutor can decide to:

  • close the case;
  • propose an amicable agreement (minnelijke schikking/résolution à l’aimable) to the offender – if the offender accepts the proposal and compensates your damage, the case will be closed;
  • propose mediation in criminal cases (bemiddeling in strafzaken/médiation dans les affaires pénales);
  • send your case to court.

As an injured party or civil party to the criminal proceedings you will be informed of the public prosecutor's decision.

If a judicial investigation occurs the investigating judge must forward the file to the pre‑trial division of the court (raadkamer/chambre du conseil). The court hearings in the pre‑trial division are held in camera: the press and the public may not be present. You and your lawyer may be present, but your friends and family will not be allowed to attend. The pre‑trial division can decide to:

  • close the case, if it considers that there is not enough evidence against the defendant or that no offence has been committed;
  • refer the case to court for trial, if it considers that there is enough evidence to bring the defendant to court;
  • commit the offender to a specialised mental institution if he or she is mentally ill or in a serious state of mental deficiency which makes him or her unable to control his or her acts; in this case the defendant can request a public hearing;
  • suspend judgment: the pre‑trial division can decide to suspend judgment only when the offender has not been previously sentenced to more than six months' imprisonment; it will set a probation period of no more than five years, during which the offender will have to comply with a number of conditions; if he or she reoffends or does not comply with the conditions within the probation period, the court can decide to reopen the case.

If the pre‑trial division decides to commit the suspect to a mental institution or to suspend judgment, its decision is deemed equivalent to the full judgment of a criminal court, and it will also rule on your civil claim for damages.

As an injured party or civil party to the criminal proceedings1, you will be informed of the date of the hearing. If your case is referred to the criminal court, you will also be informed of the date of the hearing.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

You cannot appeal against a decision of the public prosecutor to close the case. Depending on the facts and the circumstances of the case, and the reasons for closing it, it may still be possible to claim damages in the criminal courts (apart from any proceedings before the civil courts):

  • If the offence is a minor offence (contravention/overtreding) or an intermediate offence (délit/wanbedrijf), it is possible to summon the offender to court directly. To do so you must ask a bailiff to serve a summons on the offender.
  • You can also lodge a criminal complaint with the investigating judge, and make a claim as as a civil party to the criminal proceedings1; the judge is then obliged to initiate a judicial investigation. In order to do so, you must expressly declare to the investigating judge that you are making a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings. This may be done verbally or in writing. The investigating judge draws up an official report confirming that you are a civil party to the proceedings. You should be aware that in this case the investigating judge may require you to lodge a security to cover the cost of the proceedings. The amount of this payment is set by the judge. You should also be aware that the pre‑trial division of the court may still at the end of the investigation decide not to refer the case for trial if, for example, there is not not enough evidence against the defendant. At the trial you must confirm your status as a civil party to the proceedings.

You cannot summon the offender directly to court, nor lodge a complaint as a civil party to the criminal proceedings, if the offender is a minor.

As a civil party to criminal proceedings1, you can appeal against all decisions of the pre‑trial division, including any decision not to prosecute the defendant, before the indictment division of the court of appeal (Kamer van inbeschuldigingstelling/Chambre des mises en accusation). You cannot appeal against the decision of the indictment division, nor can you subsequently summon the offender to court yourself.

If a decision on damages is taken by the pre‑trial division (where the offender is committed to a mental institution or where judgment is suspended) you can appeal with regard to the damages awarded, but not against the criminal judgment. You have to appeal within fifteen days (or three days when the offender is in pre‑trial custody) at the registry office of the court. The indictment division of the court of appeal will then review your claim for damages.

If, for whatever reason, you did not take part in the criminal proceedings, you can choose to pursue a claim in the civil courts. This possibility is also open to you if the public prosecutor's office decides not to proceed with the criminal case. You bring the civil claim before the civil court by summoning the person who has caused the damage, unless all parties are willing to appear voluntarily. Where an insurer is involved (after a traffic accident, for example) you may also summon the insurer. Procedure in the civil courts differs fundamentally from criminal procedure. If you want to bring a claim in the civil court (burgerlijke rechtbank/tribunal civil) (for example if you were not involved in the criminal proceedings or if your case was closed), you must be prepared to prove that the wrongful act has been committed. If criminal proceedings are in progress the civil court has to suspend the proceedings before it pending the judgment of the criminal court. The civil court is bound by the findings in the criminal case. Bringing a claim before the civil courts will also incur costs.

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

If you are a foreigner who has suffered from a crime in Belgium you can benefit from all the rights explained above as well as some additional rights aimed to facilitate your participation in the procedure.

You have the right to ask for an interpreter free of charge when you do not speak the official language. It is also possible that you write your statement yourself (or that the police officer writes down your statement). If you are not in the country the public prosecutor or the investigating judge can interview you by videoconference or teleconference.

If you are an asylum seeker you can ask for the appointment of a lawyer free of charge.

More information:

  • The Constitution – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • The Judicial Code – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • The Law on the police force of 5 August 1992 – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • The Law on State compensation of 1 August 1985 – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • The Law on suspension of judgment, postponement of the application of sentences and probation of 29 June 1964 in Link opens in new windowDutch
  • Circular GPI 58 of 4 May 2007 on the treatment of victims in the integrated police force, structured on two levels – in Dutch
  • Circular of the College of Prosecutors-General COL 5/2009 concerning the use of uniform certificates of complaint, guidelines on handing over these certificates by the police and the modification of COL 8/2005, revised version of 20 December 2012.
  • Circular of 26 September 2008 on the introduction of multidisciplinary cooperation relating to human trafficking of victims and/or victims of serious forms of human smuggling – in Link opens in new windowDutch
  • Circular COL 16/2012 of 12 November 2012 - Joint Circular from the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Home Affairs and the College of Prosecutors-General concerning the reception of victims by at the public prosecution services and courts
  • Circular COL 17/2012 of 12 November 2012 - Joint Circular from the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Home Affairs and the College of Prosecutors-General concerning the respectful handling of the deceased, the notification of death, respectful leave‑taking and cleaning up the scene of the crime in cases where the judicial authorities are involved.
  • Circular COL 18/2012 of December 2012 - Joint Circular from the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Home Affairs and the College of Prosecutors-General concerning temporary bans on entering the home in the event of domestic violence
  • Royal Decree of 18 December 2003 on the conditions for partial or completely free second‑line legal assistance and legal aid – inLink opens in new windowDutch
  • Royal Decree of 16 May 2004 on combating human trafficking and smuggling – in Link opens in new windowDutch
  • Royal Decree of 13 June 1999 on the organisation of the Law Centres Department of the Ministry of Justice – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • Royal Decree of 28 December 1950 laying down the general rules on legal costs in criminal cases
  • Cooperation agreement of 7 April 1998 between the State and the Flemish Community on victim care – in Link opens in new windowDutch
  • Protocol Agreement of 5 June 2009 between the State, the Flemish Community, the French Community, the French Community Committee and the Joint Community Committee on Victim Care - in Dutch and French
  • Protocol Agreement of 5 June 2009 between the State, the French Community and the Walloon Region on Victim Care – in Dutch and French
  • Protocol Agreement of 5 June 2009 between the State and the German-speaking Community on Victim Care – in Dutch, French and German
Notes:
1. Civil party to criminal proceedings
You can bring a civil claim before the criminal court at any time during the criminal proceedings even if you have not lodged a police complaint. In addition to the ordinary rights of a victim, your status as a civil party to the criminal proceedings then also confers the right:
  • to request damages;
  • to be heard by the court;
  • to have costs reimbursed at the end of proceedings; and
  • to request an interpreter during court proceedings;
  • if your civil action is deemed admissible and well founded, you also receive a number of rights in the criminal proceedings without having to submit an application for recognition as a victim to the court for the application of sentences.
You can register as a civil party to the criminal proceedings via an express declaration if the proceedings have already been launched by the public prosecutor's office. You can do this at any stage during the investigation and the actual trial, but it is no longer possible at the appeal stage. If the offence is a minor offence (contravention/overtreding) or an intermediate offence (délit/wanbedrijf), you can lodge a civil claim before the investigating judge, who is then obliged to launch a criminal investigation. Bear in mind that at the end of the investigation the pre-trial chamber is still free to decide that there is insufficient evidence to bring the alleged offender to court.
If you wish to obtain damages, you will need to prove the damage you have suffered. The court will assess whether your application is admissible and either admit or dismiss it.
As a civil party to the criminal proceedings, you are entitled to bring the matter before the indictment division of the court of appeal if the criminal investigation is still ongoing one year after it began. This option gives you indirect control over the investigation's progress.
2. Protection as a victim of human trafficking
Since the beginning of the 1990s Belgium has offered victims of human trafficking a system of resident status. The following categories of victims are entitled to the status of 'victim of human trafficking':
  • victims of human trafficking (i.e. trafficking for the purpose of various forms of sexual exploitation, exploitation of begging, economic exploitation, removal of organs, forced criminal acts);
  • victims of human smuggling (i.e. assisting illegal immigration with a view to profit) when there are aggravating circumstances. Victims who are subject to violence or whose life is in danger are entitled to this status.
Recognition as a victim of human trafficking makes you eligible for special arrangements regarding residence and work permits, if you:
  • break off contact with the suspected offenders;
  • accept the mandatory assistance offered by an approved centre specialising in providing reception facilities and assisting trafficked persons;
  • cooperate with the judicial authorities by making a statement or lodging a complaint.
3. Administrative penalties
Administrative penalties are imposed by local authorities and are not criminal penalties. Local authorities have the power to punish certain petty offences and nuisances by means of administrative sanctions (fines, closure of buildings or premises, or suspension of permits or licences). The municipality may impose these penalties for violation of its regulations, certain forms of vandalism, etc. Prosecution does not depend directly on the public prosecutor.
Last update: 27/02/2015

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Dutch has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
Please note that the following languages have already been translated.

2 - My rights during the trial

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 offender or receive compensation from the state?

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

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

More information

How can I be involved in the trial?

As a civil party (1) or a registered victim you will be notified by letter of the date your case will appear before a court. It is still possible for you to register yourself as a civil party during the trial until the closure of the debates and to claim compensation before the judge.

If you do not have a lawyer and you wish to present your civil claim during the hearing you have to:

  • be on time;
  • sign up with the court officer and ask if this is the room where the hearing will take place;
  • go to the presiding judge when you hear the judge calling the name of the offender from whom you want to claim compensation;
  • give your claim to the judge together with all the documents certifying your damage;
  • give a copy of the claim to the lawyer of the offender;
  • keep the original documents for yourself;
  • the presiding judge may ask you for additional information and will then make a decision as regards your request for compensation.

In principle the trial is public and every person who is older then 14 years of age can attend the court hearings. So your friends, neighbours and family (as well as members of the press and public) are allowed to be present at the trial. Only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. sexual offences) will the hearings be non-public and civilians and the press will be banned from the courtroom. To attend these hearings you need to be a civil party. The final judgement of the case is always pronounced in public.

If you submit a claim for compensation (civil claim) you do have to prove the damage you suffered. Your civil claim will be assessed by the court. You need to prove the claim during the trial proceedings; thereupon the court will admit or reject the claim.

If you are a civil party you need to be present at the court hearings. If you want to avoid direct contact with the defendant your lawyer can represent you (there is however no possibility to refuse the presence of the defendant in the court room). The only time that you have to attend in person is when you are called as a witness.

You cannot discuss the case with the prosecutor and you cannot make a victim impact statement.

What are my rights as a witness?

When you have given evidence as a witness during the criminal investigations you may not, or only very seldom, be questioned during the court hearings, except for the Assize Court (2).

When you are called in person and when you have been granted a protection measure and/or are not in the country you can be interviewed by videoconference or teleconference. If necessary, there is a possibility for voice alteration and concealment of your face.

If you are called to court as a witness you can request reimbursement for your travel and accommodation expenses. You can also get a half-day compensation for taking days off. You have to ask for this compensation yourself. The judge will grant you this compensation when pronouncing the judgment. These costs are paid by the state budget, but will have to be reimbursed by the defendant if found guilty.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a minor you are protected against media coverage: the publication or spread of pictures, drawings and other materials that reveal your identity.

If an audiovisual recording of your interview has been done during the investigation your personal appearance is not required unless the court finds it necessary to establish the truth. In this case the court will ask you to attend and will explain the reasons thereof. You can ask the judge to hold a non-public hearing behind closed doors. The law expressly provides for this if you are a victim of a sexual crime like rape or sexual assault. The court may also hold a non-public hearing if it is necessary for protecting the interest of a minor or the private lives of the parties.

Can I receive legal aid?

If you have brought a civil claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings, you can choose to attend the session yourself or opt for legal representation.

For initial legal advice, you can consult the front-line legal assistance team (aide juridique de première ligne/juridische eerstelijnsbijstand), whose lawyers provide free advice at certain times on specific days and can refer you to specialist services where appropriate. Consultations are organised in court buildings, civil magistrates' courts, law centres, municipal administrations, and so on. Law centres (maisons de justice/justitiehuizen) can be found in any judicial district (contact details available in Link opens in new windowFrench or Link opens in new windowDutch), or you can get in touch with a victim support service.

For detailed legal advice, assistance and representation, you need to enlist the services of a lawyer. Depending on your income, some or all of this assistance may be provided free of charge under second-line legal assistance arrangements. A number of categories of persons in specific situations, such as minors or persons with a mental disability, are always entitled to free legal representation.

If you want to apply for second-line assistance, you need to contact the Link opens in new windowLegal Aid Office (Bureau d'Aide Juridique/Bureau voor Juridische Bijstand) which is located in every court building. You will have to produce documentation showing either that you belong to one of the special categories or that you are on a low net income. The Office will decide within a fortnight whether to approve your application and send you the contact details of your assigned lawyer. It is also possible to ask a lawyer of your choosing whether he or she is willing to work under the second-line legal assistance arrangements. If the lawyer agrees to this, he or she will contact the Office on your behalf in order to seek approval for your application.

If your financial means are modest, under certain circumstances you can ask to be exempted from a number of procedural costs (e.g. bailiff's costs and the costs of copies from the book of evidence) under the legal aid arrangements. To benefit you need to submit a request to the Legal Aid Office of the criminal court handling the case. If you are already a civil party to the criminal proceedings (see below) you can submit this request, in writing or verbally, to the criminal court handling the case.

You are also advised to check your insurance policies closely to see whether you have legal expenses insurance. Contact your insurance broker.

During the court proceedings, you can be aided by the staff of a law centre or a victim support service.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

When you are in danger and you have been granted partial or full anonymity by the investigation judge during the investigation stage, at the trial you can be interviewed by videoconference or teleconference. If necessary, there is a possibility for voice alteration and concealment of your face.

When you need to appear before the court as a witness and have not been interviewed during the investigation the judge can order that your identity must not be revealed in the official record of the hearing.

If you have suffered from sexual assault or rape you are protected against media coverage: the publication or spread of pictures, drawings or other materials that reveal your identity.

If the defendant is not taken into custody during the investigation and you feel concerned about possibility to stand face to face with the defendant while waiting for your case to be handled, you can contact a justice assistant. In some courthouses separate waiting rooms have been installed in order to give you the opportunity to avoid direct contact with the defendant.

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

If you want to seek financial compensation at the criminal trial, you need to bring a civil claim in the criminal proceedings. Your claim can list all kinds of damage suffered, such as physical injuries and related medical costs, moral damage, material damage (e.g. loss of earnings, the repeat of a study year, loss of employment and damage to vehicles or clothing), funeral expenses, etc.

If the offender is found guilty the criminal court will rule on your civil claim and find that you are entitled to damages. The court will then evaluate the content of the damages claim.

If, for whatever reason, you did not take part in the criminal proceedings, you can choose to pursue a claim in the civil courts. This possibility is also open to you if the public prosecutor's office decides not to proceed with the criminal case. You bring the civil claim before the civil court by summoning the person who has caused the damage, unless all parties are willing to appear voluntarily. Where an insurer is involved (after a traffic accident, for example) you may also summon the insurer. Procedure in the civil courts differs fundamentally from criminal procedure. For instance, you yourself must prove that the opposing party is liable for your damage, though you may do this by producing copies of evidence from the criminal case, even if the proceedings were discontinued. If criminal proceedings are in progress the civil court has to suspend the proceedings before it pending the judgment of the criminal court. The civil court is bound by the findings in the criminal case. Remember that launching a claim before the civil court also entails costs.

If the public prosecutor has moved for a criminal action to be dropped (amicable settlement or mediation in criminal cases), this is another way for you to obtain compensation from the offender. You can also obtain damages from the offender through mediation. For instance, in most cases you will receive damages if the public prosecutor proposes mediation in criminal cases or an amicable settlement to the offender.

It is not always possible to obtain damages from the offender (for instance, it may be that the offender cannot be identified or detained), or to recover compensation in full from an insurer. If you have been the victim of a premeditated violent crime, under certain circumstances you can obtain compensation from the State. For more information about possible compensation from the State, please consult the European Legal Network's information pages on compensation for victims in Belgium (available in Link opens in new windowFrench, Link opens in new windowDutch, Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish and in other languages).

If the accused is found guilty, he or she must repay the costs of your civil action, which will include a share of your lawyer's fees. The court sets the relevant compensation figure when it gives its judgment in the case.

If the proceedings began because you summoned the accused directly or initiated criminal proceedings by lodging a criminal complaint with a civil claim, and the accused is then found not guilty, the court can order you to repay all or a specified proportion of the costs incurred by the State and by the accused.

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

You can ask for restorative mediation (médiation réparatrice/herstelbemiddeling) at any time during proceedings: before a case goes to court, while the court is handling it, and after the court has passed sentence. Restorative mediation runs separate from the criminal proceedings and does not replace them. The judicial authorities therefore remain responsible for any decision involving criminal prosecution, sentencing, and the application of sentences.

Restorative mediation is not performed by the State but by two non-profit associations, Link opens in new windowSuggnomè in Flanders and Link opens in new windowMédiante in Wallonia. They have local sections in each judicial district.

An agreement reached as a result of restorative mediation is confidential and is transmitted to the court only with the consent of both parties. The court's judgment must make mention of the restorative mediation, but does not have to take account of the agreement reached.

A judge of the juvenile court can deliver a judgment ordering restorative mediation or a group conference (concertation restauratrice en groupe/hergo).

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

If you as a civil party (1) or witness do not speak the official language of the region where the proceedings take place, an interpreter will be appointed. You cannot have your documents translated free of charge.

More information:

  • Law of 1 August 1985 concerning tax and other measures – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • Law of 8 April 1965 on the protection of young people, the responsibility of minors committing an act constituting a crime and the restoration of the damage caused by this act – in Link opens in new windowDutch
  • Constitution – in Link opens in new windowDutch and Link opens in new windowFrench
  • Code of Criminal Procedure – in Link opens in new windowDutch, Link opens in new windowFrench andLink opens in new windowEnglish
  • Judicial Code – in Link opens in new windowDutch andLink opens in new windowFrench
  • Royal Decree of 28 December 1950 laying down general rules on legal costs for enforcement measures
Notes:

1. Civil party to criminal proceedings
You can bring a civil claim before the criminal court at any time during the criminal proceedings even if you have not lodged a police complaint. In addition to the ordinary rights of a victim, your status as a civil party to the criminal proceedings then also confers the right:
  • to request damages
  • to be heard by the court
  • to have costs reimbursed at the end of proceedings
  • to request an interpreter during court proceedings
  • if your civil action is deemed admissible and well founded, you also receive a number of rights in the criminal proceedings without having to submit an application for recognition as a victim to the court for the application of sentences
You can register as a civil party to the criminal proceedings via an express declaration if the proceedings have already been launched by the public prosecutor's office. You can do this at any stage during the investigation and the actual trial, but it is no longer possible at the appeal stage. If the offence is a minor offence (contravention/overtreding) or an intermediate offence (délit/wanbedrijf), you can lodge a civil claim before the investigating judge, who is then obliged to launch a criminal investigation. Bear in mind that at the end of the investigation the pre-trial chamber is still free to decide that there is insufficient evidence to bring the alleged offender to court.
If you wish to obtain damages, you will need to prove the damage you have suffered. The court will assess whether your application is admissible and either admit or dismiss it.
As a civil party to the criminal proceedings, you are entitled to bring the matter before the court's indictment division if the criminal investigation is still ongoing one year after it began. This option gives you indirect control over the investigation's progress.

2. Assize court
The assize court (contact details available in Dutch and French) is a temporary criminal court that can be convened in any province or in the Brussels district. Assize courts are empowered to deal with all serious crimes (crimes/misdaden, i.e. murder and other serious criminal offences punishable by a custodial sentence of five years to life), political offences, and press offences (save for those which are racist or xenophobic in origin). Unlike a permanent criminal court, the assize court has to be reconstituted for each new case. Its president is a court of appeal judge. The president is assisted by two judges from the court of first instance. The jury is made up of 12 members of the general public, chosen by lot, no more than two thirds of the initial members being of the same sex. Members of the jury must be entitled to vote and enjoy full civil and political rights, they must be aged between 28 and 65, must be able to read and write and must not have any criminal convictions for which they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than four months or to community service of more than 60 hours. The jury alone decides whether the accused is guilty or innocent. To decide the sentence the jury sits together with the professional judges. The judgments of the assize court can be appealed only on points of law to the Court of Cassation.
Last update: 27/02/2015

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Dutch has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
Please note that the following languages have already been translated.

3 - My rights after the (first) trial

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?

If you have entered a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings (partie civile/burgerlijke partij), you can appeal if the court dismisses your claim for damages or if you consider that the compensation awarded is too small. You cannot appeal if the defendant is found not guilty, or if you think the sentence imposed on the defendant is too mild. (The public prosecutor may appeal on those grounds.)

Make up your mind quickly, because in criminal cases any appeal usually has to be entered within 15 days. Appeals have to be submitted at the registry (greffe/griffie) of the court that delivered the contested judgment. You can obtain further information at the registry. If there is an appeal, the case will be considered afresh by a higher court. You will be given notice of times and places. The procedure on appeal is much the same as the procedure at the first trial. You do not have to register a second time as a civil party to the proceedings. But you cannot register as a civil party for the first time when the case has gone to appeal.

A full appeal, on points of fact and law (appel/hoger beroep), cannot be brought against the judgment of an assize court, but an appeal may be brought before the Court of Cassation on points of law only (pourvoi/voorziening).

Is further appeal possible?

A judgment delivered on a full appeal (appel/hoger beroep) is not open to a further full appeal.

A full appeal cannot be brought against the judgment of an assize court, but an appeal on points of law may be brought before the Link opens in new windowCourt of Cassation.

The Court of Cassation will not examine the facts of the case: it merely considers whether there was any breach of proper procedure and whether the law has been wrongly applied or wrongly interpreted. The Court of Cassation can only uphold or quash the judgment. It cannot take further evidence or judge the case afresh. If it does quash the judgment, it refers it back for retrial by another court at the same level as the court that delivered the earlier judgement. The judgment of the Court of Cassation is not binding on the new court.

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

It is important to realise at the outset that as a victim you will not be informed of the court’s judgment automatically (unless you have entered a claim as a civil party to the criminal proceedings). If you or your lawyer were not present when the judgment was delivered in court, you need to contact the authorities yourself or ask the staff of the law centre (maison de justice/justitiehuis) to inform you.

As a victim you can under certain conditions ask to be informed or to be heard regarding the manner in which the sentence is to be served, for example regarding prison leave, limited detention, electronic surveillance, provisional release with a view to deportation or surrender to another country, or conditional release.

If your civil claim is successful, you can under certain conditions ask to be informed or to be heard if the condemned person is granted any special arrangement for the service of the sentence.

Otherwise you can ask to be recognised as a victim by applying to the court for the application of sentences (tribunal d’application des peines/strafuitvoeringsrechtbank). Your request will be accepted if the court decides that you have a legitimate interest.

Under certain conditions you have the following rights as a victim:

  • to be informed of decisions related to the application of the sentence (including initial prison leave, electronic surveillance, conditional leave, etc.);
  • to propose specific conditions that might be imposed on the offender;
  • to be heard in relation to specific conditions that might be imposed on the offender in your interest.

Examples

  • you can ask to be heard by the court for the application of sentences regarding conditions that might be imposed on the offender if electronic surveillance is allowed;
  • you can ask the court to notify you if it grants the offender conditional release;
  • you can ask to be informed if the Minister for Justice grants the offender prison leave.

If you want to exercise any of these rights you must fill in a victim statement form, and hand it in or send it to the registry of the court for the application of sentences or to a justice centre.

At the hearings of the court for the application of sentences you can always be assisted or represented by a lawyer. You can also ask for help from one of the officially recognised victim support organisations, or by a victim support service or the victim reception offices at the court, for example when you are going to attend a court hearing

You can obtain more information from the law centre, from victim reception offices or from your lawyer.

During and after the application of the sentence, whether the offender is serving the sentence in prison or outside it, you can always have recourse to mediation.

More information:

  • Law on the external legal position of persons sentenced to a custodial sentence and on the rights of victims in connection with the manner in which sentences are served – in Link opens in new windowFrench or Dutch.
Notes:

1. Civil Party:
You can register as a civil party before a judge, at any stage of the proceedings, even if you have not reported the crime to the police. This status gives you some additional rights:
  • to become a party in the proceedings;
  • to speak at the court hearing;
  • to be able to claim for compensation before the court;
  • to have your cost reimbursed after the trial; and
  • to have the right of an interpreter free of charge during the proceedings.
You can also join the proceedings that were already put in motion by the public prosecutor through a statement. This remains possible during the whole stage of investigation and before the court, but never in the stage of appeal against a court’s decision. In case of offence punishable by more than eight days of imprisonment you can take an action by filing a report with the investigating judge. The investigating judge is obliged to start a judicial investigation but after the end of the investigation it is still up to the judicial authorities to decide whether enough evidence exists to bring the offender before a court.
If you submit a civil claim you do have to prove the damage you are claiming for. The court will assess the eligibility of your civil claim and will admit or dismiss it.
If you act as a civil party you have if the judicial investigation has not finished - within one year after the initiation, the right to bring the case before the Indictment Chamber of the Court of Appeals. This allows you an indirect form of control over the progress of the investigations.

2. The Assize Court
The Assize Court (contact information available in Dutch and French) in Belgium is sitting in each of the ten provinces and in the judicial districts of Brussels. It has jurisdiction over all crimes punished by more than five years of imprisonment, political offences, press-related offences (except those inspired by racism or xenophobia), and crimes of international law such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Unlike the other courts, which have a permanent structure, the Court of Assize has to be constituted for each specific case. It comprises three professional judges and 12 jurors. The presiding judge is a judge of a court of appeal and is assisted by two judges of courts of first instance. The jury invariably consists of twelve members, who are elected from among all citizens having the right to vote at elections. Members of the jury must be between 28 and 65 years of age and must be able to read and write. The jury alone decides upon the facts of a case, and determines the penalty along with the judge. There is no appeal of verdicts, apart from one before the Court of Cassation.
Last update: 27/02/2015

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Dutch has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
Please note that the following languages have already been translated.

4 - Help and support for victims of crime

Link opens in new windowLocal and Federal Police

Federal Public Service Justice

Link opens in new windowThe Commission for Financial Aid for Victims of Deliberate Acts of Violence

CAW’s

Federation of Services for Help to Parties in Proceedings

Sozial-Psychologischen Zentrum (SPZ)

Child Trust Centres

Federation of SOS Children's Services

Jugendhilfedienst (JHD)

Local and Federal Police

The Local and federal police are under the competence of the Ministry of Interior. The local police are responsible for the basic police duties and operate within the ‘community policing’ philosophy. The federal police are responsible for specialised police tasks.

The Local and federal police

  • receive victims in a polite and respectful manner
  • provide practical assistance to victims of crime, information and referral to appropriate services
  • draw up the official report as to the victim’s identity and their wish to be informed later on in the proceedings
  • take contact with the victim a short time after the complaint was filed.

CONTACTS :

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.ibz.fgov.be/

Federal Public Service Justice

The Federal Public Service for Justice hosts several departments and committees that look after the interests of victims, including the Directorate‑General for Legislation, Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the Directorate‑General for Law Centres.

The Directorate‑General for Legislation, Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

  • prepares and drafts legislation;
  • advises the Minister for Justice and other players, drafts answers to parliamentary questions, and participates in international negotiations;
  • works in close collaboration with other departments, such as the Directorate‑General for Law Centres, and with outside parties.

The Directorate‑General for Justice Centres

  • manages 28 law centres (maisons de justice/justitiehuizen) under the authority of the Minister of Justice (Flanders and Wallonia each have 13 law centres, and Brussels has two, one French-speaking and one Dutch-speaking);
  • in every law centre there are specialised staff forming a victim reception office.

CONTACTS:

Federal Public Service for Justice: website: https://justitie.belgium.be

For the contact details of the law centres click Link opens in new windowhere.

The Commission for Financial Aid for Victims of Deliberate Acts of Violence

The Commission for Financial Aid for Victims of Deliberate Acts of Violence, which has been established by the 1 August 1985 Act, has as core mission to provide State compensation for victims of crime, i.e. financial compensation.

The Commission for Financial Aid for Victims of Deliberate Acts of Violence

  • provides the opportunity for the State to grant financial assistance to victims of intentional acts of violence and, in some cases, for their families
  • also provides a procedure to assist the victims of acts that took place in a member country of the European Union
  • can grant assistance even if the assailant is unknown or is not responsible for his actions
  • does not include offenses by carelessness or negligence

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://justice.belgium.be/fr

General Welfare Centres (CAW’s)

In Flanders and Brussels there are 11 General Welfare Centres (Centra Algemeen Welzijnswerk — CAWs), each of which has a department that assists crime victims.

The Centres

  • via the support body called the Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijnswerk, are members of Victim Support Europe;
  • are open to anyone with a question or problem;
  • provide victim assistance services in Flanders and Brussels;
  • offer psychosocial help to victims and their families, surviving members of the families of people who have committed suicide, victims of disasters and their families, and victims of traffic accidents and their families;
  • provide victims with psychological, practical and legal assistance.

CONTACTS:

WebsiteLink opens in new windowhttp://www.archipel.be

For the contact details of all the 25 CAW’s click Link opens in new windowhere.

Federation of Services for Help to Parties in Proceedings

The Federation of Services for Help to Parties in Proceedings is an organisation operating in the French-speaking part of the country which does not only offer assistance to victims of crime, it also offers assistance to e.g. prisoners and released prisoners.

Federation of Services for Help to Parties in Proceedings

  • consists of five local divisions (one in each province) in the French speaking part of the country
  • is financed by The French Community government
  • provides psychological, medical and social help to the defendants, inmates, offenders, victims and parents and/or relatives of those individuals
  • is composed of professionals working in multidisciplinary teams

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.ulb.ac.be/

For the contact details of the local divisions of Federation of Services for Help to Parties in Proceedings click Link opens in new windowhere.

Sozial-Psychologischen Zentrum (SPZ)

The SPZ is an organisation operating in the German-speaking part of the country, which offers assistance to victims of crime.

The Sozial-Psychologisches Zentrum (SPZ)

  • is a non-governmental organisation that operates in the German speaking part of Belgium
  • has branches St. Vith and Eupen
  • offers an individual approach to all victims of crime by a multidisciplinary team consisting of psychologists, therapists, social workers and a psychiatrist

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.ulb.ac.be/

Child Trust Centres

Child Trust Centres are specialized centres, set up by the Flemish government, which have their own way of working aimed at the child’s safety and wellness.

The Child Trust Centres

  • are based in each Flemish province and in the Brussels Capital Region
  • are multidisciplinary and have a medical, psychological/educational and social function and a secretariat function
  • are advice and assistant centres in cases of child abuse
  • provide information about child abuse and assistance free of charge
  • can be involved in any situation of a child being a victim of physical, psychological, or sexual violence, in a passive or an active way
  • are reporting stations for any incident of child abuse

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.kindinnood.org/

For the contact details of the other Child Trust Centres click Link opens in new windowhere.

Federation of SOS Children's Services

The Federation of SOS Children's Services is operating in the French-speaking part of the country and provides assistance for victims of child abuse.

The Federation of SOS Children's Services teams

  • ensure the prevention and treatment of individual cases of abuse
  • establish a multidisciplinary assessment of the situation of the child and their environment
  • provide medical, psychiatric, psychological and social help to the child and their family
  • are willing to advance knowledge in the field of treatment and prevention of situations of abuse

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.federationsosenfants.be/

Jugendhilfedienst (JHD)

The JHD are operating in the German-speaking part of Belgium and they provide specialised assistance for minor victims of crime.

The Jugendhilfedienst (JHD)

  • are advice and assistant centres in cases of child abuse
  • offer assistance to children, adolescents and their parents in the German speaking part of Belgium
  • forward, if necessary, the situation to the public prosecutor or the juvenile court

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.dglive.be/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-300/537_read-3830/

Last update: 27/02/2015

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Bulgarian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Bulgaria

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, e.g. you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, etc., as a result of an incident, which constitutes a crime according to national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

If you are a family member of a victim of a crime who has passed away, you will be able to exercise his/her rights only if you are his/her legal heir.

If you have suffered from one of a number of Link opens in new windowvery serious crimes (1) you will be given some additional rights, regarding the assistance and compensation you can obtain. If you are a child, parent, spouse or cohabitant of a victim of one of those crimes and he/she has passed away as a result of that crime, you will be granted his/her additional rights.

Criminal proceedings in Bulgaria consist of investigation by the police, during which evidence is collected about the offence committed and about its alleged perpetrator. If enough evidence is collected, the case goes to trial. The trial concludes with the court convicting or acquitting the defendant and possible appeals before higher courts. The main objective is to assess who is responsible for committing a certain crime and, subsequently, to determine an appropriate penalty.

If you have suffered from one of a number of Link opens in new windowduring the investigation of the crime, Link opens in new windowduring the trial or Link opens in new windowafter the first trial. Also, read more about the Link opens in new windowhelp and support you can get.

Notes:
1. Crimes entitling victims to additional rights
According to Bulgarian legislation, victims of certain types of crime have additional rights. These crimes are: terrorism, murder, premeditated grave bodily injury, sexual violence and rape that led to serious damage to health, human trafficking, any crime ordered or committed by an organised criminal group or any other serious intentional crime where the immediate consequences are death or serious bodily injury.
Last update: 17/12/2018

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.

1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

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

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

You can report a crime:

  • to the Link opens in new windowpolice - by post, personally at a police station, or by phone on the European emergency number 112 or on the emergency number of the Bulgarian police 166;
  • to a public prosecutor – by Link opens in new windowpost or personally before the prosecutor on duty Link opens in new windowin the nearest prosecutor’s office.

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.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

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.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

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.

What are my rights as a witness?

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:

  • to use written notes;
  • to be assisted by an interpreter free of charge, if needed;
  • to be accompanied by a lawyer, generally at your own expense;
  • to be interviewed at your location, if you cannot go to the police or the prosecutor’s office due to illness or disability;
  • to be interviewed through a videoconference or a telephone conference, if you are outside Bulgaria;
  • not to reply to questions, which may imply that you, your relatives, siblings, spouse or co-habitant may have committed a crime;
  • to request revocation of acts that impact on your rights;
  • to be reimbursed for the working day(s) off and the expenses incurred.

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.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 18 years of age, you have the right:

  • to be interviewed in a suitable environment in the presence of a person of teaching background or a psychologist and your parents or guardians;
  • to be interviewed via videoconference even if you reside in Bulgaria;
  • to always benefit from legal aid free of charge in all proceedings affecting your rights and interests.

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.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

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:

  • how and where you can report a crime and what follows;
  • how and where you can obtain counselling, support and legal aid free of charge;
  • how and where you can receive protection for you and your relatives and financial compensation;
  • how to protect your rights and interests, if you are a foreigner or if you have been victimised abroad.

You can also check a brochure available in Link opens in new windowBulgarian, Link opens in new windowEnglish, Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowFrench.

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.

Can I receive legal aid?

You have the right to free Link opens in new windowlegal 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.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

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:

  • Personal physical protection by the police for you and/or your parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, siblings, spouse or persons in particularly close relations with you;
  • Keeping your identity a secret by replacing your personal data with an identification number and allowing direct access to you only to the police, the prosecutor and the court.

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.

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

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 Link opens in new windowEuropean 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 Link opens in new windowFoundation 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:

  • to use shelters and assistance centres;
  • to receive support and assistance from diplomatic and consular officials abroad;
  • to get special protection (e.g. prolongation of your accommodation in a shelter, issuance of long-term residence permit), etc.

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

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.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

After the end of the investigation, the prosecutor will:

  • close or suspend the case, if the act committed is not a crime, the involvement of the offender has not been proven, the identity of the offender has not been discovered, a very important eyewitness cannot be interviewed, etc.; or
  • bring the case to court.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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.

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

If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Bulgaria you have all the rights described above. Specifically, you can:

  • submit a crime report in your own language;
  • use the assistance of an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Bulgarian;
  • take part in the investigation and obtain information, if you provide an address in Bulgaria;
  • receive additional information about your entitlements as a foreign citizen from police and victim support organisations in a language you understand, if you are a victim of Link opens in new windowcertain crimes (1);
  • be interviewed outside Bulgaria through a videoconference or a telephone conference;
  • consult a brochure on victims’ rights available in Link opens in new windowEnglish, Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowFrench;
  • benefit from free Link opens in new windowlegal aid if you are a victim of Link opens in new windowcertain crimes (1); you need to make a request to the prosecutor or the police officer investigating the case and present evidence that you cannot pay for it;
  • submit documents to Bulgarian authorities in a foreign language, accompanied by a duly certified Bulgarian translation;
  • be issued a long term residence permit, if you are a victim of human trafficking.

More information:

  • Criminal Procedure Code (Наказателно-процесуален кодекс) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime (Закон за подпомагане и финансова компенсация на пострадали от престъпления) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Law on Health (Закон за здравето) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Instruction No Iз-507 on Receiving Citizens and Supporting Victims of Crime (Инструкция № Iз-507 на МВР от 26 март 2008 г. за осъществяване на прием на граждани и подкрепа на жертви на престъпления в структурните звена на национална служба “Полиция”) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Legal Aid (Закон за правната помощ) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Protection against Domestic Violence (Закон за защита от домашното насилие) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Combating Human Trafficking (Закон за борба с трафика на хора) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Child Protection (Закон за закрила на детето) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
Notes:

1. Crimes entitling victims to additional rights
According to Bulgarian legislation, victims of certain types of crime have additional rights. These crimes are: terrorism, murder, premeditated grave bodily injury, sexual violence and rape that led to serious damage to health, human trafficking, any crime ordered or committed by an organised criminal group or any other serious intentional crime where the immediate consequences are death or serious bodily injury.

2. 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.

3. 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.
Last update: 17/12/2018

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.

4 - Help and support for victims of crime

National Council for Assistance and Compensation of Victims of Crime

Ministry of the Interior

National Legal Aid Bureau

Association of Organisations Supporting Victims of Crime

Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption

Nadja Centre

Centre for Assisting Victims of Torture – ACET

Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

Animus Association Foundation

National Council for Assistance and Compensation of Victims of Crime

The National Council for Assistance and Compensation of Victims of Crime is the state body responsible for state-provided compensation.

The National Council for Assistance and Compensation of Victims of Crime

  • is responsible for the payment of financial compensation
  • provides assistance to Bulgarian citizens victimised on the territory of another EU Member State in filling in financial compensation request forms and sends them to the competent authority in the respective Member State
  • assists citizens of other Member States legally residing and victimised on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria who have the right to financial compensation

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.compensation.bg/

Ministry of the Interior

The Ministry of the Interior receives and supports persons victimised by crimes or other violations of public order.

The Ministry of the Interior

  • helps persons who are victimised by crimes or other violations of public order
  • investigates crimes under the supervision of public prosecutors

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.mvr.bg/en/home

For the contact details of all police stations click Link opens in new windowhere.

National Legal Aid Bureau

The National Legal Aid Bureau organises, together with bar councils, the provision of legal aid to persons in need, including victims of crime.

The National Legal Aid Bureau

  • organises, together with bar councils, the provision of legal aid
  • keeps the National Register for Legal Aid
  • pays for and controls the legal aid rendered

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.nbpp.government.bg/

Association of Organisations Supporting Victims of Crime

The Association of Organisations Supporting Victims of Crime provides information on the activity of its constitutive organisations in the different regions.

The Association of Organisations Supporting Victims of Crime

  • was created and registered by the Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption, Nadya Centre, ACET, the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation and other organisations for the purpose of electing a standing representative in the National Council for Assistance and Compensation of Victims of Crime
  • provides information on the activity of its constitutive organisations in the different regions

CONTACTS:

Telephone: +359 2 980 0262 - Website: n/a

Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption

The Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption provides legal and technical information and psychological assistance to victims of crime.

The Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption

  • provides legal and technical information and psychological assistance to victims of crime
  • conducts anticorruption activities

CONTACTS:

Telephone: +359 2 980 0262 - Website: n/a

Nadja Centre

Nadja Centre renders assistance to women and children who are victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence.

The Nadja Centre

  • helps women and children, victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence
  • provides psychological, medical, social and legal consultations and psychotherapy, and directs victims to other services and experts; provides telephone consultations and information
  • operates a 24-hour national hotline for children in need
  • has branches and centres in Sofia, Ruse, Kyustendil, Stara Zagora, Targovishte and Sandanski

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://centrenadja.org/

Centre for Assisting Victims of Torture – ACET

The Centre for Assisting Victims of Torture provides medical and psychological consultations for victims of violence and torture.

The Centre for Assisting Victims of Torture – ACET

  • provides medical and psychological consultations for victims of violence and torture
  • provides support and rehabilitation for victims of violence or torture
  • has a rehabilitation programme in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Stara Zagora and Kazanluk

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.acet-bg.org/

Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

The Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation works in the field of protecting women from violence in all its forms – domestic violence, trafficking of women, and sexual harassment at work.

The Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

  • works towards protection of women from violence in all its forms – domestic violence, trafficking of women, sexual harassment at work
  • raises awareness and sensitivity among the public on gender equality issues
  • has branches in Plovdiv, Haskovo, Silistra and Gorna Oryahovitsa

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.bgrf.org/

Animus Association Foundation

The Animus Association renders psychological and social assistance to victims of violence.

The Animus Association Foundation

  • does direct psychological and social work with victims of violence (domestic, sexual violence and human trafficking)
  • does community work – lobbying, prevention and networking among partners; training of specialists for recognising violence and working with its victims
  • supports a 24/7 hotline (0 800 18 676) for victims of violence, which offers emotional support after a violent experience and information on organisations and services offering help
  • operates the Hotline for children – victims of violence or children at risk 116 111
  • supports a 24/7 crisis unit, where victims of violence and their children can stay for up to four days;
  • provides psychological counselling for dealing with the post-violence crisis, social work and advocacy – accompanying the victims and support of their relations with social, medical, legal and other institutions
  • conducts psychotherapeutic and consultative programmes

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.animusassociation.org/

Last update: 17/12/2018

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.

2 - My rights during the trial

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 offender or receive compensation from the state?

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

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

More information

How can I be involved in the trial?

When your case goes to court you will receive information about the first court hearing and you have to decide how you are going to participate in the trial. You have three options: to participate as a victim without a specific legal status in the proceedings, as a civil claimant (1) and/or as an additional private prosecutor (2).

If you choose to participate only as a victim, you:

  • will be informed about the date of the court sessions;
  • can get acquainted with the case materials and take notes;
  • can be present at the court hearing unless it is not public ( i.e. takes place behind closed doors and only in the presence of a limited number of persons), in which case you will need permission from the judge.

If you decide to participate as an additional private prosecutor (2) and/or civil claimant (1) you will have a number of additional rights:

  • to have a lawyer present (not obligatorily), generally at your own expense, unless you prove you cannot pay for his/her services;
  • to ask for the exclusion of any judge, the prosecutor, the lawyers or the registrar, the experts and the interpreters, if you have justified reasons to doubt their impartiality;
  • to present material evidence, call witnesses, request expert opinions, etc.;
  • to be present at inspections performed by the court;
  • to request the performance of new investigative actions;
  • to make statements, requests, remarks and objections, examine and cross-examine the defendant and the witnesses and object against the interview of specific witnesses;
  • to request the court to order the offender to cover your expenses if the case ends with a conviction;
  • to appeal against the decisions of the court, including the verdict and the penalty.

In case you wish to become additional private prosecutor and/or civil claimant, you need to notify the court. You can do this in writing (no specific form is necessary) or orally during the court session. In any case, you need to notify the court before the presentation of evidence. After that you can no longer become a civil claimant or additional private prosecutor.

In some cases you may not be allowed to participate in the trial as additional private prosecutor (2) or civil claimant (1). The law does not allow for such participation in some specific types of accelerated proceedings (e.g. when the offender has been caught at the scene of the crime). The court may also decide to reject your participation, even if it is not excluded by the law. In such case you can appeal against that decision before the higher court. If you are rejected as a civil claimant, you can still file your claim at the civil court.

There are some less serious crimes (e.g. insult, libel, minor bodily injury, caused by a relative, etc.), which are prosecuted by you as a victim and not by the public prosecutor. If you are a victim of such a crime you have to submit a complaint directly to the court. By doing this you will become a private prosecutor (3). As a private prosecutor you will have the same scope of rights as the additional private prosecutor and the civil claimant.

What are my rights as a witness?

If you have also been summoned as a witness, you are obliged to appear before the court and stay at its disposal until needed. You also have specific rights related to your testimony:

  • to use written notes;
  • to be assisted by an interpreter free of charge, if needed;
  • to be accompanied by a lawyer, generally at your own expense;
  • to be interviewed at your location if you cannot appear at the court due to illness or disability;
  • to be interviewed at your location through a videoconference or a telephone conference, if you are outside Bulgaria;
  • not to reply to questions which may imply that you, your relatives, siblings, spouse or actual co-habitant may have committed a crime;
  • to request the revocation of acts affecting your rights; and
  • to be reimbursed for the working day(s) off and the expenses incurred.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 18 years of age, you can:

  • be interviewed in a suitable environment in the presence of a person of teaching background or a psychologist and your parents or guardians;
  • be interviewed via videoconference, i.e. without direct contact with the offender, even if you reside in Bulgaria;
  • be interviewed in a non-public hearing (i.e. taking place behind closed doors and only in the presence of a limited number of persons); after you give your testimony you will be taken out of the courtroom unless the court rules otherwise;
  • always receive legal aid free of charge in all proceedings, affecting your rights and interests.

If your interests are in conflict with those of your parent, guardian or custodian, the court will appoint a lawyer free of charge to represent you.

Can I receive legal aid?

You can request a lawyer free of charge if you participate in the trial as an additional private prosecutor (2), private prosecutor (3) and/or civil claimant (1). You need to present evidence to the court that you are unable to pay the fees for a lawyer. The court will examine the evidence and assign a lawyer for you.

You also have the right to free Link opens in new windowlegal aid if you are a victim (or heir/relative of a victim) of certain crimes (4). You have to make a request to the court and legal aid is given to you free of charge, if you present evidence that you cannot pay for it. If possible, the bar council will nominate the lawyer you have specified.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

You can ask the court to ban the offender from approaching you. The court’s decision cannot be appealed. The ban lasts until the end of criminal proceedings, but you can request its lifting at any time.

If you are a witness and your evidence might endanger you or your relatives, you can request the prosecutor or the court to place you under temporary witness protection measures:

  • Personal physical protection by the police for you and/or your parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, siblings, spouse or persons in particularly close relations with you;
  • Keeping your identity a secret by replacing your personal data with an identification number and allowing direct access to you only to the police, the prosecutor and the court.

If you are a witness, an additional private prosecutor (2) or civil claimant (1) in proceedings for 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 (5).

If you are a victim of a sexual offence, you can have your trial in a non-public hearing (i.e. taking place behind closed doors and only in the presence of a limited number of persons).

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

You can claim damages before the criminal court (as part of the criminal proceedings) or the civil court (in separate proceedings) within five years of the commission of the crime or the discovery of the perpetrator.

You are free to file a civil claim to the civil court whenever you suffer damages. It does not matter whether the incident was a crime, whether the crime was reported or whether there was any criminal procedure at all.

If you choose the criminal court, you have to present your claim before evidence starts being presented at the first instance court. You cannot bring a civil claim to the criminal court if you have already claimed before a civil court.

The criminal court may decide not to examine your claim if it is too complicated and its examination would delay the criminal proceedings. In this case you can file your claim against the alleged offender before the civil court.

The compensation from the offender covers all damages caused by the crime, without minimum or maximum levels or a scale.

You might be also entitled to compensation from the State if you are a victim (or heir/relative of a victim) of certain crimes (4). Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Bulgaria (available in Link opens in new windowBulgarian) of the European Judicial Network.

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

Bulgarian legislation does not provide for mediation in any part of the criminal proceedings.

However, your case may end up with an ‘agreement’ between the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer, approved by court. During the trial the agreement has to be prepared before the end of the judicial inquiry. 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.

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

If you are a foreigner who has suffered from a crime in Bulgaria, you have all the rights explained above. Specifically, you can:

  • use the assistance of an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Bulgarian;
  • be summoned to the proceedings in your own country;
  • be interviewed outside Bulgaria through a videoconference or a telephone conference;
  • submit to authorities documents in a foreign language, accompanied by a duly certified Bulgarian translation;
  • consult a brochure on victims’ rights available in Link opens in new windowEnglish, Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowFrench;
  • benefit from free Link opens in new windowlegal aid, if you participate in the trial as an Link opens in new windowadditional private prosecutor (2), Link opens in new windowprivate prosecutor (3) and/or Link opens in new windowcivil claimant (1) or if you are a victim of Link opens in new windowcertain crimes (4); you need to make a request to the court and present evidence that you cannot pay for it;
  • be issued a long term residence permit, if you are a victim of human trafficking.
  • Criminal Procedure Code (Наказателно-процесуален кодекс) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime (Закон за подпомагане и финансова компенсация на пострадали от престъпления) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Law on Legal Aid (Закон за правната помощ) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian

More information:

  • Criminal Procedure Code (Наказателно-процесуален кодекс) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime (Закон за подпомагане и финансова компенсация на пострадали от престъпления) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Law on Legal Aid (Закон за правната помощ) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian

Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian

Notes:

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. Crimes entitling victims to additional rights
According to Bulgarian legislation, victims of certain types of crime have additional rights. These crimes are: terrorism, murder, premeditated grave bodily injury, sexual violence and rape that led to serious damage to health, human trafficking, any crime ordered or committed by an organised criminal group or any other serious intentional crime where the immediate consequences are death or serious bodily injury.

5. 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: 17/12/2018

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.

3 - My rights after the (first) trial

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 Link opens in new windowBulgarian
  • Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Link opens in new windowBulgarian
Notes:

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: 17/12/2018

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Czech Republic

You are considered an ‘injured party’ (poškozený - term used for the victim of a crime in the Code of Criminal Procedure (trestní řád)) if you have suffered harm as the result of an action identified as a crime in the Criminal Code (trestní zákon). This harm may take various forms, for example, damage to or theft of an object. As the injured party you have certain legal rights before, during and after court proceedings.

Criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic begin with fact-checking and an investigation. At this stage of the case, the police make inquiries under the supervision of the public prosecutor. If enough evidence is gathered during this stage of the proceedings proving that a crime has been committed and that it was committed by a specific person, the public prosecutor issues a decision to bring charges, and the case then goes to court. During the court stage of the criminal proceedings, the court hears the evidence and on the basis of that evidence it finds the defendant guilty or not guilty. If the court finds the defendant guilty of committing the crime, it imposes a penalty on the defendant. In the case of a non-guilty verdict, the defendant is acquitted. The criminal proceedings may continue on the basis of an appeal brought before a higher court if you have made a claim for damages.

As an injured party you can join the criminal proceedings at any stage.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

From your first contact with the police, you will receive information that will allow you to properly exercise your rights. Specifically, you will receive information about:

  • the authority with which you can file a criminal complaint, and you will receive the contact details of that authority;
  • who you can contact with a request for professional assistance, and under what conditions the professional assistance is free of charge; you will also receive contact details of professionals providing assistance;
  • the conditions under which you are entitled to measures to ensure your safety;
  • where to get more information about the case in which you are the victim;
  • the stages of criminal proceedings and your role in them;
  • the authority where you can request more information; you will also receive the contact details of that authority;
  • the conditions under which you are entitled to financial assistance;
  • the closest shelters, intervention centres or other similar facilities you can contact;
  • the nearest healthcare provider you can contact;
  • how to seek redress if your rights have been violated by a public authority;
  • the measures you may request to protect your interests if you are residing in another EU Member State;
  • what other rights you have under the Victims of Crimes Act.

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

You are guaranteed the same rights as citizens of the Czech Republic and persons residing in the Czech Republic. If you declare that you do not speak Czech, you will be given information about your rights in a language you understand or in the official language of the state you are a citizen of.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

If you file a complaint with the police, you must be given all the information that must be provided at the time of your first contact with the police, as specified above.

If you are filing a criminal complaint with a public prosecutor, you must always receive information about:

  • where you can request professional assistance, and under what conditions the professional assistance is free of charge; you will also receive contact details of professionals providing assistance;
  • the conditions under which you are entitled to measures to ensure your safety;
  • where to get more information about the case in which you are the victim.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

When you are dealing with law enforcement authorities and you do not speak Czech, you may use your mother tongue or a language you have indicated that you speak.

If it is possible, the translation of the final decision terminating the proceedings will be handed to you at your request. To the extent necessary for the exercise of your rights in the proceedings, a translation of other documents may also be provided to you upon your reasoned request.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

The authorities have an obligation to inform the victims in a comprehensible manner, taking into account their age, intellectual and volitional maturity, literacy and health, including their psychological state. If possible, interviews of children and persons with disabilities must be carried out by a person specially trained to do so.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Victims support is provided by several groups of entities. These include the state centres of the Probation and Mediation Service, as well as private entities accredited by the Ministry of Justice to provide legal information and/or restoration programmes, and entities authorised by the Social Services Act to provide psychological and social counselling services. Legal assistance to victims is provided by some lawyers. These entities are entered in the register of victim assistance providers, which is maintained by the Ministry of Justice and accessible from the Ministry of Justice website at Link opens in new windowhttps://www.justice.cz/.

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

Yes, you will be automatically informed about victim support during your first contact with the police. You will receive contact details of the authorities providing assistance.

How is my privacy protected?

In general, law enforcement authorities are not allowed to publish information that is not directly related to criminal activity. In pre-trial proceedings, any information that may lead to your identity being revealed must not be disclosed. Special protection is granted to the privacy of persons under the age of 18. If you so request, information about your private life (your residence and delivery address, place of work or business, and your personal, family, and property situation) will be maintained in such a way that it can be accessed only by the law enforcement authorities, police officers and Probation and Mediation Service officers involved in the case. It may be made accessible only if this is necessary to achieve the purpose of the criminal proceedings or for the person against whom the criminal proceedings are conducted to properly exercise their right of defence.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

No, professional assistance is available before the criminal proceedings begin. Even before the crime is reported, you may receive professional assistance if it is necessary and expedient.

Personal protection if I’m in danger

What types of protection are available?

There are a number of options for the protection of victims.

Police may provide you with ‘short-term protection’ if you are likely to be at risk of bodily harm or another serious risk. Such protection may include physical protection, change of your residence or advisory and preventive activities. The police may also order the accused person to leave the household you live in together and its vicinity for a period of 10 days if there is a risk of attack against your life or health.

If the victim’s safety is at risk, the police officer carries out actions or takes measures to ensure the victim’s safety. Prison Service officers, military police officers and municipal police officers have the same obligation.

In more serious situations, you are eligible under certain conditions for special protection which is provided to witnesses and other persons who are likely to be at risk of bodily harm or another serious risk in connection with criminal proceedings. Such protection includes personal protection, change of residence and assistance with social inclusion in a new environment, concealment of true identity, etc. This is a very serious measure, which should be used only when necessary.

Protection provided by courts or public prosecutors takes the form of precautionary measures used in the criminal proceedings, for example prohibiting the accused person to contact the victim or to enter the common household where the victim lives. Similar precautionary measures may also be taken by a court in civil proceedings. If protecting you, as a victim or a harmed party, requires taking the accused person into custody, he or she may be taken into custody if there are grounds to believe that the accused person will repeat the crime, complete the crime or commit a crime he or she has been preparing or threatening to commit.

In addition, you have the right to request that steps be taken in criminal proceedings to prevent your contact with the alleged offender.

At your request, you have the right to receive information about the release or escape of the accused person from custody, prison or a security detention centre, and other similar information.

If you are a witness, you may testify with your identity concealed under certain conditions.

A judicial body may also issue a European protection order for your protection.

Who can offer me protection?

Protection is offered by the authorities mentioned above, in particular the police and courts through their decisions.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

The situation is always assessed by the law enforcement authorities. If they find any danger, they will take the necessary steps.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

The law enforcement authorities must always act in such a way as to prevent further harm to the victim as a result of the offence or secondary harm.

If a law enforcement authority has violated your rights or you have not been able to exercise them fully, you have the right to seek redress. Above all, you have the right to apply for a review of the police authority’s conduct or litigate for compensation for damage or reasonable satisfaction for non-pecuniary harm caused by a public authority in the exercise of its powers.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

Especially vulnerable victims include children, the elderly or persons with disabilities and victims of certain crimes such as human trafficking, terrorist attacks, sexual crimes against human dignity, or certain violent crimes. Particularly vulnerable victims may naturally take advantage of all the possibilities of protection mentioned above, and it is often the case that the competent authority is, in principle, obliged to accept the application of a particularly vulnerable victim. The scope of rights of particularly vulnerable victims is generally broader; however, this does not apply directly to the protection of victims, which depends more on whether the victim is at risk of suffering bodily harm or another serious risk.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

Yes, as a child (a person below the age of 18), you are a particularly vulnerable victim and you are entitled to special rights. These include the right to free legal assistance in criminal proceedings, the right to have interviews conducted in a particularly sensitive manner by a trained person, limit on repeated interviews or the right to prevent immediate visual contact with the offender, as well as limit on exemptions from some other rights pertaining to all victims.

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

If you suffer harm due to the death of a family member as a result of a criminal offence, you are considered a victim yourself, and you have the rights conferred by the status of a victim.

My family member was a victim of crime – what are my rights?

In this case, you are not considered a victim. However, you can become a victim’s person of confidence if the victim chooses you as such. The victim has the right to be accompanied by a person of confidence during criminal proceedings and when giving explanation. A person of confidence may be excluded only in exceptional cases.

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

Yes. The Probation and Mediation Service, which is one of the victim assistance providers, provides mediation services. Mediation is free and based on the consent of both parties, i.e. the victim and the offender. Mediation is conducted by a conflict resolution expert who maintains a friendly and balanced approach to both parties and helps to find a solution. The Probation and Mediation Service is a State organisational unit whose mission is, among other things, to mediate an effective and socially beneficial resolution of crime-related conflicts, and which, as such, is able to ensure the victim’s security during mediation negotiations.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

The main provisions are those of Act No 45/2013, on victims of crimes. The Collection of Laws may be consulted on working days at any municipal and regional authority (including the Prague City Hall). Like other legislation, this law is also available online, for example Link opens in new windowon the Public Administration Portal or on the Ministry of the Interior website

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

You can file a criminal complaint with any police body or public prosecutor in writing, verbally in a report or electronically. In the criminal complaint, you should demonstrate what you believe constitutes evidence that the criminal offence has been committed.

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

If you so request in the criminal complaint, the competent authority must inform you of the measures taken within one month after the complaint was filed. As a victim, you are, in principle, the harmed party and, as such, you have the right to consult the file. You can also apply for information on the status of the proceedings. Such information must be provided to you by the competent authority; this does not apply if such information may be detrimental to the purpose of the criminal proceedings.

Am I entitled to legal aid (during the investigation or trial)? What are the conditions?

Yes. You can receive legal assistance even before the criminal proceedings are initiated and you can receive it throughout the proceedings as well as after its termination. Legal assistance is provided by lawyers. Particularly vulnerable victims may receive legal assistance in criminal proceedings free of charge. Additionally, it may be provided free of charge or at a reduced price to a victim who has suffered severe harm due to an intentional criminal offence, or to the survivor of a victim who has died as a result of a criminal offence; these persons must demonstrate that they do not have sufficient funds. Other victims have the right to legal assistance for a fee.

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

If you are the harmed party in criminal proceedings and you claim compensation for damage or non-pecuniary harm or the restitution of unjust enrichment, and this claim is at least partially granted to you, the convicted person is obliged to compensate you for the expenses necessary for the reasonable exercise of this claim in the proceedings. If you file a motion for such compensation, the court may still grant it even if your claim was unsuccessful.

If you are a witness, you are entitled to a witness fee. You must claim this fee within 3 days after the interview.

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

You can oppose this by filing a complaint. The complaint is a means of appeal against the decisions of the police authority and some decisions of the public prosecutor in the pre-trial proceedings, which take the form of a resolution. This way, you, as the harmed party, may oppose for example the resolution to discontinue the case and the resolution to terminate prosecution.

Can I be involved in the trial?

Yes. You (as the harmed party) will be informed of when the main proceedings will be held by the court.

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

The Czech legal order distinguishes between the term ‘victim’ and the term ‘harmed party’. A harmed party is one of the parties to the criminal proceedings. In principle, the term encompasses all victims, except those who are victims due to a family relationship with a person who has died as a result of a crime.

Therefore, in the Czech judicial system you will be the victim and the harmed party (and hence a party to the criminal proceedings; this does not apply in the case mentioned above) – as a victim, you may claim compensation for damage, non-pecuniary harm or unjust enrichment. In principle, you will also be a witness. Private legal actions do not exist under the Czech legal order; therefore, you cannot be a private prosecutor.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

Victims’ rights are governed primarily by the Victims of Crimes Act and they are described in other replies.

The harmed party has a number of rights pursuant to Link opens in new windowAct No 141/1961, Code of Criminal Procedure, including the possibility to claim compensation for damage and non-pecuniary harm caused by a criminal offence or the restitution of unjust enrichment, or the possibility to appeal against the operative part of the decision on compensation for damage, harm or restitution of unjust enrichment. The harmed party also has the right to file motions for additional evidence, consult the files, attend the trial, attend the public session on appeals, express his or her opinion on the case before the end of the proceedings, take part in negotiating the agreement on guilt and punishment and attend the public session on its approval, the right to be represented by a representative and the right to file appeals and applications in specified cases.

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

Yes, you can make a statement about the impact of the crime on your life at any stage of the criminal proceedings, both verbally and in writing. As a victim, i.e. as one of the parties to the proceedings, you may search for, present and propose evidence.

What information will I receive during the trial?

At your request, you will receive information:

  • that the criminal proceedings have not been initiated;
  • on the state of the criminal proceedings;
  • on the classification of the act of which the person is accused;
  • the time and place of the public hearing of the case before the court;

and you will also be given the final decision ending the proceedings.

Will I be able to access court files?

Yes, as a harmed party, you have the right to consult the file. However, for serious reasons, you may be denied this right by the public prosecutor or the police authority in the pre-trial proceedings.

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

Yes, but as a victim, you can only appeal against the operative part of the ruling on the compensation for damage, non-pecuniary harm or restitution of unjust enrichment.

What are my rights after sentencing?

See other replies.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

Support (professional assistance) may be provided even after the end of judicial proceedings until such time as required by its purpose. Special protection (mentioned above) can often mean a lasting change in the way of life and is therefore, by its nature, provided even after the end of the criminal proceedings.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

At your request, you will be given the final ruling, which contains information on the punishment and its form. If you claim a claim for damages or non-pecuniary harm or for unjust enrichment, the ruling will always be delivered to you.

Furthermore, a prison or an institution providing security detention or protective treatment will, at your request, give you some additional information, especially about:

  • the release or escape of the convicted person from prison, security detention or protective treatment;
  • suspension of imprisonment;
  • extradition of the convicted person to a foreign state or his or her transfer to an EU Member State.

If the accused has been released or escaped and you are in danger due to being a witness, the competent authorities are required to immediately inform the police, who will take the necessary measures to ensure your safety and inform you.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

Yes, see above.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

At any time during the criminal proceedings, you have the right to make a statement about the impact of the crime on your life so far.

However, you are not entitled to appeal against a decision on conditional release or on good behaviour of a conditionally convicted person.

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

A victim may claim compensation for damage from the offender by way of civil proceedings; the victim may also join the claim for compensation for damage to the criminal prosecution of the offender (‘adhesion proceedings’).

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

If the offender deliberately does not fulfil the obligation to provide compensation for damage imposed by the court, the person having a claim (the victim) has the right to apply to the court for an enforcement of the obligation. A law, which will become effective on 1 January 2018, also entitles the victims of crimes to request that their right to compensation for damage be satisfied by the state from the funds it has recovered from the offender as property sanctions.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? What are the conditions?

The Czech Republic does not pay advances for any performance arising from the offender’s obligation to provide compensation for damage caused by the crime. The Czech legal system strictly separates the victim’s right to compensation for the damage caused by the offender, which is considered to be a tort liability, and to financial assistance in accordance with Act No 45/2013, on victims of crimes, which serves as a cash benefit from the state provided for the alleviation of the social impact of victimisation.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

As stated above, the state does not pay damages in the strict sense of the word (it does not interfere with the property obligations of the offender, does not assume them), but offers victims of crimes financial assistance. In accordance with Act No 45/2013, on victims of crimes, financial assistance may be paid to victims who have incurred statutory minimum damage to health as a result of a crime, victims of sexual crimes against human dignity, tortured children and survivors (from a group defined by law) of those who died as a result of a crime. This assistance is most often provided in amounts ranging from CZK 10 000 (approximately EUR 370) to CZK 200 000 (approximately EUR 7 400) and is calculated either at a statutory flat rate or corresponds to the amount of proven lost earnings and costs of treatment or, where appropriate, the costs of specialised therapy used to alleviate the non-pecuniary harm suffered. The Ministry of Justice decides on applications for the payment of financial assistance, which must be submitted within 2 years from the date when the victim learned of the damage caused by the crime and not later than 5 years from the date of the crime.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

The compensation for damage caused by an offender (i.e. tort liability) cannot be claimed if the offender has not been convicted simply because he is unknown, i.e. there is no liable person, or his tort has not been proven, or the offender does not bear criminal liability for his or her actions, i.e. the accused person cannot be held liable for any harm caused by acts that he or she did not commit, which did not have the nature of a crime or for which the accused is not liable. Conversely, however, a person may become entitled to financial assistance from the state (see above) even before the conviction of the offender; the victim is so entitled even if the offender is unknown or if he or she does not bear criminal liability for his or her actions, provided that there is no doubt that the victim has incurred harm by the acts having the nature of a crime (or that the relative of the victim has died as a result).

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

Act No 45/2013, on victims of crimes, does not allow the Ministry of Justice to provide advances for financial assistance a decision on which is pending; the urgent life needs of victims are addressed in another way, from the system of state social care or support.

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime who do I contact for support and assistance?

The entities you can contact are specified in the Register of Providers of Assistance to Crime Victims. The Register is available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior at Link opens in new windowhttp://portal.justice.cz/Justice2/MS/ms.aspx?o=23&j=33&k=6115&d=330753.

The Register has 4 sections that contain information on all types of victim assistance providers, namely:

  1. providers of social services;
  2. accredited providers of legal information or restorative programmes;
  3. lawyers; and
  4. centres of the Probation and Mediation Service.

The Register contains relatively detailed information on providers of assistance to crime victims and allows the search of these providers by their name and district, as well as advanced search using other criteria.

Victim support hotline

(+420) 116 006 (Victims Helpline – universal line also used in other EU Member States)

Is victim support free?

To the extent set out, expert assistance is provided free of charge to particularly vulnerable victims who need it. Such victims also receive free legal assistance to the extent set out. Other victims are not entitled to free professional assistance, but such assistance may be provided free of charge at the discretion of the provider. However, the assistance provided by the Probation and Mediation Service is always free of charge.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

The Probation and Mediation Service, which is a state authority, provides victims with legal information, psychological support, and offers restorative programmes, such as mediation, which can help you resolve your situation by means of an informal out-of-court negotiation with the offender. There are 74 centres of the Probation and Mediation Service; they can be found in all parts of the Czech Republic and provide their services free of charge.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

Depending on their nature, non-governmental organisations and individuals provide legal information, psychological and social counselling, legal assistance, or restorative programmes.

Last update: 02/07/2019

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Denmark

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, e.g. you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, etc., as a result of an incident that constitutes a crime according to national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial). You can also benefit from various forms of assistance and claim compensation for the damages caused by the crime.

Criminal proceedings in Denmark include investigation and trial. During the investigation the police and the public prosecutor investigate the case to find the offender and collect evidence. If there is sufficient proof that the alleged offender has committed the crime the case is brought to the court for trial. The court, after examining the collected evidence, decides whether the offender is guilty and convicts or acquits him/her.

The following factsheets will take you through the different steps of the procedure, describing your rights Link opens in new windowduring the investigation of the crimeLink opens in new windowduring the trial or Link opens in new windowafter the first trial. Also, read more about the Link opens in new windowhelp and support you can get.

Last update: 10/09/2013

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.

1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

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

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

If you have suffered from a crime in Denmark you can report it to the Link opens in new windowDanish Police. You can do this by going to the nearest police station or by calling 114. In very urgent cases you can call the emergency number 112. If you have become a victim of theft you can also report online by filling in the Link opens in new windowspecial form available on the website of the Danish Police.

There is no obligatory form you have to use when reporting a crime. When you visit a police station or call by phone the police officer to whom you speak will draft a written report. You do not need to sign the report. Anonymous reports are also accepted.

There is no deadline for reporting a crime to the police. However, the law provides for certain time limits after which the crime will not be investigated. After that period you can still submit a report but the police will not open an investigation.

In your report you have to include all relevant information related to the incident as well as any evidence you have at your disposal. It is recommended that you include as much information as possible because based on your report the police will decide whether a crime has been committed and whether an investigation has to be opened.

If you do not speak Danish you can report a crime in a language you understand. If necessary, the police will find an interpreter and translate the relevant documents for you.

In most cases after receiving your report the police will take over and investigate the case. However, if you have become victim of a minor crime like slander or libel you have to go through a different procedure. For such crimes no police investigation takes place and you need to submit a complaint directly to the court. Your complaint must be submitted within six months after you learned about the offence. Based on your complaint the court will start a trial against the alleged offender.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

When you report a crime the police will immediately issue a receipt. The receipt will be handed to you personally or will be sent to you by post. This receipt contains a reference number, which you can use to receive information from the police about the progress of your case. You can also check how your case is proceeding by using your personal registration number or social security number.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

In principle, the investigation of the crime is a responsibility of the police. The police will inform you on a regular basis about important developments regarding your case, e.g. arrest of a suspect. If you wish, you can also check the progress of your case by using the reference number of your receipt or your personal registration number or social security number.

According to Danish law victims are not allowed to be present during investigative actions. If you have a lawyer, he/she may personally check the documentation of the case. Your lawyer may share such information with you only with the consent of the police. After the case is closed you will also be allowed to check the entire documentation.

During the investigation the police and the public prosecutor will collect all the relevant evidence on your case. You as a victim do not need to prove any aspects of the crime you have suffered from. However, if you have some evidence that you wish to present you can give it to the police officer or the public prosecutor in charge of your case.

What are my rights as a witness?

In the course of the investigation you may be asked by the police to appear for an interview as a witness. During the interview you are allowed to remain silent. The only information you are obliged to share with the police at this stage is your personal data (e.g. name, birth date, address).

Every time the police call you for an interview as a witness they will explain to you when and how you can ask for the appointment of a lawyer.

During your interview you will be provided with an interpreter free of charge. The documents related to your interview will also be translated for you free of charge.

If you are victim of violence, threat or a sexual offence and you are expected to appear in court as a witness you will be provided with a contact person from the local police station or prosecution office. This person will assist you when you contact the police or the public prosecution.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a child the court will appoint a lawyer for you who will assist you throughout the proceedings. During the investigation the lawyer will accompany you during your interview at the police. He/she will explain to you the procedure and may also ask you additional questions to help you better understand the questions asked by the police.

If you are a child victim of sexual offence the offender will not be allowed to be present during your interview. Furthermore, you can agree to have your interview videotaped by the police or the prosecutor, which will allow you not to give testimony in court. Instead, the videotape of your interview will be shown to the judges. When your interview during the investigation is videotaped so that it can be used during the trial, the lawyer of the offender may be allowed to be present.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

The police are obliged to provide you with information to help you overcome the consequences of the crime. This information will include:

  • how to appoint a lawyer;
  • how to claim compensation from the offender during the criminal proceedings;
  • how to receive compensation from the State;
  • how to receive counselling from the Link opens in new windowVictims Counselling Service;
  • what your rights and duties as a witness are.

During the investigation the police will inform you about important developments on your case, e.g. the arrest of a suspect. If the police decide to schedule a hearing they will send you or your lawyer a notification about the date and time of the hearing.

If you are a victim of a serious crime like violence or sexual offence the police will also explain to you the expected development of your case.

If the police decide not to open an investigation on your report or to discontinue an ongoing investigation, you as a victim will receive a notification. You will also be notified if the public prosecutor decides to dismiss charges against a suspect. You will receive the same notifications if you are a close relative to a victim who has died as a result of the crime.

Can I receive legal aid?

Free legal aid is available primarily to victims of specific crimes like violence and sexual offences. If you are a victim of violence you can make a request to the court and the court will appoint a lawyer free of charge to represent you. If you are a victim of sexual crime you do not need to make any specific request; the court will automatically appoint a lawyer to represent you.

For other crimes you can also ask the court to appoint a lawyer for you. However, in such cases the court will first consider whether the seriousness of the crime and your specific need of assistance (e.g. low income) justify such an appointment and may reject your request if it finds it unjustified.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

If you are a victim of violence you can ask the police to order the offender not to contact or molest you. Usually, the police will issue such an order if there have been several incidents of harassment or molestation or if there is a serious threat that the offender will continue to molest you in the future.

As a victim of violence you can ask the police to provide you with a special phone with a built in GPS function so that your location can easily be established.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and you live with the offender you can ask the police to ban the offender from staying at your common home. The ban will be lifted if you and your partner resume your relationship.

You can also ask the police and the prosecutor dealing with your case to delete your name and other personal details from the case file before presenting it to other participants in the proceedings. If the crime you have suffered from was a sexual offence this information will be removed from the case file, even without a specific request by you.

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

If you are a victim of violence, threat or a sexual offence and you are expected to appear in court as a witness you will be provided with a contact person from the local police station or prosecution office to assist you when you contact the police or the public prosecution.

Irrespective of the crime you have suffered from you can use the services provided by the Link opens in new windowVictims Counselling Service. The police will explain to you how to get in contact with the Victims Counselling Services.

If you are a victim of robbery, violence or a sexual offence and you have used the assistance of a psychologist you have the right to be reimbursed for part of your expenses for up to 12 consultations.

You can receive medical services free of charge if you have a valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card.

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

In the course of the investigation the police may suggest that you to reconcile with the offender. This means that the offender has confessed the commitment of the crime and is willing to reconcile with you. The outcome of the conciliation procedure will not stop the investigation but may subsequently lead to a lighter penalty for the offender.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

After the completion of the investigation the police or the public prosecutor in charge of your case will decide how to proceed further. If sufficient evidence has been collected to bring charges against the offender the case will be sent to the competent court for a trial. Otherwise the police or the public prosecutor will close the case at this stage.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

The police or the public prosecutor may decide to close the case without bringing it to court. In this case you will receive a notification and will also be allowed to check the entire documentation of the case. You have the right to appeal against the decision to close the case.

  • If the police have closed the case you can submit your appeal to the regional public prosecutor.
  • If the decision to close the investigation was made by a regional public prosecutor, it can be appealed before the Director of Public Prosecutions (the head of the Danish Prosecution Service).

The deadline for submitting the appeal is four weeks.

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

If you are a foreigner you have all the rights described above. If you do not speak Danish you can report a crime in a language you understand. The police are obliged to undertake the necessary measures to accept your report irrespective of the language you use.

During the investigation you will be provided with an interpreter free of charge. The interpreter will assist you during your interview as a witness. The documents related to your interview will also be translated for you free of charge.

More information:

  • Administration of Justice Act (Lovbekendtgørelse nr. 1053 af 29/10/2009 Retsplejeloven) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Act on the Police (Lov nr. 444 af 09.06.2004 Politiloven) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Penal Code (Lov nr. 1034 af 29.10.2009 Straffeloven) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Act No. 467 of 12.06.2009 on legal advice in connection with a criminal offense (Lov nr. 467 af 12.06.2009 om konfliktråd i anledning af en strafbar handling) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Executive Order No. 1108 of 21 September 2007 (Bekendtgørelse nr. 1108 af 21.09.2007 om politiets og anklagemyndighedens pligt til at vejlede og orientere forurettede i straffesager og til at udpege en kontaktperson for forurettede) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Circular Letter No. 10094 of 22.12.2006 amending the system of counselling services (Cirkulæreskrivelse 10094 af 22/12-2006 om ændring af ordningen med offerrådgivningen) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Decree No. 674 of 26.06.2008 on subsidies for psychological treatment of particularly vulnerable groups (Bekendtgørelse nr. 674 af 26.06.2008 om tilskud til psykologbehandling i praksissektoren for særligt udsatte persongrupper) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
Last update: 10/09/2013

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.

2 - My rights during the trial

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 offender or receive compensation from the state?

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

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

More information

How can I be involved in the trial?

During the trial you can be present at all public court hearings. If the court decides to hold a private hearing the judge will decide whether to allow you to stay in the courtroom or not. In practice, in most cases the court will allow you to be present during private hearings unless there are some specific confidentiality concerns. In any case, according to Danish law the sentence is always pronounced at a public court hearing at which you can be present.

Danish law does not allow victims of crime to ask questions to the other participants in the trial.

If you believe there is some evidence relevant to the case you can ask the police officer or the public prosecutor in charge of your case to present it to the court. However, the police officer or the public prosecutor is free to decide whether to present such evidence or not.

If you wish to speak before the court but you have not been called as a witness you can ask the public prosecutor to add you to the list of witnesses. The final decision belongs to the prosecutor who may refuse to call you if he/she believes that your testimony is not necessary to prove the crime.

If the court has interviewed you as a witness during the trial you have the right to receive reimbursement of the expenses (1) you have made to attend the court hearing.

In order to receive reimbursement you need to submit a special reimbursement form, which is available at the Link opens in new windowDanish courts’ website (in Danish). In the form, you need to indicate your bank account. Advance payments are also possible but you need to contact the court for that.

What are my rights as a witness?

You will probably also be called for an interview as a witness. In this case the court may not allow you to be present in the courtroom during the questioning of other persons (the defendant, other witnesses, experts, etc.). The reason for such a decision is that listening to other participants in the trial may influence your own testimony. Once your interview is over you will be allowed to stay in the courtroom and be present at the next hearings.

If you are called for an interview as a witness you have to appear before the court and give testimony. You may refuse to give testimony only if you are a close relative to the defendant.

During your interview your lawyer may ask you additional questions in order to help you better explain the circumstances of the incident.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a child the court will appoint a lawyer for you to assist you throughout the proceedings. During the trial the lawyer will accompany you during your interview in the court. He/she will also explain to you the procedure and may ask you additional questions to help you better understand the questions asked by the judge.

A representative of the municipality will also accompany you and assist you during the interview.

Can I receive legal aid?

You can receive legal aid free of charge during the trial if you have claimed compensation from the offender and your annual income is less than a certain amount: 236.000 Danish Krone (approximately 31.700 euro) if you are single, 300.000 Danish Krone (approximately 40.300 euro) for cohabiting couples and 41.000 Danish Krone (approximately 5.500 euro) for each child under 18 years of age.

If you are victim of violence or sexual offence you can request the appointment of a lawyer free of charge irrespective of your income.

If you are a relative to a victim who has died as a result of the crime, the court will appoint a lawyer for you to assist you for the calculation of compensation.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

You can receive special protection if you are appearing as a witness during the trial.

If you feel uncomfortable to speak in the presence of the defendant you can ask the court to remove him/her from the courtroom during your interview. In this case your testimony will be explained to the defendant afterwards.

Courts are obliged to have separate waiting rooms for victims of crime where you can wait for your interview without meeting the defendant, his/her relatives or other witnesses. This is a relatively new rule and some courts may not have prepared such rooms yet.

If you are afraid of reprisal you can also ask the court not to disclose to the defendant and his/her lawyer your personal data like name, address, occupation, etc.

If you have suffered from a sexual offence you can ask the court to hold a private hearing when you are giving your testimony as a witness. You can also ask the court not to disclose the names of the participants in the trial and to prevent the publication of information in the media about the case. In such cases the court will also delete your name and other personal data from the documentation before granting access to the case file to the other participants in the trial.

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

You have the right to claim compensation from the offender for the damages caused by the crime. During the trial you can ask the public prosecutor to claim damages on your behalf. The court may refuse to consider the claim if it is too complicated to be examined as part of the trial. In this case you can submit a separate claim against the offender before a civil court.

You can also claim compensation from the State. Please consult the Link opens in new windowfactsheets on compensation to victims of crime in the EU Member States of the European Judicial Network.

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

Opportunities for conciliation exist only during the investigation when the police may suggest you reconcile with the offender. The outcome of the conciliation procedure will not close the case but may lead to a lighter penalty for the offender.

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

If you are a foreigner you have all the rights described above.

In addition, if you do not speak Danish and you have been called for an interview as a witness, the court will appoint an interpreter to assist you while giving your testimony.

More information:

  • Administration of Justice Act (Lovbekendtgørelse nr. 1053 af 29/10/2009 Retsplejeloven) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Act No. 467 of 12.06.2009 on legal advice in connection with a criminal offense (Lov nr. 467 af 12.06.2009 om konfliktråd i anledning af en strafbar handling) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Consolidated Act on Liability for Damages (Bekendtgørelse af lov nr. 885 af 20.09.2005 om erstatningsansvar) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Consolidated Act on State Compensation ot Victims of Crime (Bekendtgørelse af lov nr. 688 af 28.06.2004 om erstatning fra staten til ofre for forbrydelser) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Executive Order No. 1108 of 21 September 2007 (Bekendtgørelse nr. 1108 af 21.09.2007 om politiets og anklagemyndighedens pligt til at vejlede og orientere forurettede i straffesager og til at udpege en kontaktperson for forurettede) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
  • Decree No. 79 of 04.02.1998 on community assistance for children and young people during legal interrogation (Bekendtgørelse nr. 79 af 04.02.1998 om kommunens bistand til børn og unge i forbindelse med uden- og indenretlig afhøring) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
Note:

1. Reimbursement of the expenses
If the court has interviewed you as a witness during the trial you will be reimbursed for your expenses. You will receive 80 Danish Krones (approximately 10.50 euro) for the first four hours spent in court. If you have spent more time, including your travel, you will receive additional money depending on the time spent.
Additional expenses related to your participation as a witness (e.g. lost income) can also be reimbursed if you provide documents certifying such expenses (e.g. a statement from your employer with the number of hours and the your daily rate).
Travel expenses are also reimbursed if the distance to the court is more than three km. If you have used a bus, train or ferry, you will be paid the cost of a standard ticket. You will not be reimbursed if you have paid for a taxi. If you have used your own car, you will receive reimbursement, which would normally be equal to the cheapest public transport.
Last update: 10/09/2013

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.

3 - My rights after the (first) trial

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?

Once the trial is over your lawyer will receive a copy of the court decision. With the permission of the court he/she may share this copy with you.

If the public prosecutor has claimed damages on your behalf and the court has decided on that claim you will be notified and will receive a copy of the court decision. The notification and the copy of the decision will be in Danish.

You cannot appeal against the conviction/acquittal of the defendant or against the penalty imposed by the court. You can only appeal against the court decision regarding the claim for compensation, if such a claim has been submitted. Such an appeal is not part of the criminal proceedings and has to be submitted according to rules of civil procedure. The deadlines for appeal are:

  • four weeks when you appeal against a decision of a County Court before the High Court;

eight weeks when you appeal against a decision of the High Court before the Supreme Court.

Is further appeal possible?

Further appeal is possible before the Supreme Court but the right to appeal belongs only to the defendant and the public prosecutor.

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

After the entry into force of the court sentence your role in the proceedings is generally over. Danish law does not provide victims of crime with the right to receive notification about the release of the perpetrator or to make a statement when a decision on the early release of the offender is being discussed.

More information:

  • Administration of Justice Act (Lovbekendtgørelse nr. 1053 af 29/10/2009 Retsplejeloven) – in Link opens in new windowDanish
Last update: 10/09/2013

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.

4 - Help and support for victims of crime

Crime Prevention Council

Victim Counselling Service

Victim Aid Denmark

Centre for Victims of Rape

National Association of Crisis Centres for Women

Reden International

Dannerhuset

Crime Prevention Council

The Crime Prevention Council is a council of representatives of organisations involved in crime prevention activities, focused in particular on prevention of domestic violence and sexual crime.

The Crime Prevention Council

  • is a council consisting of representative of about 50 different authorities, associations and private and public organisations specialised in settlement of conflicts
  • is involved in crime prevention activities, focused in particular on prevention of domestic violence and sexual crime

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.dkr.dk/

Victim Counselling Service

The Victim Counselling Service in Denmark provides material, medical, psychological and social assistance through governmental, voluntary and community-based bodies.

The Victim Counselling Service

  • offers support to victims of burglary, mugging, robbery, threats, violence, rape and many other crimes
  • provides access to the mechanisms of justice and to fair treatment
  • facilitates the claiming of compensation from the offender and from the State
  • provides material, medical, psychological and social assistance through governmental, voluntary and community-based bodies

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.offerraadgivning.dk/

For contact details of the local offices of the Victim Counselling Service click Link opens in new windowhere.

Victim Aid Denmark

Victim Aid Denmark is a national association providing psychological help, legal assistance or help in relation to insurance or damages to victims of violence.

Victim Aid Denmark

  • is a national association providing psychological help, legal assistance and help in relation to insurance or damages to victims of violence
  • helps and guides victims of violence, rape, robbery and incest
  • monitors legislation in the above-mentioned areas and seeks to improve conditions for victims by influencing politicians and ministries
  • is involved in preventative work by means of talks, campaigns, advocacy and exhibitions.

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.voldsofre.dk/

Centre for Victims of Rape

The Centre for Victims of Rape provides medical and psychological assistance to rape victims via eight centres in the country.

The Centre for Victims of Rape

  • has eight regional points in Denmark
  • offers care and support to victims of rape and their dependants provided by specially trained personnel

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.voldtaegt.dk/

National Association of Crisis Centres for Women

LOKK is a coordinating organisation for the crisis centres which provide shelter to women who have been subject to domestic violence.

The National Association of Crisis Centres for Women

  • is the coordinating organisation with the main purpose to highlight and strengthen the individual crisis centres working to prevent and combat physical and psychological violence against women and their children
  • disseminates knowledge, information and experience in this area to the centres
  • establishes centres working in relevant areas
  • strengthens the cooperation between shelters and works with shelters in other Nordic and European countries
  • negotiates with public authorities on shelters' terms

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.lokk.dk/

Reden International

Reden International provides access to the healthcare system, legal assistance, social benefits, preparation of repatriation and accommodation in crisis centres of prostituting victims of human trafficking in Denmark.

Reden International

  • is an organisation providing practical support for foreign women forced to prostitute in Denmark
  • has a national crisis centre, which conducts outreaching social work
  • provides access to the healthcare system, although such women usually do not have legal residence
  • provides legal assistance and representation at questionings and trials
  • facilitates communication with the Danish social system
  • provides assistance before repatriation (contact with local NGOs and support in the native country)
  • offers accommodation in a crisis centre – safe stay with guidance, care and activities
  • provides guidance and care – at all levels in the process based on the individual woman’s situation

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.redeninternational.dk/

Dannerhuset

Danner is a private foundation, which assists victims of domestic violence by providing shelter and/or counselling.

Dannerhuset

  • is a crisis centre and shelter for women victims of domestic violence
  • is run by 25 employees and approximately 200 volunteers
  • is the oldest and the largest crisis centre and shelter for women and children subjected to domestic violence in Denmark
  • is nationally and internationally engaged on the topics of women’s rights and social politics on the basis of its expertise and experience on the subject of domestic violence

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://danner.dk/

Last update: 10/09/2013

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Germany

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, for example you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen as a result of an incident which constitutes a crime according to national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Criminal proceedings in Germany start with investigations that are conducted by the police and the public prosecution office. If there is insufficient evidence against the suspect to press charges, the public prosecution office terminates the proceedings. If, on the other hand, sufficient evidence is available, the public prosecution office will prefer public charges against the suspect before a court. It may, however, also terminate proceedings by way of exception, for example if the suspect has made reparations for material damage caused to you or has fulfilled certain conditions and instructions.

If the court opens the main proceedings following the indictment, it will examine the evidence against the accused at a hearing in court. If it finds the accused guilty, it will convict him and set a penalty. The court may, however, also terminate the proceedings against the accused, for example if the accused shows remorse and has participated in victim-offender mediation. If the evidence against the accused is insufficient, the court must acquit him. If a judgment is handed down, the criminal proceedings may be continued in a higher court following an appeal.

You as a victim can take part in criminal proceedings as a witness or have a more active role by formally becoming a private prosecutor or private accessory prosecutor and thus benefit from a variety of rights available to you. As a private prosecutor you will take the place of the public prosecutor; as a private accessory prosecutor you will take part in the proceedings alongside the public prosecutor.

The following fact sheets will take you through the different stages in the proceedings, describing your rights Link opens in new windowduring the investigation of the crimeLink opens in new windowduring the court proceedings and Link opens in new windowafter the first court proceedings. You can also find out more about the Link opens in new windowhelp and support you can get.

Last update: 13/04/2018

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.

1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from the police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive financial support to exercise my rights or legal aid?

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

Are there opportunities to reach a settlement/for conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

How will my case continue after the end of the investigations?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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

Further information

How and where can I report a crime?

If you become a victim of a crime, you can report an offence to:

  • any police station or police officer;
  • any public prosecution office;
  • any local court.

You can do so in writing or orally. In the latter case, written minutes will be produced by the authority accepting the report. The report (referred to as 'filing information of a criminal offence' in Germany) should be made in German if possible in order to avoid a delay in processing and can also be submitted by another person and you do not need to authorise him/her specifically.

The information of a criminal offence should include your name, your address and your telephone number, in case there are any questions. It is important that you quote all the details you have about the suspect and the offence when reporting the crime in order to make it easier for the police and the public prosecution office to check your details and institute initial investigations.

There is no specific time-limit for the filing of information of a criminal offence. However, certain offences can only be prosecuted if you have filed an application for criminal prosecution. An application for criminal prosecution must be filed within three months after you get to know about the offence and the perpetrator with a court or the public prosecution office or orally for the records with the police. The institution where you file information of a criminal offence will inform you about what types of crimes will require you to file an application for criminal prosecution. The public prosecution office will, however, only officially pursue certain crimes if it is in the public interest. If that is not the case, you can prefer private charges against the accused in order to have him brought to account. You will then take the place of the public prosecutor.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

You will be given a reference number by the authority accepting your report. You can follow up on what the police do and submit further information using the number you received from them. At a later stage, you can also ask the police or the public prosecution office for the public prosecutor’s file number for your case, which will be different from the number quoted by the police. It is preferable to cite reference numbers and file numbers when contacting the authorities, unless you actually do not know them.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

Before the investigation is closed, you will have the status of a witness. You can contact the authorities at any time and give them additional evidence or information. The victims of crime - who are known as the 'aggrieved person' in the Code of Criminal Procedure - have more comprehensive rights, such as the right to apply for information regarding whether the suspect is in custody, under certain circumstances the right to inspect the files or to obtain information from the files, the right to avail yourself of the services of a lawyer or to be represented in court by a lawyer. If you are a victim of a crime and you are entitled to act as a private accessory prosecutor, a lawyer may already be assigned to you at public expense during the investigation proceedings. You can be heard by the police, the prosecutor or a judge, and you always need to answer their questions truthfully. If you are invited by the police for questioning, you are not obliged to appear. You are obliged to appear if you receive a summons from the public prosecutor or a judge.

If you are summoned for questioning, you have the following rights:

  • to be informed about your rights in the summons, including the possibility of getting assistance;
  • to refuse to testify if you are or were married or engaged to the suspect (the same applies to registered same-sex partnerships) or he/she is your close relative;
  • to refuse to answer specific questions if they might lead to you or your relatives being prosecuted; questions that might dishonour you or belong to your private life may be asked only if absolutely essential;
  • to be accompanied by a person you trust, unless his/her presence would endanger the purpose of the investigations;
  • to be accompanied by a lawyer, who might be excluded if he/she would make the hearing of evidence difficult;
  • to be supported during questioning by a lawyer at public expense if you are unable to exercise your rights yourself;
  • to have your following expenses reimbursed if you apply within three months of your questioning to the authority questioning you: travel costs, expenses incurred, loss of time, disadvantages in housekeeping or loss of earning (up to certain limits); however, you cannot usually get reimbursement for ordinary police questioning.

You are not obliged to provide evidence that a crime has been committed. Finding evidence against the accused is the sole task of the police and the public prosecution office.

You have no right to an interpreter free of charge during your examination as witness, but the relevant institutions will normally ensure that your testimony is translated.

If your rights have been violated on account of an offence, a lawyer may inspect the files on your behalf and examine exhibits if he/she can show legitimate interest in doing so. If you do show such an interest, then you may also receive information from or copies of the files so that you may know what stage the proceedings have reached. If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor after the indictment, you or your lawyer no longer need to show a legitimate interest in order to be able to inspect the files or receive information.

The right to inspect the files or receive information from the files may, under certain conditions, be denied during the preliminary investigations, for example if the purpose of the investigations would be endangered. Until charges are preferred and after the proceedings have been concluded by final decision the public prosecution office, otherwise the court dealing with the matter, will decide whether your lawyer will be permitted to inspect the files or whether you can be given information from or copies of the files. If the public prosecution office is responsible, it may authorise the police to do so.

What are my rights as a witness?

When you are called by the public prosecutor as witness the public prosecution office is obligated to inform you not only about your duties but also about your rights as the aggrieved person of a criminal offence. It may also sometimes be possible for your children to be looked after while you are being questioned.

Questions that can bring dishonour to you or belong to your private life may only be asked if they are absolutely essential. The same applies to your relatives.

You have the right to be accompanied during your examination as witness by a person you trust, unless their presence would endanger the purpose of the investigation. That decision is taken by the person conducting the examination.

You likewise have the right to avail yourself of legal counsel during your examination as witness. A witness who does not have legal counsel and is in need of protection may be assigned legal counsel at public expense for the duration of the examination.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 18 years of age, your hearing can be video- and audio-taped, which may possibly even relieve you from appearing at another hearing or even in court.

The public prosecution office is required to conduct the investigations particularly quickly.

What information can I obtain from the police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

At the police level, you will usually get information on whether the proceedings are still ongoing or already closed. The police must be authorised by the public prosecution office to provide you with any information beyond that. Moreover, the police or the public prosecutor has to give you the following information as soon as possible:

  • information about your rights to take part in the criminal procedure as the aggrieved person;
  • the possibility that, under certain circumstances, you can join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor and that a so-called victims' lawyer can be assigned to you if need be;
  • the possibility of getting help and support from a victim support organisation;
  • the possibility of asserting a claim for compensation against the accused during the criminal proceedings;
  • the possibility of asserting a claim for compensation in accordance with the Crime Victims Compensation Act;
  • the possibility of applying for orders to be issued against the accused in accordance with the Protection Against Violence Act.

Can I receive financial support to exercise my rights or legal aid?

If circumstances show that you are unable to exercise your rights yourself during your examination as witness, you may be assigned a lawyer at public expense for the duration of your examination

If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, you may, in certain cases, even be assigned a victims' lawyer even before public charges are preferred. If you do not fulfil the relevant criteria, you have the right, since you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, to legal aid and can apply for this if your financial situation does not allow you to pay for the costs of the proceedings yourself and you cannot sufficiently safeguard your interests yourself or it is unreasonable for you to be expected to do so.

As a private prosecutor (1), you can apply for legal aid to the court which will rule on your case. Legal aid will be given to you if your financial situation will not allow you to pay for the proceedings yourself and their success is likely.

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

When reporting a crime or testifying as a witness, if you or others will be endangered if you give your actual address of residence, you can give another address to which authorities can send you correspondence (e.g. summons to a hearing in court). You can even be allowed to remain completely anonymous.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can apply to a civil court for a protection order to have the accused ejected from your joint home and to ban him from approaching you. In the interests of protecting children, the person(s) having custody (generally the parents) may be denied those custody rights entirely or in part. The same applies to access rights (including contact). The police can also send the offender away from the family home or arrest him/her before the court order is issued.

If you are testifying in the proceedings and

  • your testimony is essential,
  • your body, life, health, freedom or important material goods are endangered,
  • you agree to the proposed victim protection measures, and
  • the measures are appropriate to your situation,

you and your relatives or other close relatives, if necessary, may be included in a witness protection programme. The programme includes the explicit possibility of temporarily assuming another identity.

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

There are numerous non-governmental organisations offering assistance. You must be informed about the possibility of contacting such an organisation in your area and must be given contact details. You can also consult a special Link opens in new windowbooklet in German which provides additional information on assistance to victims and witnesses. The booklet is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Justice. It is entitled "Opferfibel - Rechtswegweiser für Opfer einer Straftat" (Primer for Victims - A Guide to the Law for Victims of Crime).

You can also receive medical assistance, but you may be asked to pay for it unless you have valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card.

Are there opportunities to reach a settlement/for conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

If you and the accused agree to it, you have the option of conducting mediation proceedings, known as 'victim-offender mediation' in Germany. The public prosecution office and the court must examine at each stage of the proceedings whether there is a possibility of reaching a settlement between the accused and the victim of a crime and, in suitable cases, they must work towards such a settlement being reached. The victim-offender mediation itself does not normally take place in the context of the criminal proceedings, and often involves a specially trained mediator. Victim-offender mediation can only begin if both parties are willing to participate. The accused must therefore to a certain extent admit to by his responsibility for the wrong he/she has committed. Often payments or other forms of compensation are agreed during victim-offender mediation.

Also, in the case of certain offences such as trespass, defamation, violation of privacy of correspondence and bodily injury, you will only be able to act as a private prosecutor after an attempt at conciliation, which is conducted on the premises of the special conciliation board of the federal Länder.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Once the investigations have been completed, the public prosecution office will decide whether there are sufficient grounds for indicting the suspect. If that is the case, it will prefer public charges before a court. In the case of certain criminal offences, for example bodily injury, you may join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor. To do so, you must make a written declaration before that court where the charges are preferred. A declaration regarding your joining the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor which the court receives before charges are preferred will not take effect until the public charges have actually been preferred.

The public prosecution office may, however, also terminate proceedings, for example if the suspect's guilt was to be regarded as of a minor nature and there is no public interest in the prosecution. That is, for instance, the case if the suspect has no previous convictions, compensates the damage arising or has fulfilled other conditions and instructions. Generally, the court will be required to agree to the proceedings being terminated in this way. If the public prosecution office terminates proceedings - regardless of why - you will be informed of that fact.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

You as the aggrieved person can appeal the public prosecutor’s decision to terminate proceedings on account of the lack of sufficient suspicion of an offence within two weeks. If the chief public prosecutor upholds the decision, you, through a lawyer, can file an application for a court decision or conduct the proceedings as a private prosecutor within one month of being notified of the chief public prosecutor's decision.

You only have the option of filing a request for administrative review against decisions by the public prosecution office to terminate proceedings based on their discretionary powers, for instance on account of the minor nature of the suspect's guilt.

You cannot in principle terminate ongoing proceedings which the public prosecution office is officially conducting against the suspect. The opposite is the case if you have filed an application for criminal prosecution and subsequently withdraw it. That can, for instance, be possible in the case of certain crimes, for instance trespass or defamation. In the case of other crimes for which an application can be filed there may be a special public interest in the offences being prosecuted. That applies, for instance, to criminal offences such as theft and misappropriation. Further, in the case of certain crimes you can take the place of the public prosecution office and file a private prosecution against the suspect, and you may withdraw it at any point during the proceedings.

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

If you file information of a criminal offence that was committed elsewhere in Europe, the criminal prosecution authorities must as a matter of principle pass on your information to the relevant criminal prosecution authority in the other Member State if criminal prosecution is not possible in Germany for certain reasons.

If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, the court will, upon application, assign you an interpreter free of charge if this is necessary for you to exercise your rights in the criminal proceedings.

If you are a victim of human trafficking, you can, under certain circumstances, get a temporary residence permit to stay in Germany until the end of the criminal proceedings if you have declared that you will give testimony.

Further information:

  • German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Courts Constitution Act (Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Act to Harmonise Protection for Witnesses (Zeugenschutzharmonisierungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Protection Against Violence Act (Gewaltschutzgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Youth Courts Law (Jugendgerichtsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act (Justizvergütungs- und -entschädigungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Crime Victims Compensation Act (Opferentschädigungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
Note:

1. Private prosecutor
The right of a private prosecutor to institute criminal proceedings is restricted to a few rather minor criminal offences against a person. You can benefit from this right if no public charges are preferred as a result of you having filed information of a criminal offence. To be able to do that you must may a fee and will then take the place of the public prosecutor in the proceedings, i.e. you will be involved in the proceedings and heard as the public prosecutor normally would be. You may also be represented by a lawyer, whereby the court may also require you to appear in court in person.
Last update: 13/04/2018

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.

2 - My rights during the trial

How can I be involved in the court proceedings?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

Can I receive financial support to exercise my rights or legal aid?

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

How can I claim damages from the offender or receive compensation from the state?

Are there opportunities to reach a settlement/for conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

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

Further information

How can I be involved in the court proceedings?

As a witness, you will be informed of the day of the hearing. After giving testimony, you are allowed to be present at the proceedings even if they are not public (e.g. proceedings against juvenile offenders).

You have the right to be accompanied and to be represented by a lawyer. You can also have your following expenses reimbursed if you apply within three months of your questioning: travel costs, expenses incurred, loss of time, disadvantages in housekeeping or loss of earnings.

For your protection the accused may, under certain conditions, be excluded from taking part in the hearing in court. In addition, most courts have separate waiting areas for witnesses and witness liaison and support.

As a private accessory prosecutor (1), you have the right to be summoned to participate in the proceedings. You have the right to be present even if you are to be examined as a witness afterwards, but you are only obliged to be present if you are giving testimony. Your right to be present also applies to proceedings which are not public.

As a private accessory prosecutor you also have the following special rights:

  • to ask questions;
  • to give statements;
  • to file a motion to hear evidence;
  • to ask the court to replace judges or experts because of suspected bias;
  • to object against questions or orders of the presiding judge.

As a private accessory prosecutor you are also entitled to be assigned an interpreter free of charge by the court if this is necessary for you to exercise your rights in the criminal proceedings. You are in particular entitled to an interpreter free of charge during the hearing in court and when preparing your own actions during the proceedings, also during any subsequent appeal proceedings. To be assigned an interpreter you must file an application with the court

Likewise, as a private accessory prosecutor you will, in certain cases, have the right to be assigned what is known as a 'victims' lawyer' free of charge. This is particularly relevant if you are the victim of certain serious crimes of aggression and are suffering serious consequences.

As a private prosecutor your rights to information and to participate in the proceedings are comparable to those of a public prosecutor in normal proceedings.

If your rights have been violated on account of a criminal offence, a lawyer may inspect the files on your behalf and examine exhibits if he/she shows a legitimate interest in doing so. If you show such a legitimate interest, you may also be given information from or copies of the files so that you may know what stage the proceedings have reached. If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, neither you or your lawyer must show a legitimate interest in order to be able to inspect the files or receive information.

What are my rights as a witness?

As a witness, you will be informed of the day of the hearing. After giving testimony as a witness you are generally allowed to be present at the proceedings.

You have the right to be accompanied by a lawyer. You can also have your following expenses reimbursed if you apply within three months of your questioning: travel costs, expenses incurred, loss of time, disadvantages in housekeeping or loss of earning (up to a certain limit).

Questions that can bring dishonour to you or belong to your private life may only be asked if absolutely essential. The same applies to your relatives.

For your protection the accused may, under certain conditions, be excluded from taking part in the hearing in court. In addition, most courts have separate waiting areas for witnesses and witness liaison and support..

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 18 years of age, in cases of certain serious offences, your questioning in court may be substituted by a judicial hearing in advance, which is video- and audio-taped. The accused and his/her lawyer need to have been given the opportunity to take part in this examination, which is also possible via live audio-visual transmission. Additional questions to you during the trial are still possible.

Only the presiding judge at the court may examine you as witness, i.e. you will not be asked any questions directly by the accused or his/her defence counsel.

Conditions under which the public may be excluded from your examination as a witness and under which the accused may not be present in the court room are less strict. If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor (1), conditions regarding your being supported by a lawyer at public expense are also less strict.

Can I receive financial support to exercise my rights or legal aid?

As a private accessory prosecutor (1) or if you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, you can, in certain cases, be supported by a lawyer at public expense in cases of certain serious offences, like attempted murder or manslaughter, rape, robbery with serious damages, etc.

In other cases, you can, as a private accessory prosecutor or if you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, still apply to the court for legal aid if you are unable to safeguard your own interests or this cannot be expected of you.

You must on request be granted legal aid as soon as the claim has been made if your personal and financial circumstances mean that you are unable to afford the costs of conducting the proceedings, or if you can only afford to pay part of them or only to pay them in instalments.

As a witness you may be assigned a lawyer for the duration of your examination as witness if you cannot exercise your rights yourself during your examination.

How can I get protection if I am in danger?

It is possible to obtain a protection order against the offender, who would be prohibited from approaching you.

As a witness, if your confrontation with the offender or your questioning in the presence of him/her or his/her lawyer would cause imminent risk of serious harm to you, your questioning can take place in a different room and can be broadcast into the courtroom. You can also be examined in the courtroom without the accused being present, but the examination will generally be broadcast to him/her and he/she can ask you questions via telephone or computer.

If you are testifying in the proceedings and

  • your testimony is essential,
  • your body, life, health, freedom or important material goods are endangered,
  • you agree to the proposed victim protection measures, and
  • the measures are appropriate to your situation,

you and your relatives or others in a close relationship with you, if necessary, may be included in a witness protection programme. The programme includes the explicit possibility of temporarily assuming another identity.

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

You can bring a civil claim for compensation for the damage you have sustained against the accused within the criminal proceedings. This is possible only if you have not claimed damages from the offender before another court. Within the criminal proceedings, the court will decide on your claim as part of the judgment on the accused's guilt.

You may also be entitled to compensation from the state. Please consult the fact sheet on compensation to crime victims in Germany (available in Link opens in new windowGerman, Link opens in new windowEnglish and other languages) of the European Judicial Network or the brochure published by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs entitled 'Hilfe für Opfer von Gewalttaten' (Help for Victims of Violent Crime). You will also find detailed information about the law on the compensation of victims of violent crime on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in  Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish).

Key aspects of the law on the compensation of victims of violent crime in brief:

Compensation has been paid to victims of violent crimes in Germany on the basis of the Crime Victims Compensation Act since 1976. There are few other countries in the world that offer such wide-ranging assistance to those affected. What is special about the Crime Victims Compensation Act? It entitles victims of violent crimes to receive compensation regardless of other social systems. That was important in 1976 and is still important today, because the victims of crime often not only suffer physical consequences. They often also suffer quite considerable economic damage. That is, however, not always entirely compensated by means of pensions paid by the statutory pension scheme, by private insurance schemes or income support.

At the same time, civil-law claims for compensation against the perpetrator very rarely compensate for the actual damage incurred. In those cases the Crime Victims Compensation Act is intended to guarantee people who have suffered damage to health on account of a violent crime appropriate economic support.

The idea on which the compensation is based is to guarantee support for the people who have suffered damage to their health and to compensate the economic consequences of this damage. That is why, under the Crime Victims Compensation Act, victims of violent crime receive the same compensation as war victims, e.g. treatment and - in the case of permanent damage - a pension.

Who is entitled to compensation according to the Crime Victims Compensation Act?

Compensation is not only paid for all damage to health resulting from a wilful, unlawful physical assault (e.g. manslaughter, bodily injury, sexual coercion), but also for the economic consequences of that damage to health. Psychological consequences are likewise recognised as damage to health. By contrast, no compensation is paid for damage to property or assets. Nor can damages be paid on the basis of the Crime Victims Compensation Act.

Who is entitled to receive compensation?

The Crime Victims Compensation Act not only applies to Germans. EU citizens, for example, receive the same compensation. Other foreigners who are regularly resident in Germany and have become victim of a wilful act of violence in Germany also have the right to compensation, the extent of which will be geared to the length of their stay in Germany. In order to avoid unjust legal consequences, in the case of the victims of trafficking in women and human trafficking, the time of the filing of an application is decisive in regard to the legality of their residence under the Crime Victims Compensation Act, in which the residency should generally be legal on the grounds of public interest or for humanitarian reasons. The precondition is that the victims are needed as witnesses in criminal proceedings against the operators or organisers of trafficking rings.

Tourists who fall victim to a violent crime in Germany can, under special circumstances, receive a one-off hardship payment.

In the case of death resulting from a violent crime, compensation may also be paid to family members (surviving dependants, life partners, children and, under certain circumstances, to parents).

What forms of compensation are available according to the Crime Victims Compensation Act?

The extent and amount of compensation to which victims of violent crime are entitled is always based on the regulations of social compensation law that are also applicable to war victims and surviving dependants of war victims. Various different forms of compensation are possible:

  • Curative treatment, which will continue indefinitely if the damage to health as a result of the offence continues;
  • Medicines and aids (medication, prosthetics, dentures, glasses, etc.);
  • Rehabilitation measures (e.g. treatment at a health resort):
  • Non-means-tested and means-tested monthly pension payments;
  • Additional assistance, e.g. home help, care assistance if needed.

Does the Crime Victims Compensation Act also apply to violent crimes committed before its entry into force?

Often the consequences of a violent crime only manifest themselves years after the event. It is, for instance, possible that the offence was committed before 18 May 1976, i.e. before the entry into force of the Crime Victims Compensation Act, but its consequences do not manifest until now. That is why the Act contains a hardship clause for violent crimes that occurred in the period between 23 May 1949 and 15 May 1976. Accordingly, victims who are suffering serious consequences and their surviving dependants can receive compensation if their other income does not exceed certain income thresholds which are dependant on the extent of the damage incurred.

In principle, however, the Crime Victims Compensation Act only applies to violent crimes that were committed after its entry into force.

Does the Crime Victims Compensation Act also apply to violent crimes committed outside of Germany?

In summer 2009 the scope of application of the Crime Victims Compensation Act was extended to include violent crimes committed abroad. Thus, Germans, EU citizens and foreigners living legally in Germany with a secure residence status who became victim of a violent crime abroad after 1 July 2009 now also have a right to claim compensation. Since, however, these are pure welfare benefits; they are subject to stricter rules regarding allowances and disqualification than compensation granted to those who suffer violent crimes in Germany.

Under what formal conditions is compensation provided?

Anyone claiming compensation under the Crime Victims Compensation Act must submit an application.
N.B.: There is no deadline for applications.

The relevant administration in that federal Land in which the violent crime occurred is responsible for taking a decision on the application. In the case of violent crimes committed abroad, that administration of the federal Land in which the applicant is resident shall decide on the application.

Are there opportunities to reach a settlement/for conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

If you and the accused agree to it, you have the option of conducting mediation proceedings, known as 'victim-offender mediation' in Germany. The public prosecution office and the court must examine at each stage of the proceedings whether there is a possibility of reaching a settlement between the accused and the victim of a crime and, in suitable cases, they must work towards such a settlement being reached. The victim-offender mediation itself does not take place in the context of the criminal proceedings, and often involves a specially trained mediator. Victim-offender mediation can only begin if both parties are willing to participate. The accused must therefore to a certain extent admit to by his responsibility for the wrong he/she has committed. Often payments or other forms of compensation are agreed during victim-offender mediation..

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

As a private accessory prosecutor you have the right to be assigned an interpreter free of charge by the court if it is necessary so that you can exercise your rights in the criminal proceedings. You are in particular entitled to an interpreter free of charge during the hearing in court or when preparing your actions in the proceedings, and in addition during possible subsequent appeal proceedings. You must apply to the court to be assigned an interpreter.

If you are a victim of human trafficking, you can, under certain circumstances, get a temporary residence permit to stay in Germany until the end of the criminal proceedings if you have declared that you will give testimony.

Further information

  • German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Act to Harmonise Protection for Witnesses (Zeugenschutzharmonisierungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Protection Against Violence Act (Gewaltschutzgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Youth Courts Law (Jugendgerichtsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act (Justizvergütungs- und -entschädigungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung) – in Link opens in new windowGerman
  • Crime Victims Compensation Act (Opferentschädigungsgesetz) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
Note:

1. Private accessory prosecutor
As soon as the public prosecutor has sent the indictment to the court, you can then join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor in order to be actively involved in the proceedings and to complement the work of the public prosecutor. You can already declare that you will be joining the proceedings during the preliminary investigations and you can, under certain circumstances, already be assigned a lawyer. Those who are authorised to join the proceedings as private accessory prosecutors are firstly the victims of certain criminal offences against a person, such as sexual violence, bodily injury, trafficking in humans, stalking and attempted homicide, and secondly the victims of all types of criminal offences as a result of which they suffer serious consequences. If the accused is a juvenile, you can become a private accessory prosecutor only by way of exception.
There is no time-limit for joining proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor. You can do so even after the judgment if you want to appeal it. You may be supported and represented by a lawyer.
Last update: 13/04/2018

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.

3 - My rights after the (first) trial

Can I appeal against the court's judgment or decision?

Is further appeal possible?

What rights do I have after the judgment becomes final?

Further information

Can I appeal against the court's judgment or decision ?

As a private accessory prosecutor or if you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor, you can in principle appeal a judgment. However, an appeal is not possible, for example, if you are merely not satisfied with the sentence. If you or your lawyer are present at the hearing, the time-limit for your appeal starts with the pronouncement of the judgment. Otherwise it starts after the judgment is sent to you. The deadline is usually one week.

As a private prosecutor you have rights that are comparable to those of a public prosecutor in normal proceedings.

Is further appeal possible?

You may file further appeals in line with the provisions applicable to the relevant instance.

What rights do I have after the judgment becomes final?

If you apply for it, you have the right to be informed whether proceedings have been terminated, how the trial has ended, including whether the accused has been instructed not to contact you or communicate with you. You can also be informed whether a custodial measure has been ordered against the accused or has ended or - in the event of a legitimate interest - whether a relaxation of the conditions of detention or leave has been granted for the first time. You can only get a copy of the judgment if you are a private accessory prosecutor.

If you apply in writing, you may receive information about where the accused is living after he/she is released from prison and about his/her financial situation if you are intending to make a claim related to the crime.

You can continue to be covered by protection measures if the threat against you persists.

Further information:

  • German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) – in Link opens in new windowGerman and in Link opens in new windowEnglish.
Note:

1. Private accessory prosecutor
As soon as the public prosecutor has sent the indictment to the court, you can then join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor in order to be actively involved in the proceedings and to complement the work of the public prosecutor. You can already declare that you will be joining the proceedings during the preliminary investigations and you can, under certain circumstances, already be assigned a lawyer. Those who are authorised to join the proceedings as private accessory prosecutors are firstly the victims of certain criminal offences against a person, such as sexual violence, bodily injury, trafficking in humans, stalking and attempted homicide, and secondly the victims of all types of criminal offences as a result of which they suffer serious consequences. If the accused is a juvenile, you can become a private accessory prosecutor only by way of exception.
There is no time-limit for joining proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor. You can do so even after the judgment if you want to appeal it. You may be supported and represented by a lawyer.
Last update: 13/04/2018

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.

4 - Help and support for victims of crime

Federal Ministry of Justice

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Weißer Ring (White Ring)

Working Group of Victim Support in Germany

Federal Ministry of Justice

The Federal Ministry of Justice provides victims of crime with different kinds of information and its other activities contribute to the better protection of their rights.

The Federal Ministry of Justice is primarily responsible for drafting legislation. Within that framework it, for instance, elaborates draft laws that protect the rights of victims in the context of criminal proceedings.

  • The Directorate-General R 'Judicial System' is responsible for the protection of victims' rights and the interests of victims in criminal proceedings.
  • The Directorate-General II 'Criminal Law' includes the Juvenile Criminal Law, the Crime Prevention and the Victim-Offender Mediation Departments.
  • The Directorate-General I 'Civil Law' drafts laws in the field of civil law and is, among other things, responsible for the Protection Against Violence Act.
  • The Federal Ministry of Justice also provides information, for example the leaflet Link opens in new windowOpferfibel ("Opferfibel - Rechtswegweiser für Opfer einer Straftat"; Primer for Victims - A Guide to the Law for Victims of Crime), which is written in simple language and explains the legal situation of victims of crime and gives advice, the brochure entitled "Ich habe Rechte" (I have Rights), which is aimed at young people who have become victims of crime, and by disseminating brochures on victim-offender mediation and the Protection Against Violence Act. These brochures are all available for download on the Federal Ministry of Justice's website.

CONTACT:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.bmjv.de/EN/Home/home_node.html

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for legislation in the field of the law of social compensation, which includes the law on compensation for the victims of violent crime.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for legislation in regard to the law of victim compensation, among other things. It has published a brochure entitled "Link opens in new windowHilfe für Opfer von Gewalttaten" (Help for Victims of Violent Crime), which is available for download and can also be ordered from the following address: Link opens in new windowinfo@bmas.bund.de

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is responsible for the protection of women and children against violence.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is active in the field of the protection of children and women.

Directorate-General 4 (Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities) deals with general and specific issues regarding the combating of violence against women, and cooperates with the Federation, the Länder, local authorities and non-governmental organisations on the implementation of the German Government's Action Plan II on Combating Violence Against Women. In addition, it chairs the two Federal-Länder Working Groups "Trafficking in Women" and "Domestic Violence". The Action Plan II, diverse information and studies on the issue of violence are available for download on the website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Directorate-General 5 (Children and Youth) is responsible for the protection of children and youth. It is thus responsible for the Child and Youth Services Act (Social Code Book VIII), which contains regulations governing the promotion and development of children and youth and for the protection of their best interests by means of a wide range of services.

In particular, this Directorate-General is also active in boosting prevention and victim protection of children and youth.

  • Help is available on a Link opens in new windowwebsite set up as part of a prevention campaign launched by the Ministry (in German). The page has a link to a database of advice centres across the whole of Germany.
  • The guide "Mutig fragen - besonnen handeln" (Daring Questions - Prudent Action) contains advice and information on sexual violence against girls and boys specifically for parents. It is available for download on the Link opens in new windowMinistry's website (in German)
  • Information on child and youth protection is available on the Link opens in new windowMinistry's website (in German).

CONTACT:

Link opens in new windowhttps://www.bmfsfj.de/

Weißer Ring (White Ring)

The White Ring is a non-profit organisation providing services to victims in and outside of courts that is active not only on a local level, but also all over Germany. It has 420 branches with around 3000 people working on a voluntary, unpaid basis.

The White Ring

  • offers advice to victims
  • provides help in dealing with authorities and courts
  • facilitates access to free first consultations with a lawyer of the victim’s own choice
  • facilitates access to free first medical/psychological consultations if the victim is suffering from stress following a crime
  • accompanies victims to court
  • offers financial support
  • works in lobbying and crime prevention
  • implements projects for victim compensation and victim-offender mediation

CONTACT:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://weisser-ring.de/

Working Group of Victim Support in Germany

The Working Group of Victim Support in Germany is a non-profit organisation founded in 1988 as a union of various victim support organisations in Germany working with social workers.

The Working Group of Victim Support in Germany

  • focuses on providing the following advice and support to the victims of crime through its regional member organisations:
    • advisory services for victims
    • help in dealing with authorities
    • psychological crisis intervention and arranging for medical treatment and therapies
    • legal advice or arranging for legal advice
    • accompanying victims to the police, authorities and courts
    • carrying out or arranging victim-offender mediation
  • contributes to an exchange of information and experience as well as cooperation with other German and international (especially European) organisations active in the field of victim support

CONTACT:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.opferhilfen.de/

Last update: 13/04/2018

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Estonia

You will be considered a victim of crime (injured party) if you have suffered direct physical, material or moral injury as the result of an unlawful act, for example you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, etc. as a result of an incident which constitutes a crime according to national law. As a victim of crime, the law accords you certain rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Criminal proceedings in Estonia begin with pre-trial proceedings, which in general are conducted by the police and the prosecutor and during which evidence is gathered about the perpetrated crime and the alleged offender. If there is sufficient evidence, the case will go to trial. The trial will end with the court either convicting or acquitting the accused. In the event of a conviction, the court will also rule on the civil action brought before the court, but in the event of an acquittal the action will be dismissed. In this case it is possible to claim compensation in civil proceedings. The court may decide to fully or partially satisfy the civil action, not satisfy the action or dismiss it. If you do not agree with the ruling, you may appeal the case to a higher court.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

When contacting the authority, you will get information on:

  • how to report the crime; and
  • any victim support services that are available without reporting the crime.

Guidance is also available on the website of the Link opens in new windowPolice and Border Guard Board.

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

Your rights will be protected regardless of the EU country where you fell victim to the crime. You can report the crime and, if necessary, receive victim support services both in the country where the crime took place and in the country where you live.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

When you report a crime, you are entitled to receive the following information:

  • at your request, a written acknowledgement that you have reported a crime;
  • a notification, within ten days, on the decision to commence or not commence criminal proceedings;
  • if criminal proceedings are commenced, you will be questioned as a victim and asked whether you wish to receive information on the arrest and release of the suspect, and the time and place of the trial; furthermore,
  • when the preliminary investigation of the case is completed, the public prosecutor will notify you that you are entitled to examine the contents of the criminal file.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

Anyone who does not understand or speak Estonian is entitled to interpretation during the proceedings. You are entitled, on request, to receive a translation of any text that is essential for understanding the ruling on the termination of criminal proceedings or the court judgment or for ensuring the fairness of the proceedings.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

The authorities must ensure that you understand what is explained to you and are understood. For this purpose, information sheets in easy-to-understand language and trained specialists are available at the police station or prosecutor’s office. You are also always entitled to a sign language interpreter.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Victim support services are provided by the Link opens in new windowEstonian National Social Insurance Board.

If you are a victim of violence against women, you may also turn to Link opens in new windowwomen’s refuges for help.

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

The police will inform you about victim support services and refer you to a victim support worker if necessary. Many police stations have a victim support worker present at all times.

How is my privacy protected?

All information gathered in the course of criminal proceedings is confidential and will not be shared with the public before the public trial. The court may also declare that your trial will be held in camera, in which case the information discussed during the trial will also not be accessible to the public.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

No, everyone has access to general victim support, whether or not they have reported a crime. However, there are specific victim support services, such as compensation to victims of violence or allowance for psychological support, which you can only access after you have reported a crime.

Personal protection if I’m in danger

What types of protection are available?

You can ask the prosecutor to request that the court issue a temporary restraining order against the suspect. A temporary restraining order instructs the suspect to stay away from places specified by the court and not to approach or communicate with persons specified by the court.

You may also be protected by witness protection measures applied by the police at the request of the prosecutor’s office.

Who can offer me protection?

If you are in danger, contact the police and they will ensure your safety.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

The police must assess every case, ensuring that any harm is prevented.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

All the authorities conducting the proceedings are always required to consider your interests and prevent you from undergoing secondary victimisation during the criminal proceedings.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

If you are a victim of a serious crime, you may be allowed not to be questioned in court; alternatively, a telehearing may be allowed or a partition used to hide you from the view of the accused during your questioning in court.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

The authority conducting the proceedings may involve a child protection official, social worker or psychologist in the questioning of a victim who is a minor. This is mandatory in serious cases if the person conducting the proceedings has not received appropriate training.

If you are a victim who is a minor and your interests are in conflict with those of your legal representative or your parents, the authority conducting the proceedings may appoint an advocate for you free of charge as legal aid.

Minors with mental disorders and all children under 10 years of age, or children under 14 years of age in cases of domestic or sexual violence, will not be questioned in court. Instead, the police interview with the minor will be recorded on video and may be used as evidence in court.

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

If your family member died because of the crime, you have all the rights of a victim during the proceedings.

My family member was a victim of crime – what are my rights?

If your family member was a victim of crime, you are entitled to receive victim support services similarly to the victim if necessary.

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

With your consent and that of the suspect, the prosecutor’s office may decide to terminate the criminal proceedings by conciliation (mediation). The conciliation service is provided by a victim support worker.

You will have the right to opt out of the conciliation procedure at any point.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

Link opens in new windowCode of Criminal Procedure

Link opens in new windowVictim Support Act

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Estonian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

You can report a crime by calling the police emergency number 112 (if you also urgently need police assistance), submitting a written report at the nearest police station or emailing a report to the appropriate police prefecture. More information on how to report a crime is available Link opens in new windowhere.

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

After you have reported a crime, you will be contacted and informed about any further procedures (e.g. you will be asked to give testimony, provide information on possible witnesses, help with collecting evidence, etc.). If necessary, you will also receive information on possible victim support and other protection measures.

After your questioning, write down the number of the criminal matter and the investigator responsible for the case. This will make it easier for you to request information from the police at a later date.

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

You have the right to have an advocate present during the proceedings. If you do not have the means to hire one, you may make a request to the court for state legal aid.

All victims who are minors whose interests are in conflict with those of their legal representatives are entitled to state legal aid free of charge.

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

Victims and witnesses are entitled to compensation for expenses incurred or income not received because of the criminal proceedings. For example, you can claim for travelling expenses or loss of earnings incurred from going to give evidence. To claim expenses, notify the authority that summoned you and you will receive instructions on how to submit your claim.

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

When criminal proceedings are terminated, a copy of the relevant ruling will immediately be sent to you or your representative. As a victim you can request access to the criminal file within 10 days from receiving the ruling terminating the criminal proceedings. Within those 10 days, you are also entitled to request that the prosecutor’s office review the ruling.

Can I be involved in the trial?

As a victim, you are a party to the trial on equal terms with the other parties and are entitled to be involved in the trial.

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

If a crime has been committed against you, then you are a victim in the criminal proceedings. However, you are also entitled to file a civil action as part of the same proceedings.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a victim is entitled to:

  1. contest a refusal to commence or a termination of criminal proceedings;
  2. file a civil action through an investigative body or the prosecutor’s office;
  3. give or refuse to give testimony against persons close to him or her;
  4. give evidence;
  5. submit requests and complaints;
  6. examine the minutes of the proceedings and make statements on the conditions, course, results and minutes of the proceedings (your statements will be taken down in writing);
  7. examine the contents of the criminal file after the preliminary investigation of the case is completed;
  8. participate in the court hearing;
  9. give consent or refuse to consent to the application of a settlement procedure and give an opinion concerning the charges and punishment, the amount of the damages specified in the charges and the civil action;
  10. give consent to the application of a temporary restraining order and request the application of a restraining order;
  11. request to be questioned by a person of the same sex in the case of sexual violence, gender violence or a criminal offence committed in a close relationship, except where the questioning is conducted by a prosecutor or judge or if it would hinder the course of the proceedings.

A victim is required to:

  1. appear when summoned by an investigative body, prosecutor’s office or court;
  2. participate in the proceedings and follow the orders of the investigative body, prosecutor’s office and court.

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

You are entitled to make statements and express your opinion during the trial. You have the right to give testimony in court if the prosecution requests that you be questioned.

What information will I receive during the trial?

The court will inform you about the time and place of the court sessions and you will also be informed about the court ruling, which will be sent to you by post unless you are personally present in court when the ruling is pronounced.

Will I be able to access court files?

You are entitled to examine the court files in the prosecutor’s office after the preliminary investigation is completed or when the criminal proceedings are terminated. The prosecutor’s office will inform you about this right and provide instructions on how you can examine the files.

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

As a party to the trial, you have the right to file an appeal against the ruling with a district court within 30 days after the ruling is made.

What are my rights after sentencing?

You have the right to be notified in the event of the early release of the convicted offender from prison if you request this during the proceedings.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

The course of the criminal proceedings does not affect how long you can receive victim support services. You can continue to receive victim support services after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings without any specific time limit.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

You will be informed about the court ruling, which states the length of the sentence given to the suspect. You will also be notified in the event of the early release of the convicted offender from prison if you so request.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

If you requested this during your questioning, you will be notified if the convicted offender is released or escapes from prison.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

You may be asked to give an opinion during early-release proceedings, but you cannot appeal against such decisions.

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

You are entitled to file a civil action against the accused to claim damages as part of the criminal proceedings. You can file a civil action within 10 days after you examine the criminal file. You can also request that the prosecutor’s office extend this deadline.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

If the convicted offender does not pay the amount imposed on him or her by the court ruling, you are entitled to contact a bailiff, who will organise enforcement proceedings.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

No, the state does not pay damages owed by a convicted offender.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

You may apply for compensation from the state for the following types of damage if you are a person close to the person who died because of a crime, or if you are a victim of a crime of violence, and have sustained a health disorder lasting for at least four months because of the crime:

  1. damage arising from incapacity for work or reduced working capacity;
  2. expenses incurred due to damage caused to the victim’s health;
  3. damage arising from the death of the victim;
  4. damage caused to spectacles, dentures, contact lenses or other appliances substituting for bodily functions or to clothes;
  5. the victim’s funeral expenses.

To be eligible for compensation, you must report the crime to the police within 15 days after it takes place or after you have the opportunity to report it.

The application for compensation must be submitted to the Estonian National Social Insurance Board within three years of the crime being committed or the date of the victim’s death, unless:

  1. the dependant became aware of the death of the victim more than one year after the date of death and the application is submitted within three years of the date of becoming aware of the death of the victim;
  2. the applicant for compensation sustained a health disorder that lasted longer than one year and the timely submission of the application was impossible due to his or her state of health, and the application is submitted within three years of his or her state of health improving;
  3. the basis for applying for compensation is a sexual offence against a minor and the application is submitted within three years after the victim became an adult unless the reason for the criminal proceedings became evident before he or she became an adult.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

You can apply for state compensation to victims of crime if the criminal proceedings fail to identify the person who committed the crime against you.

If the person accused of the crime is acquitted in court but you still believe that the person has caused you damage, then you can file a civil action.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

The decision on the award of compensation to a victim of violence may be postponed until a county court ruling if:

  1. the applicant’s right to receive compensation from the person liable for the damage caused by the criminal offence is uncertain, or
  2. it is obvious that the person liable for the damage caused by the criminal offence agrees and is able to compensate for the damage.

If the award of compensation is postponed, the Estonian National Social Insurance Board may make an advance payment on the basis of a request from the applicant for compensation if the applicant is clearly eligible for compensation and he or she is in a difficult economic situation.

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime – who do I contact for support and assistance?

  1. Link opens in new windowEstonian National Social Insurance Board’s Victim Support Department
  2. Link opens in new windowWomen’s support centres
  3. Link opens in new windowPolice and Border Guard Board

Victim support hotline

  1. Victim support hotline: 6121360 or 16106 (calls are taken Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00).
  2. Children’s support hotline: 16111 (for reporting children who need help; calls are taken 24 h, every day).

Is victim support free?

Yes, the victim support services are free.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

The state victim support services cover the following:

  1. counselling victims;
  2. assisting victims in communicating with state and local government authorities and legal persons;
  3. ensuring safe accommodation;
  4. ensuring catering;
  5. ensuring access to necessary health services;
  6. providing necessary material assistance;
  7. providing necessary psychological assistance;
  8. arranging translation and interpretation services necessary for receiving victim support services;
  9. providing other services necessary for the physical and psycho-social rehabilitation of victims.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

State victim support service providers can direct you to suitable non-governmental organisations.

Link opens in new windowWomen’s refuges

Last update: 23/05/2019

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Ireland

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, e.g. you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, etc., as a result of an incident that constitutes a crime according to national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Criminal proceedings in Ireland consist of an investigation and trial. The police authorities in Ireland are known as ‘An Garda Síochána’ or ‘Gardaí’ for short. An Garda Síochána investigates the case. After the investigation, a decision whether or not to prosecute is made. For serious crimes, An Garda Síochána sends the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the DPP makes the decision to proceed. For less serious crimes, An Garda Síochána may make the decision to proceed. The decision to prosecute is based on public interest – whether the evidence gathered in the case would be likely to secure a conviction in the circumstances. If there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a conviction is likely, the offender will then be prosecuted.

The following factsheets will take you through the different steps of the procedure, describing your rights Link opens in new windowduring the investigation of the crimeLink opens in new windowduring the trial or Link opens in new windowafter the first trial. Also, read more about the Link opens in new windowhelp and support you can get.

Last update: 09/06/2015

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.

1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

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

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

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

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

You can report a crime by calling into, writing to or phoning the local Garda Station. You can also approach a member of An Garda Síochána who is on duty (on the street, in a police station, etc.). Contact details for your local Garda station can be found in the telephone book or on the online Link opens in new windowGarda Síochána Station Directory. You can dial 999 or 112 from anywhere in the country in the case of an emergency.

You should report the crime yourself as outlined above. However, if you have been incapacitated, someone else can report the crime on your behalf. If you would prefer to report the crime anonymously, you can phone An Garda Síochána’s confidential line on 1800 666 111. However, depending on the nature of the crime this may not be suitable in the circumstances.

In general there are no time limits for reporting a crime. For less serious offences (i.e. cases heard by the District Court with no jury and carrying a maximum prison sentence of 12 months for one offence) you have to make the report within six months from the date of offence to the instigation of criminal proceedings.

There is no special form required by authorities for the report. You can make your report through English. If you are not fluent in English, you can request an interpreter, which An Garda Síochána will provide free of charge.

When you report a crime, An Garda Síochána will take a written statement from you. You will be asked to supply:

  • your name, address and contact details;
  • a description of the incident (including location, date, time and a short narrative description of the crime) and
  • details of property missing or damaged, if applicable.
  • details of any physical injury.

An Garda Síochána will gather the evidence and investigate your report.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

When you report a crime, An Garda Síochána will provide you with details of the name, rank, phone number and station of the investigating Garda. You will also be given an incident reference number. You can use the reference number to follow up on your complaint. If you are the family of a victim of murder or unlawful killing, you will be assigned a Garda Liaison Officer, who will liaise with you throughout the case.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

In general, your only involvement will be to make a statement detailing everything you know about the crime. It is the responsibility of An Garda Síochána to gather the evidence and investigate the crime and keep you informed of any developments. Depending on the nature of your case, An Garda Síochána may ask you to participate in other aspects of the investigation (for example, to undergo a medical examination to gather evidence of physical injury or collect forensic evidence) if this could help your case. You may also be asked to identify the suspect in a line up. You can add to your statement to An Garda Síochána throughout the investigation process, if, for example, you think of something which you had forgotten in your previous statement.

It is important to remember that your role as a victim in Irish criminal proceedings is very limited. You do not have a special legal status as complainant in criminal proceedings. You may be called as a witness in proceedings. This means that, during the investigation stage and trial stage, your involvement in proceedings is fairly limited. If you are called as a witness, you need to appear at the trial.

If you do not speak fluent English, An Garda Síochána will provide you with an interpreter free of charge. You are not entitled to written translation of case documentation (no case documentation, apart from your statement, will be released to you).

If you are unhappy with the treatment you receive you can make a complaint about the conduct of An Garda Síochána at your local Garda station or by contacting the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission or Garda Ombudsman, for short. See Link opens in new windowGarda Ombudsman.

If you are a witness for the prosecution in a criminal trial, you should tell the investigating Garda dealing with the case what your expenses are and provide receipts where possible. For example, you may miss out on wages for the days that you are in court and you may incur travel and subsistence expenses to get to court. The Garda will then ensure that an application is made to the judge to have witness expenses paid. It is a matter for the judge to decide whether or not to make an order to reimburse witness expenses.

What are my rights as a witness?

An Garda Síochána may call you for an interview as a witness. In this case you may have to go to a Garda Station and make a statement outlining everything you know about the case.

In limited cases involving intimidation of a witness, the court may allow a witness to give evidence by way of sworn deposition or video evidence if the witness cannot attend court through fear of intimidation. An adult (age 18 and over) can only give evidence by video-link if the court allows you to.

The Witness Protection Programme is also available to you in circumstances where there is a serious threat to your safety. Under this programme, you as a witness and your family are provided with new identities, immunity from prosecution and the means to establish a new life in another jurisdiction. It is an offence to attempt to discover or reveal the identity of a relocated witness.

You can find more information in the booklet Link opens in new windowGoing to Court as a Witness which is available in English, Irish and other languages.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a minor, you will be interviewed by a specially trained member of An Garda Síochána in a special interview suite.

If you are a witness under the age of 18 you may be able to give evidence via video-link or you may be questioned through an intermediary.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

When you report a crime, An Garda Síochána will provide you with details of the name, rank, telephone number and station of the investigating police officer. Following your report, An Garda Síochána issues a letter to you, which contains the number of the Link opens in new windowCrime Victims Helpline and a list of victim support agencies which can provide you with counselling, support and information. Most of these agencies offer their services free of charge.

An Garda Síochána will explain the investigation process to you and will endeavour to keep you up-to-date with any progress in your case, including whether an offender is charged or cautioned and tell you whether the offender is in custody or on bail and the conditions attached to it. Official communications are usually made by letter. You can request access to your own statement but no other documents will be released to you.

Can I receive legal aid?

An Garda Síochána will work with statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure that you and your family receive appropriate physical, psychological and emotional support and advice. Generally speaking, you are not entitled to any medical, legal or psychological assistance free of charge. However, you may be entitled to State funded civil legal aid in certain circumstances and you should contact the Link opens in new window Legal Aid Board for a list of local law centres. The Legal Aid Board provides legal advice and representation to persons primarily in civil matters, including to persons who are victims of domestic violence. If, however, in a criminal matter, the defence seeks to introduce the prior sexual history of the victim in the course of a criminal trial the Legal Aid Board will provide legal representation free of charge to victims of rape. The Legal Aid Board also provides legal advice free of charge to complainants in respect of rape and other forms of sexual assault.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

If you are concerned about your safety and welfare at home, you can apply to the District Court for the issue of one of a number of orders to protect you. For example, a barring order can be issued to protect you in your own home. You can attend at the local District Court to apply for such an order or speak to a member of An Garda Síochána in such circumstances. You can also obtain advice from the Link opens in new windowLegal Aid Board.

Also, the Witness Protection Programme as detailed above under “your rights as a witness” protects witnesses who may be in danger.

It is open to the court to direct that the accused stay away from the victim or stay away from a certain place. Again, a member of An Garda Síochána can assist you in this regard.

In situations of domestic violence, refuge may be available from certain voluntary organisation (see Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cosc.ie/)

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

You can access victim support. When you report a crime, An Garda Síochána will provide you with information about victim support services. Victim support agencies offer counselling, support and information, often free of charge, to victims of crime. You can also phone the confidential Crime Victims Helpline for information and support on Freephone 116006 or call-save 1850 211 407 (office hours are Monday 10.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., Tuesday to Friday 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and Saturday 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.).

You can access victim support services, which are provided by voluntary agencies, usually free of charge. These agencies provide information, support and counselling. The Irish Tourist Assistance Service provides free assistance to tourists who have become victims of crime. They provide emotional support, translation services, embassy details and can arrange accommodation/ transport and address medical needs. They do not provide financial assistance or insurance/ legal advice.

If applicable to you, the following may also assist you:

  • If you have an intellectual disability, you will be interviewed by a specially trained police officer in a special interview suite. If you have a physical or mental disability An Garda Síochána will endeavour to provide for any of your special needs or requirements;
  • If you are a member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender Community and are the victim of a homophobic attack, An Garda Síochána can refer to you a specially trained member of An Garda Síochána who can deal with your report;
  • If you are a victim of a racist incident, An Garda Síochána will inform you of the designated Ethnic Liaison Officer in your area. You will be interviewed by a specially trained member of An Garda Síochána, who can deal with your report.
  • If you have been the victim of a sexual offence, you will be interviewed by a specially trained police officer. Where possible, the services of a police officer and doctor of the same gender as you will be made available to you. An Garda Síochána have a specialist investigation unit in Dublin (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit) and a special, fully equipped interview suite in Link opens in new windowSLink opens in new windowtore Street Garda Station, Dublin;
  • If you are elderly, An Garda Síochána will take all possible steps to protect you and will advise you about home security and staying safe.
  • If you are a family member of a victim of murder or an unlawful killing, a specially trained Garda Liaison Officer will be assigned to you throughout the case.

You can receive medical or psychological assistance but you may be asked to pay for it unless you have valid health insurance. However, citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card. You can call the emergency units of hospitals at the European emergency number 112.

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

Generally, there is no such provision in Irish law. However, if the crime you are a victim of is committed by a first-time offender who is under the age of 18 and the offender accepts responsibility for the offence, there are two alternative processes to the criminal justice system in which you can take part and are given an active role in a dispute:

  • An Garda Síochána can administer a process to caution the child rather than take him or her to court. The child may be placed under the supervision of a Juvenile Liaison Officer for a period of time. You may be invited to be present during a formal caution and your views will be taken into account.
  • Another process known as the Family Mediation Conference brings you and the young person together in a safe environment via a trained facilitator. Its purpose is to enable the young person to repair the harm caused by their offence. The procedure can be attended by you, the young person, your and his/her supporters (community representatives, family members, friends or relatives nominated by you or young person, and members of the community). If you would prefer not to attend, the facilitator can represent your views during the conference. During this process, an action plan for reparation will be agreed which may include an apology to you, financial or other reparation to you, or initiatives within the child’s family and community that might help to prevent re-offending. The court directs that this take place, often on the recommendation of the Probation Services. If the offender fulfils the conditions of the programme, the case may be closed.

For adult offenders who have accepted responsibility for the offence, the Probation Service may organise a meeting whose purpose is to enable the offender to repair the harm caused by their offence, but only in appropriate cases. There are at present two pilot mediation services in Nenagh, County Tipperary and Tallaght, County Dublin. It is envisaged that these will be extended to other areas in due course. You can attend with your supporter, the offender and his/her supporter, and members of the community. During the proceedings, an action plan for reparation will be agreed. The action plan may include an apology to you, financial or other reparation to you, or initiatives within the community that might help to prevent re-offending. The court directs that this take place, often on the recommendation of the Probation Services. If the judge is satisfied that the offender has fulfilled the conditions of the programme, the case may be closed.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

After the investigation a decision whether or not to prosecute is made. In less serious crimes, An Garda Síochána may make the decision in the name of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In serious crimes An Garda Síochána will send the case file to the Office of the DPP, who will consider the evidence and decide whether or not to prosecute the case. The DPP will take your views into account when making a decision whether to prosecute but will place the ‘public interest’ above your interests. You will have little or no contact with the prosecution team during this stage of proceedings and cannot discuss the case with them. It is always open to a victim however to correspond with the DPP. Link opens in new windowSee Guide for Victims and Witnesses

An Garda Síochána will keep you informed, usually in writing, about any developments in the case, including about the outcome of proceedings.

When the DPP makes a decision not to prosecute, the reason is communicated only for the following offences: murder, manslaughter, infanticide, workplace fatalities, and fatal road traffic accidents occurring after 22 October, 2008. For more information you can read the booklet Link opens in new windowThe Role of the DPP, available in English, Irish and other languages.

If you withdraw your report the DPP may either close the case or pursue it without your co-operation.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

Generally, the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions is final. However, if it is decided that the case should be closed, you can submit a written request to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a review of the decision. A member of your family can also request a review. See booklet the Link opens in new windowRole of the DPP. If there is evidence to suggest that the decision was capricious, the decision can be reviewed by the courts. Alternatively, you may be able to initiate a private prosecution but only in very limited circumstances.

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

If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Ireland you have all the rights described above.

An Garda Síochána will provide you with an interpreter free of charge throughout the proceedings.

If you are a tourist in Ireland, you can get free assistance provided by the (non-statutory) Irish Tourist Assistance Service to tourists who have become victims of crime. They will provide you with emotional support, translation services, and embassy details and can arrange accommodation/ transport and address medical needs. They, however, do not provide financial assistance or insurance/ legal advice.

If you are a victim of a racist incident, An Garda Síochána will inform you of the designated Garda Ethnic Liaison Officer in your area. You will be interviewed by a specially trained member of An Garda Síochána, who will deal with your report.

More information

  • Victims Charter 2010 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish , Irish and six other languages.
  • The Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act 1851 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice Act 1951 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 2000 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • An Garda Síochána Act, 2005 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice (Administration) Act 1924 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) – in English
  • Prosecution of Offences Act, 1974 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice Act, 1999 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Domestic Violence Act, 1996 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice Act, 1999 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Children Act, 2001 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Evidence Act, 1992 - in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008- in Link opens in new windowEnglish
Last update: 09/06/2015

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.

2 - My rights during the trial

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 offender or receive compensation from the state?

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

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

More information

How can I be involved in the trial?

The prosecution lawyer will answer your questions about the trial process but will not discuss the case or your evidence with you. If you would like to familiarise yourself with the court in advance of your appearance, you can ask the Court Service to arrange a visit for you. The Link opens in new windowOffice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has produced an information booklet Link opens in new windowAttending Court as a Witness. Link opens in new windowThe Court Service of Ireland has produced a guide for young witnesses Going to court available as a booklet and DVD.

You may be called as a witness to give evidence in court. In this case, you will receive a witness summons from An Garda Síochána, which will tell you the time, date and place of the court hearing. If called as a witness, you need to attend.

Generally, you can be present at the trial proceedings. Sometimes, particularly in cases involving serious offences, if you are a witness you may be precluded from attending the court hearing until called to give evidence. If you are not appearing as a witness, you may still be able to attend the court hearing unless it is held in private for a particular reason. In general, justice in Ireland is administered in public but there are some exceptions. For example, all family law matters are held in private. If you are the victim of rape, you have the right to be accompanied to court by a supporter.

When sentencing the offender, the court may take into account the impact of the crime on you. The judge may ask for a victim impact report to be prepared. This is a statement outlining the affect that the crime has had on your life. If you have been a victim of a violent or sexual offence or any offence under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, the court must take into account the impact of the crime on you. In addition in such cases, you have the right, upon application, to present a victim impact statement to the court on the impact of the crime. This takes places after the offender has been found guilty.

The judge may ask the Link opens in new windowProbation Service to prepare a victim impact report to assist with determining the most appropriate sentence for the offender. The Probation Service will also take your needs into account when preparing a pre-sentence report on the offender and in making recommendations for sentencing options.

An Garda Síochána will inform you about your entitlement to court expenses and will keep you informed of the final outcome of the trial.

What are my rights as a witness?

If you have been called as a witness you have to give testimony at trial. In Link opens in new windowlimited circumstances, it is possible to refuse to testify:

  • If you are the spouse of the offender, you cannot be compelled to give evidence for the prosecution except in the following cases:
    • The offence in question is of violence or the threat of violence to you, your child or the accused’s child, or a person under 17 (includes an adopted child)
    • The offence is a sexual offence in relation to your child, the accused’s child or a person under 17 (includes an adopted child)
    • The offence consists of attempting or conspiring to commit or of aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or inciting commission of either of the above two offences
    • If you are co-offender of the crime
    • The above exemptions also apply to former spouses in respect of offences that occurred during the marriage.
    • If you are a member of diplomatic staff.

As a witness, you may also be cross-examined (cross-examination means when the defence can ask you questions about your statement and evidence) by the defence. The representative of the prosecution (or a senior police officer in less serious cases) will present the evidence and examine you, while the defence may cross-examine you. A statement, under oath in court, is usually known as “sworn evidence”. It is not read back to a witness, but examination or cross-examination may ensue from that sworn evidence.

All trials must take place in public (except in certain circumstances such as family law matters) and you as a witness will give evidence in open court and cannot remain anonymous. If you are the victim of rape or certain sexual offences however, the public will be excluded from your court hearing and your anonymity will be protected. The public is excluded from incest hearings and your anonymity will be protected.

If you are called to give evidence at the trial the Link opens in new windowCourts Service of Ireland can provide support and information (but not legal advice) to you

If you are a young witness, you can also consult the guide for young witnesses “Going to Court” which is available as a booklet and DVD, from the Link opens in new windowCourts Service of Ireland.

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are under 14 years old or you have an intellectual disability, you will not be required to swear an oath before giving your evidence at trial.

If you are under 18, you may be permitted to give evidence via video link or you may also be allowed to give evidence through an intermediary.

If you are a young witness, you can also consult the guide for young witnesses “Going to Court” which is available as a booklet and DVD, from the Link opens in new windowCourts Service of Ireland.

Can I receive legal aid?

Victims are not usually permitted separate legal representation with one exception outlined in the next paragraph.

Separate legal representation is available to you if you are a complainant in the prosecution of a person for rape and the defence wants to introduce evidence relating to your prior sexual history. Under this provision, you will not have to make a financial contribution to the cost. In this case the Link opens in new windowLegal Aid Board will provide a lawyer to represent you free of charge. You may at any stage consult your own lawyer, known as a solicitor, at your own expense. Contact details for solicitors may be obtained from the Law Society.

There are a number of voluntary agencies, which provide court accompaniment and other victim support services, usually free of charge.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

It is open to the court to direct that the accused stay away from the victim or stay away from a certain place. A member of An Garda Síochána can assist you in this regard.

Also, the Witness Protection Programme protects witnesses who may be in danger.

In situations of domestic violence, refuge may be available from certain voluntary organisation (see Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cosc.ie/)

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

You can claim damages from the offender if you are a victim of crime or a dependant of a victim of crime who has died as a result of the crime.

The court can order the offender to pay compensation in respect of any personal injury or loss resulting from the offence (or any other offence that is taken into consideration by the court in determining sentence) to you if you have suffered such injury or loss. For example, this is quite common with regard to property damage. A compensation order is made only after the offender is convicted and it is treated as a sentence or a condition of a sentence.

The judge decides whether a compensation order will be made and for how much. You will not be consulted regarding the amount. The offender’s means are taken into account when determining the amount. There is no upper ceiling set on the amount that can be awarded under a compensation order in the High Court. However, the maximum amount that can be awarded is €6,348.69 in the District Court and €38,092.14 in the Circuit Court.. The amount cannot exceed what you would receive in a civil action. The Link opens in new windowProbation Service may be asked to oversee payment.

If you are a victim of a violent crime (or a dependant of a victim), if you were injured as a result of trying to prevent the commission of a crime, prevent the escape of someone in custody, save a life, or assist a police officer, you might be also entitled to compensation from the State and may apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administrating the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Ireland (available in Link opens in new windowEnglish and other languages) on the European Judicial Network website.

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

Generally, there is no such provision in Irish law. However, if the crime you are a victim of is committed by a first-time offender who is under the age of 18 and the offender accepts responsibility for the offence, there are two alternative processes to the criminal justice system in which you can take part and are given an active role in a dispute:

  • An Garda Síochána can administer a process to caution the child rather than take him or her to court. The child may be placed under the supervision of a Juvenile Liaison Officer for a period of time. You may be invited to be present during a formal caution and your views will be taken into account.
  • Another process known as the Family Mediation Conference brings you and the young person together in a safe environment via a trained facilitator. Its purpose is to enable the young person to repair the harm caused by their offence. The procedure can be attended by you, the young person, your and his/her supporters (community representatives, family members, friends or relatives nominated by you or young person, and members of the community). If you would prefer not to attend, the facilitator can represent your views during the conference. During this process, an action plan for reparation will be agreed which may include an apology to you, financial or other reparation to you, or initiatives within the child’s family and community that might help to prevent re-offending. The court directs that this take place, often on the recommendation of the Probation Service. If the offender fulfils the conditions of the programme, the case may be closed.

For adult offenders who have accepted responsibility for the offence, the Probation Service may organise a meeting whose purpose is to enable the offender to repair the harm caused by their offence, but only in appropriate cases. There are at present two pilot mediation services in Nenagh, County Tipperary and Tallaght, County Dublin. It is envisaged that these will be extended to other areas in due course. You can attend with your supporter, the offender and his/her supporter, and members of the community. During the proceedings, an action plan for reparation will be agreed. The action plan may include an apology to you, financial or other reparation to you, or initiatives within the community that might help to prevent re-offending. The court directs that this take place, often on the recommendation of the Probation Services. If the judge is satisfied that the offender has fulfilled the conditions of the programme, the case may be closed.

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

If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Ireland you have all the rights described above.

If you are a witness who is living abroad you may have the right to give evidence via video link or telephone link.

More information

  • Criminal Justice Act 1993 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) – in English
  • Criminal Law (Rape) Act, 1981 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • The Criminal Law (Incest Proceedings) Act, 1995 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Children Act, 1997 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Evidence Act, 1992 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Justice Act, 1999 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Sex Offenders Act, 2001 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Probation of Offenders Act, 1907 – in English
  • Criminal Damage Act, 1991 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008- in Link opens in new windowEnglish
Last update: 09/06/2015

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.

3 - My rights after the (first) trial

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?

A victim of crime cannot appeal the sentence, however, in the case of trials of serious crimes heard in the circuit, central criminal or special criminal courts, a victim of crime or a family member of a victim of crime who is unhappy with the sentence may make a written request to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to appeal the sentence. However, the decision to appeal the sentence is for the DPP to make. The DPP has the right to appeal where she/he considers the sentence to be excessively lenient. These provisions only apply to trials of serious crimes. The DPP must request a review within 28 days of the sentence being handed down but can apply for an extension of up to 56 days in certain circumstances.

Is further appeal possible?

Normally only one appeal is allowed. However, a further appeal may occur on a point of law. Again the decision is made by the DPP.

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

If you are the victim of a serious sexual or violent offence, you can ask the Irish Prison Service to notify you prior to the release of the offender. Sex offenders released from prison after September 2001 must also notify An Garda Síochána of their home address and any subsequent changes of address.

You can also contact the Prison Service’s Victim Liaison Officer (see Victim Liaison Service) to obtain information about the prison and parole system, make a complaint, or request notification about significant developments in the offender’s sentence management, such as release date.

The Link opens in new windowPrison Service will ensure that, if they are considering allowing the offender out on temporary release, any potential risk to you and the content of your victim impact statement (with your permission) will be taken fully into account.

The Parole Board of the Irish Prison Service advises the Minister for Justice and Law Reform in relation to the administration of long-term prison sentences. Prisoners who are serving determinate sentences of eight years or more but less than 14 years can have their cases reviewed by the Parole Board at the half of sentence stage and prisoners who are serving sentences of 14 years or more, including life sentences, will have their cases reviewed after seven years in custody. The Link opens in new windowParole Board will take into account information concerning you and your family when making a recommendation for release of the offender. You can submit a request to the Parole Board that your views be considered in relation to sentence management decisions (e.g. regarding temporary release and parole). If you would like to make a submission, you must inform the Prison Victim Liaison Officer.

You have no access to any data or documents at this stage but you will be informed of the outcome of the parole or temporary release hearing.

More information

  • Criminal Justice Act, 1993 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Victims Charter, 2010 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
  • Sex Offenders Act, 2001 – in Link opens in new windowEnglish
Last update: 09/06/2015

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.

4 - Help and support for victims of crime

The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime

An Garda Síochána

Irish Courts Service

Director of Public Prosecutions

The Probation Service

The Prison Service

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Citizens Information Board

Legal Aid Board

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Crime Victims Helpline

Rape Crisis Network Ireland

Support After Crime Services

Women’s Aid

Court Support Service

Advic

One in Four

Irish Tourist Assistance Service

CARI

AMEN

Federation for Victim Assistance

BlueBlindfold.gov.ie

Ruhama

The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime

The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime is an independent body which operates under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Law Reform. It provides funding for voluntary sector organisations supporting victims of crime.

The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime

  • assists in the development of strategies and policies to support victims of crime
  • provides financial assistance to voluntary bodies that support victims of crime
  • encourages the provision of services for victims of crime in all areas of the country
  • works in association with the Link opens in new windowVictims of Crime Office
  • promotes awareness of the services available to victims of crime
  • supports the Crime Victims Helpline

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.csvc.ie/

An Garda Síochána

An Garda Síochána is Ireland’s national police service.

An Garda Síochána

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • makes referrals to victim support agencies
  • provides information on cases and support to victims
  • promotes an inter-agency approach to problem solving and improving the overall quality of life
  • works to achieve prevention, reduction in crime and the fear of crime

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.garda.ie/

Irish Courts Service

The Courts Service is an independent statutory agency, established by the Courts Service Act 1998, which manages the courts, supports the judiciary and ensures a quality service to all users of the court.

The Courts Service

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • provides facilities for victims and their family in all new and refurbished court buildings
  • manages and maintains court buildings
  • works with victim support groups to provide a court accompaniment service

CONTACTS:

WebsiteLink opens in new windowhttp://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/Webpages/HomePage?OpenDocument

Director of Public Prosecutions

The Director of Public Prosecutions is the public prosecutor for the state and is an independent office established under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1974, where decisions are taken free from political or other undue influence.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions:

  • aims to operate to the highest professional standards and to treat all those with whom it has dealings fairly, equally and consistently, without any wrongful discrimination
  • has three divisions: Directing Division, Solicitors Division and Administration Division
  • considers victims’ views when making decisions
  • appeals a sentence to a higher court if considered unduly lenient
  • considers requests for reviews of the decision and in appropriate cases carries out an independent internal review
  • See booklets Going to Court as a Witness and The Role of the DPP available in nine languages.

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.dppireland.ie/

The Probation Service

The Probation Service is an agency of the Department of Justice and Law Reform. The role of the service is to act as lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in the community.

The Probation Service

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • provides probation supervision, community service, anti-offending behaviour programmes and specialist support services
  • provides services to both adult and young offenders, in the community and in custody and aims to stop them committing further offences
  • conducts family conferences and on the request of the court provides a Victim Impact Report
  • directs restitution by offenders in appropriate cases

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.probation.ie/

The Prison Service

The Prison Service is an independent body since 1996, which operates as an executive agency of the Department of Justice and Law Reform. The Irish Prison Service deals with male offenders who are 16 years of age or over and female offenders who are 17 years of age or over.

The Prison Service

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • ensures that no additional distress is caused to victims by any action of an offender while imprisoned
  • deals with male offenders who are 16 years of age or over and female offenders who are 17 years of age or over
  • has a mission to provide safe, secure and humane custody for people who are sent to prison
  • is committed to managing custodial sentences in a way which encourages and supports prisoners

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.irishprisons.ie/

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted under which victims of crime can apply for compensation.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

  • administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted
  • considers applications from people who suffer a personal injury or death as a result of a crime of violence
  • will look for a Garda report on the crime

The Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted

  • pays compensation for expenses and losses suffered as a direct result of a violent crime or while assisting or trying to assist in preventing a crime or saving a human life
  • may award compensation on the basis of any vouched out of pocket expenses, including loss of earnings, experienced by the victim or, if the victim has died as a result of the incident, by the dependants of the victim

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Criminal_Injuries_Compensation_Scheme

Citizens Information Board

The Citizens Information Board is the statutory body which supports the provision of information, advice and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services.

The Citizens Information Board

  • performs its functions on national and local level
  • provides the Citizens Information website, Link opens in new windowhttp://www.citizensinformation.ie/, and supports the voluntary network of Citizens Information Centres and the Citizens Information Phone Service 1890 777 121

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.citizensinformation.ie/

Legal Aid Board

The Legal Aid Board is an independent, publicly-funded organisation whose mission is "To provide a professional, efficient, cost-effective and accessible legal aid and advice service".

The Legal Aid Board

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • is responsible for the provision of civil legal aid and advice to persons of modest means, in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995
  • provides legal aid and advice primarily by solicitors employed by the Board in law centres
  • provides services on a nationwide basis through 33 full-time and 12 part-time law centres,
  • incorporating three full-time law centres comprising the Refugee Legal Service (RLS)

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.legalaidboard.ie/

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is responsible for receiving and dealing with all complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of An Garda Síochána.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

  • has the mission to provide the public with an independent and effective oversight of policing, and to deal with the public’s complaints concerning Gardaí fairly and efficiently
  • is also obliged to investigate any matter that appears to it to indicate that the conduct of a Garda may have resulted in death of, or serious harm to, a person

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.gardaombudsman.ie/

Crime Victims Helpline

The Crime Victims Helpline provides information, emotional support and referral to other services to victims of crime. Its phone number is Freephone 116006 or call-save 1850 211 407.

For more information, click here.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) acts as an umbrella organisation for rape crisis centres in Ireland to provide services such as counselling, advice, helpline, advocacy, SATU/medical forensic examination accompaniment and court accompaniment.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI)

  • performs its functions at national and local level
  • provides support and information to member Rape Crisis Centres
  • campaigns for funding and improvement of services
  • undertakes research and collects data relating to sexual violence
  • campaigns for the social and legislative changes
  • raises public awareness about sexual violence and the needs of survivors

CONTACTS:

Website: http://Link opens in new windowhttp://www.rcni.ie//

Support After Crime Services

The Support After Crime Services is a voluntary service founded in January 2006, which provides emotional and practical support to all persons affected by crime.

The Support After Crime Services

  • offer victims of crime practical and emotional support in a confidential manner operating under clear guidelines and policies
  • provide victims of crime with information on the criminal justice system
  • give practical assistance in completion of a victim impact statement
  • accompany victims/witnesses to court

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.supportaftercrimeservices.ie/

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid is a national voluntary organisation which provides support and information to women and their children who are being physically, emotionally, financially and sexually abused in their own homes.

Women's Aid

  • performs its functions on national and local level
  • is a feminist, political and campaigning organisation committed to the elimination of violence and abuse of women through effecting political, cultural and social change
  • provides direct support services to women experiencing male violence and abuse
  • works from the principles of empowerment, collective action, self-help and mutual aid, inclusion and equality
  • provides direct services to women experiencing domestic violence through National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 ( available from 10a.m. to 10p.m.) and court accompaniment service
  • has self-development programmes and provides one-to-one support visits, outreach services, referrals to other agencies and advocacy

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.womensaid.ie

Court Support Service

The Court Support Service is a voluntary organisation, funded by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime. Its volunteers are trained to support prosecution witnesses and their families who have been called to court to give evidence.

Court Support Services

  • is a voluntary organisation that provides support both before and during court proceedings in the Four Courts and at Tallaght District Court only.
  • its volunteers offer emotional support to the witnesses by accompanying them into court and remaining with them throughout the duration of the trial
  • its volunteers will arrange to meet the witnesses prior to the trial and take them on a ‘Pre-trial Visit

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.courtsupport.ie/

Advic

Advic is national, non-profit registered charity which campaigns for greater rights for victims of homicide, their families and friends.

Advic

  • brings together families bereaved by homicide including those affected by murder, manslaughter and fatal assault
  • provides assistance and information to families via phone and email regarding issues they are faced with after the homicide, including referral to pertinent agencies; helps families to deal with the practicalities arising after a homicide
  • advocates for changes in our criminal justice system
  • helps families to survive the trauma of homicide by running a subsidised professional counselling service for families and friends of homicide victims
  • helps families of homicide victims to access the voluntary assistance scheme run by the Bar Council

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.advic.ie/

One in Four

One in Four is a registered charity with offices in Dublin, Ireland, which offers support for women and men who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence and also to their family and friends.

One in Four

  • exists to give voice to the experience of people who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence
  • actively seeks and welcomes at all levels of the organisation's work the involvement of people who have experienced sexual violence
  • provides a unique service to individuals and families through Link opens in new windowindividual psychotherapy, Link opens in new windowgroup therapy, Link opens in new windowadvocacy/support, and 24-hour support on online message boards; through campaigning, policy making, in-house research, training and consultancy work with statutory and non statutory agencies

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.oneinfour.ie/

Irish Tourist Assistance Service

The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) is a free nationwide service offering support and assistance to tourists who become victims of crime while visiting Ireland.

The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS)

  • acts as a base where problems facing the tourist in the aftermath of a crime can be addressed promptly, with a view to getting holiday plans back on track
  • has trained staff and volunteers, who speak a variety of languages and provide assistance;
  • provides brochures in all tourist offices

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.itas.ie/

CARI

The CARI Foundation is a registered charity founded in 1989 which primary aim is to provide a professional, child-centred therapy and counselling service to children, families, and groups who have been affected by child sexual abuse.

CARI

  • aims to provide the most up to date education and information service for children, adults and professionals on the dynamics of child sexual abuse
  • aims to raise public and political awareness of these issues
  • aims to guarantee that they have in place sufficient resources nationwide to meet the demand that this increased awareness will promote provides Helpline where callers are able to explore concerns, feelings and fears regarding child sexual abuse in safety and anonymity
  • provides therapy for children and young people whose lives have been disrupted by experiences, exposure to, or allegations of sexual violence

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cari.ie/

AMEN

AMEN is a voluntary group, which provides a confidential helpline, a support service and information for male victims of domestic abuse.

AMEN

  • provides advice, support and legal information to male victims of domestic abuse and their children
  • has a Confidential Helpline
  • organises support group meetings whose purpose is to rebuild each member so that he can take up his place in life, strengthened and enriched by the experience
  • provides court accompaniment and counselling

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.amen.ie/

Federation for Victim Assistance

The Federation for Victim Assistance has as main objective to provide emotional and practical support to victims of crime.

The Federation for Victim Assistance

  • provides victim assistance at court and counselling
  • provides assistance for tourist victims of crime
  • helps with victim impact statements

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.victimassistanceireland.com/

Blue Blindfold.gov.ie

Ireland is a member of a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative designed to ensure that the EU becomes more hostile environment for criminals engaged in the trafficking of human beings. The other five countries involved in the initiative are the UK, Poland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The campaign is designed to encourage the public to share any suspicions

Ireland is a member of a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative designed to ensure that the EU becomes more hostile environment for criminals engaged in the trafficking of human beings. The other five countries involved in the initiative are the UK, Poland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The campaign is designed to encourage the public to share any suspicions or information on this crime with the Gardaí who will then investigate accordingly.

CONTACTS:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie/

Ruhama

Ruhama is a Dublin-based NGO which works on a national level with women affected by prostitution.

Ruhama is an NGO that works, on a national level, with women affected by prostitution including those who are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Ruhama provides a comprehensive range of services to women, tailoring interventions to individual needs. Ruhama provides a range of supports to allow women exit prostitution and reintegrate into mainstream society: including outreach, advocacy, counselling, safe accommodation, education (in-house and external), development/resettlement programmes, befriending, long-term support until woman becomes independent. Ruhama help women to access legal services, health care and housing. Victims of Trafficking have access to all services listed above.

CONTACTS:

Website: http://www.ruhama.ie/

Last update: 09/06/2015

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Greece

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, e.g. you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, as a result of an incident which constitutes an offence under Greek law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after the trial.

Criminal proceedings in Greece start with the investigation (dierévnisi) of the crime. Sometimes the investigation is divided into a preliminary investigation (prokatarktikí exétasi) and a judicial investigation (anákrisi). The aim of a preliminary investigation is to explore the circumstances of the case and establish whether criminal proceedings should be instituted or not.

The investigation is conducted by the police and by officers of the court — the public prosecutor (eisangeléas), the investigating judge (anakritís), or both. At the end of the investigation, the police officer in charge of the case forwards all the evidence collected to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then examines the work done so far and forwards the case to the court together with his or her recommendations for how the case should proceed further.

After reviewing the case file and the prosecutor’s recommendations, the court will either order a trial or close the case.

At the trial the court considers all the evidence collected and decides whether or not the defendant is guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she is convicted and sentenced. If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she is acquitted.

For further information, please refer to the following links:

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I be provided with by the authority (e.g. police, public prosecutor) after the crime occurred but before I even report the crime?

From your first contact with the police, or other competent authority, you will be given information, without undue delay and by any means available, on the terms and conditions of admissibility of a criminal complaint, and on the right to join the civil proceedings as a civil party seeking damages (politikós enágon); on how and under what conditions you can obtain legal assistance, lodge a claim for damages , or obtain translation and interpretation services; on the restorative justice available, and the authorities that can work towards restoring the damage by mediating between you and the offender; on how and under what conditions expenses incurred as a result of your participation in the criminal proceedings can be reimbursed; and how you can make a complaint against an authority if you feel your rights have not been respected.

In addition to your rights in the criminal proceedings, you will also be informed

about access to medical care, and any specialist support, including psychological assistance and alternative accommodation, and about how and under what conditions protective measures may be applied.

If you reside in another EU Member State, you will be given specific information on how and under what conditions you can exercise your rights.

The scope and content of the information given will vary depending on your particular requirements and personal situation and the type and nature of the offence. In the course of the proceedings additional and more thorough information will be supplied, at the competent authority’s discretion, depending on your needs (Article 57 of Law 4478/2017, on the right to receive information from the first contact with a competent authority (Article 4 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

If you reside in an EU Member State other than the state where the crime was committed, you will be called to make a statement immediately after you report the offence. This can be done in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Kódikas Poinikís Dikonomías — ‘KPD’) allowing for the use of communications technology, e.g. videoconferencing, telephone or Internet (Article 233(1) KPD).

If you reside in Greece and the offence was committed in another EU Member State, you may lodge a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor at the magistrates’ court (eisangeléas plimmeleiodikón) of your place of residence, who will forward your complaint to the competent law enforcement authority of the relevant Member State without undue delay, through the public prosecutor at the court of appeal (eisangeléas efetón), unless the Greek courts have jurisdiction in the matter. The prosecutor is under no obligation to forward your complaint to the Member State where the criminal offence was committed if Greek law is applicable and criminal proceedings are brought in Greece. In that case, in order to ensure that you receive adequate information and to promote mutual legal assistance, the prosecutor at the magistrates’ court that handles the case will so notify the competent law enforcement authority in the Member State where the criminal offence was committed, without undue delay, through the prosecutor at the court of appeal.

(Article 64 of Law 4478/2017, on the rights of victims resident in another Member State (Article 17 of Directive 2012/29/EU))

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

When you lodge a criminal complaint, the responsible officer must inform you that you can obtain a copy of your complaint.

(Article 58 of Law 4478/2017, on the right of victims when making a complaint (Article 5 of Directive 2012/29/EU))

When a criminal complaint is lodged it is given a unique complaint registration number (arithmós vivlíou mínysis). That number allows you to monitor the course of your case using the register kept at the prosecutor’s office or by contacting the complaints office responsible. You may also request and obtain a case progress certificate (pistopoiitikó poreías) indicating the current stage of the proceedings (e.g. an investigation is being carried out to establish the validity of the complaint, or a preliminary investigation is being conducted) and describing the outcome at each stage (e.g. the prosecutor has discontinued proceedings; criminal charges have been brought and the offender has been committed for trial, in which case you will be told the time and place of the trial and the nature of the charges brought; a pre‑trial judicial inquiry (kyría anákrisi) is in progress, or an order has been made dismissing the charges or terminating the prosecution; a court judgment has been given, if you have joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party seeking damages).

(Article 59 of Law 4478, on the right of victims to receive information about their case (Article 6 of Directive 2012/29/EU))

If your case falls under the jurisdiction of the Athens Court of First Instance (Protodikeío Athinón), when it reaches court your lawyer can monitor its progress on the website of the Athens Bar Association (Dikigorikós Sýllogos AthinónLink opens in new windowhttp://www.dsa.gr/). This option is not available to victims themselves, as the use of credentials is required.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during investigation and trial)?

If you do not understand or speak Greek, you can lodge a criminal complaint in a language you do understand, or be given the necessary linguistic assistance, always subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure or any specific criminal laws — you will be informed accordingly by the responsible officers. You may request a translation of your complaint free of charge.

(Article 58 of Law 4478, on the right of victims when making a complaint (Article 5 of Directive 2012/29/EU))

If you are to be examined as a witness at any stage of the proceedings and you are unable to speak or understand Greek sufficiently well, you will be given the services of an interpreter without delay. The right to interpreting services includes the provision of proper assistance to persons with hearing or speech impediments. Where appropriate, communication technology such as videoconferencing, telephone or the Internet may be used, unless the physical presence of the interpreter is considered imperative by the person examining you (Article 233(1) KPD).

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)

At their first contact with you, the police or other authorities will communicate with you in simple and accessible language, either orally or in writing, taking account of your personal characteristics, such as, primarily, your age, maturity level, intellectual and mental abilities, education, language skills, any hearing or speech impediments, or whether you are in severe emotional distress which affects your ability to understand or to be understood. A guide to your rights is available written in the most commonly spoken languages and in Braille (Article 56(2) of Law 4478/2017 (Article 3 of Directive 2012/29/EU)). Moreover, if you have a hearing or speech impediment, you will be provided with proper assistance by an interpreter (Article 233(1) KPD).

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

If you are a minor (under the age of 18), your legal representative (parent or guardian) can report the offence on your behalf. If you are over 12 years old, you can report the offence together with your legal representative (Article 118(2) of the Criminal Code (Poinikós Kódikas — ‘PK’)).

Whether you have special rights during the criminal proceedings depends on the nature of the offence. For instance, if you are a victim of an infringement of your personal or sexual freedom, human trafficking, sex tourism, abduction, kidnapping or a sex crime, you have a right to:

  • consult your case file, even if you have not joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party (Article 108A KPD);
  • have your interview recorded so that it can be used during the further criminal proceedings and you do not need to appear again before the prosecutor or the court (Article 226A KPD);
  • obtain the assistance of a psychologist or child psychiatrist when you are examined as a witness;
  • obtain information on whether the offender has been released (Article 108A KPD);
  • request a restraining order against the offender prohibiting him or her from contacting you or going near your home.
  • Moreover, you are in any case entitled to:
  • an individual assessment, in order to establish whether special protection measures should be applied where there is a risk of repeat victimisation (Article 68 of Law 4478/2017, on the individual assessment of victims to identify specific protection needs (Article 22 of Directive 2012/29/EU));
  • request the prosecution or judicial authorities to appoint a legal guardian for minors (epimelitís anilikón) to represent you at any stage of the criminal proceedings, if your parents are unable to represent your or if you are unaccompanied or separated from your family (Article 69(7) of Law 4478/2017, on the right to protection of victims with specific protection needs during criminal proceedings (Articles 23 and 24 of Directive 2012/29/EU);
  • ask to join the proceedings as a civil party seeking damages, assisted by your legal representative (Article 82(2) KPD).

What information can I obtain from the police or from victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

You can obtain information about the current stage of the proceedings from the public prosecutor, if the case file (dikografía)has been sent to the prosecutor.

If you have joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party, you may consult the contents of the case file and be given copies of the documents in it once the accused has been called to provide a defence statement (apología), or an arrest warrant (éntalma sýllipsis) or a warrant for forced appearance (éntalma viaías prosagogís) has been issued (Article 108 KPD), or a suspect has been summoned by the authorities to provide explanations. Until then, the proceedings are confidential.

Victim support and protection services can provide information, advice and support on how you can exercise your rights, including the right to claim compensation for the damage you have sustained as a result of the offence, and your role in the criminal proceedings as a civil party or as a witness (Article 62 of Law 4478/2017, on support from victim support services (Article 9 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

What are my rights as a witness?

If you are to be examined as a witness, you will be served a summons by the prosecutor or the police officer conducting preliminary inquiries, or by a district criminal court judge (ptaismatodíkis)or investigating judge (anakritís). You must appear and testify before them as soon as you receive the summons. You will be asked to describe what happened and, possibly, to answer some additional questions. If you are related to the suspect, you may refuse to testify (Article 222 KPD).

If you have a hearing or speech impediment, the examination may be conducted in writing. If you do not speak Greek, you have a right to the services of an interpreter free of charge.

If you are a victim of people trafficking you belong to a special group of witnesses: you will receive assistance beforehand from a psychologist or psychiatrist, acting in cooperation with the investigating police or judicial officers, who will use proper diagnostic methodologies to establish your intellectual capacity and psychological status. The psychologist or psychiatrist will be present during your examination. You may also be accompanied by your legal representative, unless the investigating judge makes an order preventing him or her from attending, giving reasons.

Your testimony will be written down and recorded audiovisually, where possible, so as to be submitted to the court electronically, in which case you need not be physically present at any subsequent stages of the proceedings.

If the case is one of domestic violence, and you are a member of the family, your testimony will not be taken on oath. If you are a minor, you will not be called to testify as a witness in court. Instead, you can provide a written statement which will be read in the courtroom, unless your physical presence is considered imperative.

Following your examination, you may seek reimbursement of any expenses you may have incurred (transport or accommodation expenses) from the authority that summoned you to testify (Article 288 KPD).

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

Different types of protection are available, depending on the nature of the offence and your role in the criminal proceedings.

If you are a victim of organised crime or terrorism and have been summoned to testify as a key witness as part of a pre‑trial judicial investigation into criminal activities, you may seek special protection against potential retaliation or intimidation. Depending on the case, the type of protection available may include police protection, protection of your anonymity (your name, place of birth, home and work address, occupation, age etc. will be eliminated from all written records), or even a change of identity and relocation to another country. You may ask to testify by means of audiovisual technology. If you work for a public agency, you may also request a provisional or permanent transfer to another post. Protection measures will be subject to your consent, and will limit your freedom only to the extent necessary for your own safety; they may be suspended if you so request in writing or if you fail to cooperate to ensure their success (Article 9 of Law 2928/2001, on witness protection).

If you are a victim of domestic violence, the police officers handling your case may under no circumstances disclose your identity, the offender’s identity, your home address or any information that might reveal your identity (Article 20 of Law 3500/2006).

As a victim, you may apply in writing for measures to prevent any contact between you or your family members and the offender at the places where the criminal proceedings are conducted. Your application will be heard by the three-member magistrates’ court (trimelés plimmeleiodikeío) of the place of the criminal proceedings, at any stage in the proceedings, in accordance with the expedited procedure for offences in flagrante delicto

(Article 65 of Law 4478/2017, on the right to avoid contact between victim and offender (Article 19 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

If you are a victim of crime, you can report the offence to the public prosecutor or to the police, by lodging a criminal complaint (énklisi or mínysi). (Strictly speaking, an énklisi is a criminal complaint made by the victim himself or herself. In certain situations criminal proceedings will be initiated only if there is such a complaint (e.g. in case of offences against a person’s honour and reputation). A mínysi is a criminal complaint or report made by a party other than the victim, in the case of an offence that the authorities can prosecute on their own initiative whether or not the victim complains. In practice, though, the term mínysi is used to refer to both types of complaint. Thus when a criminal complaint of whichever kind is lodged with the public prosecutor’s office, it is given a unique complaint register number known as an arithmós vivlíou minýseon — using the word minýsi).

You may also request another person to report the offence on your behalf. In this case, you must sign a written statement (dílosi or exousiodótisi), indicating the person that is to lodge the complaint for you. That statement does not come in a standardised form, but it must be signed before an officer of a central or local government authority or before a lawyer (including your own lawyer, if you already have one), who will authenticate your signature. The person reporting the offence on your behalf may be a lawyer or some other person you can trust. If the case is one where criminal proceedings require a criminal complaint by the victim, and the victim is dead, the right to lodge a complaint passes to his or her surviving spouse and children or to his or her parents (Article 118(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Kódikas Poinikís Dikonomías — ‘KPD’). If the victim has died as a result of the offence these persons may also join the criminal proceedings in their own right as civil parties seeking damages for the pain and suffering caused to them.

You can report an offence either orally or in writing. If you choose to report an offence orally, the officer receiving your complaint will draw up a report recording it.

You need to pay a fee to lodge your complaint; the amount of the fee is periodically adjusted by a joint decision of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Justice, Transparency and Human Rights. In exceptional situations, you will be allowed to pay the fee after you lodge the complaint, but in any event you must do so within three days. If you fail to pay the fee your complaint will be rejected as inadmissible. You are not required to pay the fee if you are entitled to legal aid. Nor are you required to pay the fee if you are a victim of an offence against sexual freedom or of financial exploitation of sexual life, domestic violence or racist discrimination (Articles 81A and 361B of the Criminal Code (Poinikós Kódikas — ‘PK’) or if there has been a breach of equal treatment (Article 46(2) KPD).

In the case of offences that can be prosecuted on the initiative of the authorities whether or not the victim has so requested, there are no time limits on reporting an offence, except that offences of intermediate gravity (plimmelímata) are time-barred after five years. In certain cases, however, the offence can be prosecuted only if you the victim, who have been harmed by it, ask for criminal proceedings to be brought. In these situations, you need to file a criminal complaint (énklisi) within three months of the date on which you became aware of the offence and the identity of the offender (if you know who the offender is).

There is no standard form you can use to lodge a complaint.

Your complaint must include the following information:

  • your full identification details;
  • the offender and his or her contact details, if you know them;
  • a thorough description of the facts;
  • any available documentary evidence substantiating your complaint;
  • any witnesses you suggest could be examined;
  • the details of your lawyer, if you have appointed one.

If you do not understand or speak Greek, you can lodge a criminal complaint in a language you do understand, or be given the necessary linguistic assistance, always subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other specific criminal laws. You may request a translation of the document free of charge (Article 58 of Law 4478/2017, on the rights of victims when making a complaint (Article 5 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

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

When a criminal complaint is lodged it is given a unique complaint registration number. That number allows you to monitor the progress of the case using the register kept at the prosecutor’s office or the responsible complaints office. You may also request and obtain a case progress certificate (pistopoiitikó poreías) indicating the current stage of the proceedings.

If your case falls under the jurisdiction of the Athens Court of First Instance (Protodikeío Athinón), when it reaches court your lawyer can monitor its progress on the website of the Athens Bar Association (Dikigorikós Sýllogos AthinónLink opens in new windowhttp://www.dsa.gr/). This option is not available to victims themselves, as the use of credentials is required.

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

During the trial you can have a lawyer, but you need to pay for his or her services.

If your annual family income is lower than two thirds of the annual minimum personal income defined in the National General Collective Labour Agreement, you will be provided with a lawyer free of charge, who will prepare and lodge a criminal complaint and represent you as a civil party at any stage of the proceedings, provided you are a victim of one of the following: torture or another offence against human dignity (Article 137(A) and (B) of the Criminal Code); discrimination or unequal treatment, an offence against life, personal freedom or sexual freedom; financial exploitation of sexual life; an offence against property or property rights; personal injury; or an offence related to marriage or the family. The offence must be a serious crime (kakoúrgima) or an intermediate offence (plimmélima) within the jurisdiction of the three-member magistrates’ court (trimeloús plimmeleiodikeío) that carries a minimum sentence of six months’ imprisonment (Law 3226/2004 (Government Gazette 24/Α/ 4/4.2.2004), as amended and supplemented by Law 4274/2014.) The person who assesses your request for legal aid in a criminal case is the presiding judge at the court where the case is pending or before which an appeal is to be brought.

The lawyer who acts for you will help you prepare and submit the documentation required to allow you to join the proceedings as a civil party and will assist you throughout the course of the proceedings.

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

If the prosecutor at the magistrates’ court (eisangeléas plimmeleiodikón) makes an order rejecting your complaint as without foundation in law, or obviously unfounded on the merits, or incapable of being assessed by a court, you may challenge the order before the responsible prosecutor at the court of appeal (eisangeléas efetón) (Articles 47 and 48 KPD) within three months of the date of the order — this time‑limit cannot be extended for any reason. To challenge the order you will have to pay a fee, which will be refunded if the prosecutor sustains it.

Can I be involved in the trial?

You can participate in the trial only if you are a civil party (politikó enágon) asking the court to award you damages for loss or for moral harm or pain and suffering. You can ask to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party by applying to the responsible public prosecutor, either in your criminal complaint or in a separate document, by the end of the pre-trial investigation (Article 308 KPD), either personally or through a lawyer holding general or specific authorisation to that effect. Your civil claim is recorded in a report with the lawyer’s authorisation attached (Article 83 KPD). If you have not asked to be treated as a civil party in your criminal complaint, you can still do so in the criminal court (Article 82 KPD) before the court starts to evaluate the evidence.

Your application to join the proceedings as a civil party will be rejected as inadmissible unless it includes a brief description of the case, the grounds of your claim and, if you are not a permanent resident within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, the appointment of an agent within that jurisdiction. The agent will be entitled to accept service of all documents or notices addressed to you as a civil party (Article 84 KPD). To be heard as a civil party in the criminal court you must appoint an authorised lawyer and pay a flat-rate fee in favour of the State, which covers the entire proceedings until there is a judgment that is no longer open to appeal. The amount of the fee is periodically adjusted by a joint decision of the Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance and the Minister for Justice.

As a civil party, you are a party to the proceedings, with a number of rights. You can attend all court hearings, including hearings in camera, and you have access to all the documents in the case. You are allowed to speak before the court to present your claims and you can also comment after a witness has been examined or make submissions or provide explanations on any testimony given or evidence presented (Article 358 KPD). You may put questions, through your lawyer, to the offender, the witnesses and the other participants (e.g. any technical experts appointed in the case). You will be asked to testify as a witness (though not on oath), and you can also propose witnesses, provided that the court is notified in good time. You are entitled to request an adjournment of the hearing or the replacement of a judge.

In any event , as a victim, you may be summoned by the court as a witness. In that case you are obliged to appear in court. When you are examined as a witness, you will have the opportunity to explain to the court the facts pertaining to the offence. The judge may also ask you some additional questions.

What is my official role in the justice system? For example, am I or can I choose to be a: victim, witness, civil party or private prosecutor?
What are my rights and obligations in this role?

You may choose whether to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party, which makes you a party to the entire proceedings, with substantial procedural rights, or simply to testify as a material witness, given that the criminal proceedings are taking place in particular as a result of the offence committed against you. The concept of a private prosecution does not exist in the Greek judicial system.

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

You can submit documents, which will be read in court (Article 364 KPD) and will be included in the case file, and you can also call witnesses and notify the court accordingly (Article 326(2-1) KPD).

What information will I receive during the trial?

You may attend public hearings throughout the proceedings, the taking of evidence, the defendant’s statement of defence, the pleadings of the lawyers and the court’s judgment.

Will I be able to access court files?

As a civil party you have access to the contents of the case file and can obtain copies of the court’s judgment.

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

At the end of the trial, the court will convict or acquit the defendant depending on the evidence presented. If the court finds the defendant not guilty, it clears him or her of the accusation, and if you have joined the proceedings as a civil party (politikós enágon) it will not rule on your claim for reparation or financial compensation for moral harm or pain and suffering. In such a case, the defendant is entitled to counterclaim against you seeking compensation and any expenses he or she has incurred in relation to the case (Article 71 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Kódikas Poinikís Dikonomías — ‘KPD’). If the court finds the defendant guilty, it will sentence him or her, and will rule on the amount of compensation you are to receive from the defendant on the basis of your civil claim.

If the court acquits the defendant, you can appeal against the judgment only if you have been ordered to pay the defendant compensation and expenses, and only in that respect, under Article 486(1)(b) KPD. In addition, if you are a civil party, you can appeal against a part of the judgment that dismissed your claim as unfounded in law or a part that awarded you financial satisfaction or compensation (Article 488 KPD).

Alternatively, you can ask the public prosecutor to appeal against the judgment.

What are my rights after sentencing?

Once the court sentence enters into force, your role in the criminal proceedings is generally over. Greek legislation does not give crime victims any further rights at the stage when the sentence is being enforced. There is only one exception: if you are a minor who is a victim of an offence against personal and sexual freedom, you have all the associated rights, even if you have not joined the proceedings as a civil party, including the right to be informed by the public prosecutor if the offender is released, provisionally or permanently, and any leave granted to him or her when in prison (Article 108A KPD).

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

As a victim, you are entitled to free and confidential general or specialist support and care services, depending on your needs, before, during and for a reasonable period of time after termination of the criminal proceedings. These rights may also extend to your family members, depending on their needs and on the severity of damage they have sustained as a result of the criminal offence that was committed against you. The police, or any other competent authority receiving your complaint, may provide you with information at your request, or refer you to: the social services of first- and second-level local government authorities; mental health facilities; Community Centres (Kéntra Koinótitas), the advice centres (symvoulevtiká kéntra) of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality; the support structures of the National Centre for Social Solidarity (Ethnikó Kéntro Koinonikís Allilengýis); the Independent Offices for the Protection of Underage Victims (Avtotelí Grafeía Prostasías Anílikon Thymáton) of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights; or private bodies and professional and volunteer associations. If you are a woman who is a victim of a crime against your personal or sexual freedom, or of financial exploitation of sexual life, domestic violence, human trafficking, procuring or racist crimes, your children are also entitled to receive support and care services (Article 61 of Law 4478/2017, on the right to access victim support and care services (Article 8 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

General support and care services can provide you, among other things, with information and advice regarding your rights as a victim and your entitlement to claim compensation for criminal injuries; information on how you can take part in the criminal proceedings either as a civil party or as a witness; information about or direct referral to any relevant specialist support services in place; emotional and psychological support; advice relating to financial and practical issues arising from the crime; or advice relating to the prevention of secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation.

Specialist support and care services will refer victims to shelters or provide other appropriate temporary accommodation for victims in need of a safe place owing to an imminent risk of secondary or repeat victimisation, intimidation or retaliation, and can provide integrated support, including trauma support and counselling, for victims with specific needs, such as victims of racist or sexual violence, victims of identity- or gender-based violence, and victims of violence in close relationships (Article 62 of Law 4478/2017, on support from victim support services (Article 9 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

As a victim, you will be briefed on the progress of the criminal proceedings and notified of the court ruling without undue delay, if you so request, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, provided that you have joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party. If you have joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party, you may be provided with information about the proceedings by email, in person or through your lawyer (Article 59 of Law 4478/2017, on the right of victims to receive information about their case (Article 6 of Directive 2012/29/EU))

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

You have a right to be informed if a temporary detention order is revoked or altered by the competent judicial body, or if the offender is permanently released, or has escaped from prison or been granted leave by the responsible officers of the detention facility, including information on any measures that may be taken to protect you in the event that the offender has been released or has escaped from prison. Such information must be given to you, subject to authorisation by the public prosecutor, if there is actual or potential danger to your safety, provided that no risk of harm to the offender arises as a result of the disclosure of such information (Article 59 of Law 4478/2017, on the right of victims to receive information about their case (Article 6 of Directive 2012/29/EU)).

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

No. However, the Court may require reparation of the damage sustained by the victim of the criminal act (Article 100(3a) of the Criminal Code (Poinikós Kódikas — ‘PK’) as an alternative to or a prerequisite for the suspension of the sentence, subject to probation or supervision by a social assistance officer (epimelitís koinonikís arogís)(Article 100 PK). The offender’s compliance with the Court’s requirements is monitored by the social assistance officer, and in the event of non-compliance, the competent prosecutor may ask the court that ordered the suspension to revoke the order.

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

4 - Compensation

You can claim damages from the offender by making a claim in civil law. You can submit your civil claim as part of the criminal proceedings, during the investigation or during the trial. By submitting your claim you join the criminal proceedings as a civil party (politikós enágon). You can claim financial compensation for damage to your property and/or for moral harm and pain and suffering. You can add to your claim all the expenses you have incurred in relation to the case (lawyers’ fees, bailiffs’ fees, travel expenses, etc.).

If the court finds the offender guilty, it will order him or her to pay you compensation. In practice, this compensation is most often symbolic, and less than the actual damage you have suffered. For the remainder you have to bring a separate action in a civil court.

Alternatively, you can bring your claim directly in the civil court. The civil court will order the offender to pay compensation that corresponds to the actual damage you have suffered.

If you have a claim pending before a civil court, you can re-submit it within the framework of criminal proceedings; the case before the civil court will then be closed.

If you are a victim of violent crime committed intentionally, you are entitled to compensation from the State.. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to crime victims in Greece (available in English, Greek and other languages) of the European Judicial Network (restorative justice).

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Greek has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

The General Secretariat for Gender Equality (Genikí Grammateía Isótitas ton Fýlon), which comes under the Ministry of the Interior, runs advice centres for women who are victims of violence.

It has established an integrated network of 62 structures to help such women.

The network comprises a 24/7 helpline (SOS 15900), 40 advice centres, and 21 hostels for women and their children.

The SOS15900 helpline can also be contacted at the email address Link opens in new windowsos15900@isotita.gr. It operates on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year, in both Greek and English. Call costs are subject to domestic call charges.

The advice centres offer psychosocial support and legal advice free of charge. The scope of services offered is now expanding to include female employment and women suffering multiple forms of discrimination (support to refugees, single parents, members of the Roma community etc.). Contact information about the advice centres is available on Link opens in new windowhttp://www.womensos.gr/ and on Facebook: WomenSOS.gr

CONTACT INFORMATION:

General Secretariat for Gender Equality website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.isotita.gr/

Research Centre for Gender Equality (Kéntro Erevnón gia Thémata Isótitas — ‘KEThI’)

The Research Centre for Gender Equality offers psychological support and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and operates a hostel for women who are victims of violence and their children.

The Research Centre for Gender Equality

  • is a body governed by private law which was set up in 1994 and is subject to supervision by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality
  • comprises regional and local services offering psychological support and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence
  • provides psychological support and legal assistance free of charge
  • provides information, advice and support to women facing employment and social exclusion issues
  • in cooperation with Athens Prefecture, has been operating a hostel for women who are victims of violence and their children since 1993.
  • CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://kethi.gr/

National Centre for Social Solidarity (Ethnikó Kéntro Koinonikís Allilengýis — ‘EKKA’)

The National Centre for Social Solidarity operates a network that offers social support services to individuals, families and social groups experiencing psychosocial difficulties or who are in need of immediate social support.

The National Centre for Social Solidarity

  • is a body governed by private law based in Athens and subject to supervision by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity
  • It comprises the following services:
  • The 197 direct social assistance line for all citizens operates on a 24/7 basis. Calls are free of charge.
  • The 1107 national child protection hotline, for questions concerning children, operates on a 24/7 basis.
  • Social support centres in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki
  • Hostels for citizens experiencing serious socio-financial problems in the region of Attica
  • Operates shelters for women at risk and their children in Attica and Thessaloniki
  • Scope of services offered:
  • advice and information on social welfare issues
  • social and psychological support to individuals and families, provision of shelter to women at risk and their children (mainly victims of domestic violence and human trafficking)
  • short-term accommodation for persons going through a crisis or social emergency
  • cooperation and mediation to facilitate access to social solidarity services offered by other organisations.
  • Lastly, the Centre deploys rapid intervention psychosocial support teams, consisting primarily of psychologists and social workers, in situations of natural disasters (earthquake, flood, fire), accidents, shipwrecks involving large numbers of victims, and any crisis involving large numbers of people where the presence of these teams is judged necessary.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.ekka.org.gr/

Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (Iatrikó Kéntro Apokatástasis Thymáton Vasanistiríon)

The Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims provides a rehabilitation centre for people who have been tortured and their families; it trains Greek and foreign health professionals in examining and treating torture victims, carries out scientific research, and offers incentives for research into torture and its consequences.

The Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims

  • provides a rehabilitation centre for people who have been tortured and their families
  • trains Greek and foreign health professionals in examining and treating torture victims
  • contributes to the broad dissemination of knowledge of the practice of torture and its different forms and the possibility of rehabilitation of torture victims
  • carries out scientific research and offers incentives for research into torture and its consequences
  • maintains and develops an information (documentation) centre
  • contributes to the prevention of torture by pursuing these objectives.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.mrct.org/

Research and Support Centre for Victims of Maltreatment and Social Exclusion (Kéntro Érevnas kai Ypostírixis Thymáton Kakopoíisis kai Koinonikoú Apokleismoú — ‘EKYThKKA’)

The Research and Support Centre for Victims of Maltreatment and Social Exclusion offers medical, psychological, social and legal support to victims of torture and organised violence, maltreatment and social exclusion.

The Research and Support Centre for Victims of Maltreatment and Social Exclusion

  • is a non-profit association governed by civil law
  • offers medical, psychological, social and legal support to victims of torture and organised violence, maltreatment and social exclusion
  • raises awareness of human rights issues, and disseminates knowledge of the existence of manifestations of violence and social exclusion and methods to deal with them both in Greece and abroad
  • offers humanitarian assistance to social groups that have been subjected to organised violence, torture, maltreatment and social exclusion, both in Greece and abroad
  • carries out scientific research on violence and torture, maltreatment and social exclusion
  • contributes to the prevention of torture, maltreatment and social exclusion.


CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cvme.gr/

Greek Council for Refugees (Ellinikó Symvoúlio gia tous Prósfyges)

The Greek Council for Refugees is a non-governmental organisation supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Greece through a wide range of psychosocial and legal services.

The Greek Council for Refugees

  • is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1989 to support refugees and asylum seekers in Greece
  • helps refugees integrate smoothly in Greece through a wide range of psychosocial and legal services
  • is the only Greek non-governmental, non-profit organisation dealing exclusively with people who are seeking asylum in Greece and who are considered to be refugees
  • is registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity as a special charitable organisation
  • is one of the six non-governmental organisations that protect human rights in Greece and is a member of the National Commission for Human Rights (Ethnikí Epitropí gia ta Dikaiómata tou Anthrópou)
  • is an implementing partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and a member of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.gcr.gr/

Greek Helsinki Monitor (Ellinikó Paratiritírio ton Symfonión tou Elsínki)

The Greek Helsinki Monitor monitors, publishes articles and lobbies on human rights issues in Greece.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor

  • was founded in 1992
  • is the Greek member of the International Helsinki Federation on Human Rights
  • monitors, publishes and lobbies on human rights issues in Greece and, from time to time, in the Balkans
  • has participated in and frequently coordinated the monitoring of Greek and Balkan media for stereotypes and hate speech, and has prepared detailed annual reports, parallel/unofficial reports to UN treaty bodies, and specialised reports on maltreatment and on ethnic, ethno-linguistic, religious and immigrant communities.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttps://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/

Amnesty International Greek Section (Diethnís Amnistía Ellinikó Tmíma)

Amnesty International addresses governments, intergovernmental organisations, armed political groups, companies and other non-state actors and systematically and impartially investigates individual cases and patterns of human rights abuses.

Amnesty International

  • is a global, independent movement of volunteers fighting for the protection of human rights
  • defends prisoners of conscience, violence and poverty
  • seeks to end violence against women
  • seeks to abolish the death penalty, torture and limitations on freedom imposed in the name of the ‘war on terror’
  • combats discrimination against refugees, immigrants, minorities and defenders of human rights.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.amnesty.org.gr/

Last update: 24/06/2019

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Spain

Under Law 4/2015 of 27 April 2015, natural persons that are the victims of offences committed in or which may be prosecuted in Spain are considered to be victims of crime, regardless of their nationality, of whether they are of legal age or minors and of whether or not they are legally resident. The provisions of this Law shall apply:

a) As a direct victim, to any natural person who has suffered harm to his or her person or property, especially physical or mental injury, emotional suffering or economic loss directly caused by an offence.

b) As an indirect victim, in the event of death or disappearance of a person directly caused by an offence, except where the events are directly attributable to:

1. The victim’s spouse, where they are not legally or effectively separated, and to any children of the victim or of the victim’s spouse, where they are not legally or effectively separated, who are living with them at the time of the death or disappearance; any person who, at the time of the death or disappearance, is in a comparable sentimental relationship with the victim and any children of that person who are living with the victim at the time of the death or disappearance; to the victim's parents or direct or third-degree relatives for whom the victim has parental responsibility and persons under the victim’s guardianship or who are being fostered by the victim.

2. Where none of the above persons exist, other direct relatives and the victim’s siblings, with preference being given to the victim’s legal representative.

  • Basic victims’ rights: All victims are entitled to protection, information, support, assistance and care, as well as to participate actively in criminal proceedings and to receive respectful, professional, personal and non-discriminatory treatment from their first contact with the authorities or officials, while victim assistance and support and restorative justice services are being provided, throughout criminal proceedings and for a sufficient period of time after their conclusion, regardless of whether or not the identity of the offender is known and of the outcome of the proceedings.
  • Contact point: victim support offices

As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Criminal proceedings in Spain start with investigation of the crime, conducted by the judicial police under the supervision of an examining magistrate. At the end of the investigation the examining magistrate sends the case to the public prosecutor who decides what to do next. If there are not sufficient grounds to bring a case against the offender and the public prosecutor fails to press charges, the examining magistrate will dismiss (end) the proceedings. Otherwise, the case will be referred to the relevant court for trial.

During the trial the court examines the evidence and decides whether the alleged offender is guilty or not. If the offender is found guilty the court will impose a penalty. The criminal proceedings may continue with the possibility of an appeal before the higher court.

As a victim, you can take part in criminal proceedings as a witness or have a more active role as a private prosecutor and thus benefit from additional rights derived from being a party to the proceedings. In any case, pursuant to Article 124 of the Spanish Constitution, the public prosecutor shall safeguard the interests of victim/s throughout the proceedings.

The victims of offences related to gender-based violence are assisted by a specialised lawyer from the preliminary enquiries onwards. Following the reform of the Organic Law on the Judiciary (LOPJ) with Organic Law 7/2015, the courts with jurisdiction for violence against women also deal with offences against privacy, the right to self-image and honour of women and the offence of contempt of court or disregarding an interim measure.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

In general, as a victim, from the first contact with the authorities or officials and during intervention by the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, including prior to reporting the crime, you have the right to receive protection, information, support, assistance and care.

You can ask the authorities or officials you contact initially to refer you to the Crime Victim Support Offices (Oficinas de Asistencia a las Víctimas del delito), where you will be assisted free of charge and confidentially, even if you have not previously reported the crime.

You may also be accompanied by a person of your choice from the first contact with the authorities and officials.

Furthermore, as a victim, you have the right to understand and be understood in any action that has to be carried once the crime has been reported, including the information prior to lodging the report, with interpreting being provided in legally recognised sign languages, as well as means of support for oral communication in cases where this is needed.

All communication, both oral and written, will take place in clear, simple and accessible language and will take into account your personal characteristics and needs, especially if you have any sensory, intellectual or mental disability or if you are a minor.

The information to which you are entitled as a victim and which will be provided to you from the first contact with the authorities or officials and during the intervention of the assistance and support services mainly concerns:

  • the procedure for reporting the crime and obtaining advice and the assistance of a lawyer and, where appropriate, the conditions under which this may be obtained free of charge;
  • the assistance and support measures available to you, whether these are medical, psychological or material, and the procedure for obtaining them;
  • the possibility of requesting protection measures and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so;
  • the compensation to which you may be entitled and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming it;
  • the restorative justice services available, in cases where this is legally possible;
  • the cases in which you can be refunded for legal expenses and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming them.

If you need it, you can also receive information about the interpreting and translation services, and the communication aids and services available.

If you are not resident in Spain, you are entitled to receive information about the procedure for exercising your rights.

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

If you are a victim of a crime and you reside in Spain, you will be able to report criminal acts that were committed in other European Union countries to the Spanish authorities.

In the event the Spanish authorities decide not to proceed with the investigation owing to lack of jurisdiction, they will immediately forward the report to the competent authorities of the State where the acts were committed, and they will inform you of this as the complainant.

If you are a citizen of an EU Member State and ordinarily resident in Spain and the crime you are a victim of was committed in an EU Member State other than Spain (victim of a crime in cross-border situations), you can go to the Crime Victim Support Offices, which can provide you with information on the legal proceedings to follow in the country where the crime was committed and on the compensation to which you may be entitled. If it is a terrorist crime, you should contact the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism (Dirección General de Apoyo a las Víctimas del Terrorismo del Ministerio del Interior).

If you are a citizen who is not resident in Spain, you have the right to an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language. The police can provide you with a form in your language for reporting the crime, and access to an interpreter by telephone or in person. The courts have an interpreter service, which will coordinate with the Crime Victim Support Offices. Furthermore, if you are not resident in Spain, you are entitled to receive information about the procedure for exercising your rights.

If you are the beneficiary of a protection order issued in a Member State, you can request a European protection order. Using a simplified and accelerated process, you will be granted protection through a new protection measure taken by the Member State to which you are travelling or moving.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

At the time of reporting a crime, you are entitled to receive a duly certified copy of the report. You will also be entitled to free language assistance and a written translation of the copy of the report you file, if you do not understand or speak any of the official languages of the place where the crime is reported

You will also be entitled to receive information about the following:

  • the care and support measures available to you, whether medical, psychological or material, and the procedure for obtaining them, including, if necessary and appropriate, information concerning the possibilities of obtaining alternative accommodation;
  • the right to give evidence to the authorities in charge of the investigation;
  • the possibility of requesting protection measures and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so;
  • the compensation to which you may be entitled and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming it;
  • the interpreting and translation services available;
  • any communication aids and services available;
  • the procedures through which you can exercise your rights if you live outside Spain;
  • the appeals you can lodge against any rulings you consider to be incompatible with your rights;
  • the contact details of the authority in charge of handling the procedure and the communication channels you can use with them;
  • the restorative justice services available, in cases where this is legally possible;
  • the cases in which you can be reimbursed for legal expenses and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming them;
  • the right to make a general request to be notified of certain decisions in the proceedings such as, among others, the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings, the final judgment in the proceedings, decisions to imprison or subsequently release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody, and decisions of any judicial or prison authority affecting persons convicted of crimes committed using violence or intimidation that pose a risk to your safety.

Furthermore, you will be informed of the date, time and place of the trial, as well as the substance of the charges against the offender.

If you are a victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you will be notified of the decisions to imprison or subsequently release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody, in addition to those approving personal precautionary measures or amending measures already agreed, where they are intended to ensure your safety, without your needing to ask for them, except in any cases where you express the wish not to receive these notifications.

You will also be able to access the assistance and support services from the Crime Victim Support Offices free of charge and confidentially. You can be referred to these Offices where necessary depending on the seriousness of the crime or when you so request.

Where the crimes in question have caused particularly serious damage, the public administrations and Crime Victim Support Offices may extend to your family members the right of access to the assistance and support services. To that end, family members are defined as people linked to you by marriage or similar relationship, and relatives up to the second degree (grandparents, siblings and grandchildren).

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

If you are a citizen who is not resident in Spain, you have the right to an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language. The police can provide you with a form in your language for reporting the crime, and access to an interpreter by telephone or in person. The courts have an interpreter service, which will coordinate with the Crime Victim Support Office.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with information about your right to free language assistance and to the written translation of the copy of the report if you do not understand or speak any of the official languages in the place where you report the crime.

In particular, you are entitled to:

  • be assisted free of charge by an interpreter who speaks a language you understand when you give evidence to the judge, public prosecutor or police officials during the investigation, or when you appear as witness in the trial or any public hearing.

This right will also apply if you have hearing or speech impairments;

  • the translation free of charge of certain decisions in the proceedings such as, among others, the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings, the final judgment in the proceedings, decisions to imprison or subsequently release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody, and decisions of any judicial or prison authority affecting persons convicted of crimes committed using violence or intimidation that pose a risk to your safety, and the decision to close the investigation.

You can request that the translation include a short summary of the grounds of the decision taken;

  • the translation free of charge of any information that is essential for you to take part in the criminal proceedings. To that end, you can submit a reasoned request for a document to be considered essential;
  • be informed, in a language you understand, of the date, time and place of the trial.

Assistance from an interpreter may be provided by means of video conference or any telecommunication medium, unless the judge or court, ex officio or at the request of one of the parties, agrees to have the interpreter physically present to safeguard your rights.

The written translation of documents may be exceptionally substituted by an oral summary of their content in a language you understand to ensure the fairness of the proceedings.

If you would like police actions to be interpreted or translated and this is not provided, you can appeal to the examining judge. The appeal is considered to have been lodged from the time at which you expressed your disagreement with being denied the interpreting or translation requested.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

In general, as a victim, from the first contact with the authorities or officials and during intervention by the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, including prior to reporting the crime, you have the right to receive protection, information, support, assistance and care.

You can ask the authorities or officials you contact initially to refer you to the Crime Victim Support Offices, where they will assist you free of charge and confidentially, even if you have not previously reported the crime.

You may also be accompanied by a person of your choice from the first contact with the authorities and officials.

Furthermore, you have the right to understand and be understood in any action that has to be carried out once the crime has been reported, including the information prior to lodging the report, with interpreting being provided in legally recognised sign languages, as well as means of support for oral communication in cases where this is needed.

All communication, both oral and written, will take place in clear, simple and accessible language and will take into account your personal characteristics and needs, especially if you have any sensory, intellectual or mental disability or if you are a minor.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

If you are a victim of crime, you have the right to access, free of charge and confidentially, the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, as well as those provided by the Crime Victim Support Offices.

Crime Victim Support Offices are a public multidisciplinary service provided free of charge to meet victims’ needs, set up by the Ministry of Justice.

There are Offices in all the Link opens in new windowautonomous communities, in nearly all provincial capitals, as well as in other cities.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with comprehensive, coordinated and specialist support as a victim of crime, meeting your specific legal, psychological and social needs.

If you are a victim of terrorism, you can contact the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office (Oficina de Información y Asistencia a Víctimas del Terrorismo de la Audiencia Nacional), although you may contact the Crime Victim Support Office in your province if you wish. The Crime Victim Support Office will then coordinate with the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office.

The right of access continues during the intervention of the assistance and support services and, where appropriate, the restorative justice services, throughout the entire criminal proceedings and for an appropriate period of time after they end, regardless of whether the offender’s identity is known and of the outcome of the proceedings, including the time prior to the crime being reported.

Where the crimes in question have caused particularly serious damage, the public administrations and Crime Victim Support Offices may extend to your family members the right of access to the assistance and support services. To that end, family members are defined as people linked to you by marriage or similar relationship, and relatives up to the second degree (grandparents, siblings and grandchildren).

If you have underage children or you are a minor who is subject to guardianship, custody by a female victim of gender-based violence or by persons who are victims of domestic violence, you will be entitled to the specific assistance and protection measures established by law.

In addition, if you are a victim of terrorist crimes or gender-based violence or you are a minor, you will also have the rights recognised by the specific legislation for each type of crime.

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

The State police officials and, where appropriate, the police of the autonomous community where the crime occurred, will carry out an initial individual assessment of your situation when you report the crime, to determine your protection needs and to identify you, if applicable, as a vulnerable victim. During this initial assessment, you will receive information on the possibility of going to a Crime Victim Support Office.

Any authority or official who comes into contact with you must refer you to the Crime Victim Support Offices where necessary, depending on the seriousness of the crime or in any cases where you so request.

How is my privacy protected?

Access to the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, as well as those provided by the Crime Victim Support Offices, will in all cases be confidential.

The information you provide to police officials or any authority or official who assists you from the first moment may only be passed on to other assistance and support services, such as the Crime Victim Support Offices, with your prior and informed consent.

The victim support services may only supply the information they have received about you to third parties with your prior and informed consent.

With respect to the judicial sphere, the judges, courts, public prosecutors and other authorities and officials in charge of the criminal investigation, as well as any others that are in any way involved or take part in the proceedings, will take the necessary measures, in accordance with the law, to protect your privacy and that of your family members and, in particular, to prevent the dissemination of any information that may reveal your identity if you are an underage victim or a person with a disability in need of special protection.

Moreover, the judicial authority may prohibit the obtaining, disclosure or publication of images of you or your family members, especially if you are an underage victim or a person with a disability in need of special protection.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

Every victim has a right of access to the assistance and support services from the Crime Victim Support Offices free of charge and on a confidential basis.

Access to the assistance and support services will not be conditional on reporting a crime beforehand.

Personal protection if I’m in danger

What types of protection are available?

The authorities and officials in charge of the investigation, prosecution and trial of the crimes will take the necessary measures established by law to safeguard the life of the victim and their family members, their mental and physical wellbeing, freedom, safety, sexual freedom and integrity, as well as to adequately protect their privacy and dignity, particularly when they are making statements or have to testify in court.

The public prosecutor will particularly ensure the fulfilment of this entitlement to protection in the case of underage victims, taking the appropriate measures in their best interest where necessary to prevent or reduce the damage that may arise for them from the conduct of the proceedings.

If you are an underage victim or victim with a disability (victims in need of special protection), there is the possibility of evidence being examined before the trial by experts and your interview with a specially trained team in a special room being recorded.

Who can offer me protection?

Your particular circumstances will be assessed to determine which protection measures must be taken.

The following are responsible for both assessing and deciding these kinds of measures:

  • during the investigation of the crime, the examining judge or the judge dealing with violence against women, without prejudice to the provisional assessment and decision that must be carried out and taken by:
  • the public prosecutor, during their investigations or in proceedings concerning underage victims, or
  • the police officials involved in the initial phase of the investigations;
  • during the trial, the judge or court responsible for trying the case.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

Yes, because your particular circumstances will always be assessed first to determine which protection measures must be taken.

The State police officials and, where appropriate, the police of the autonomous community where the crime occurred, will carry out an initial individual assessment of your situation when you report the crime, to determine your protection needs and to identify you, if applicable, as a vulnerable victim. During this initial assessment, you will receive information on the possibility of going to a Crime Victim Support Office.

If you are assisted in a Crime Victim Support Office, this service will also carry out an individual assessment of your case. The information collected in the police assessment may be passed on to the Office if you consent to this.

The individual assessment will consider the needs you express as well as your wishes, and will fully respect your physical, mental and moral integrity.

It will especially take the following into consideration:

  • your personal characteristics, situation, immediate needs, gender, disability and level of maturity, and will assess, in particular, whether you are a person with a disability or you have a relationship of dependence with the alleged perpetrator of the crime, whether you are an underage victim or whether you need special protection or there are other factors of particular vulnerability present;
  • the nature of the crime you are a victim of and the seriousness of the damage caused, as well as the risk of the crime reoccurring. Your protection needs will be especially assessed if you are a victim of crimes of terrorism, crimes committed by a criminal organisation, gender-based and domestic violence, crimes against sexual freedom and integrity, human trafficking, enforced disappearance and crimes committed for racist, anti-Semitic or other reasons concerning ideology, religion or beliefs, family situation, membership of an ethnicity, race or nation, your national origin, your gender, sexual orientation or identity, or for reasons of gender, illness or disability;
  • the circumstances of the crime, in particular in the case of violent crimes.

If you are underage or you have any disability and need special protection, your opinions and interests will also be taken into account, as well as your personal circumstances, and the principles of the best interest of the underage or disabled person in need of special protection will be respected in particular, as well as their right to information, non-discrimination, right to confidentiality, privacy and the right to be protected.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

Yes, during the investigation of the crime, it will be the examining judge or judge dealing with violence against women or, if it is a crime of gender-based violence, the public prosecutor or the police officials involved in the initial phase of the investigations who will assess and determine the protection measures that may be appropriate for you.

If you are in danger, you will receive police protection.

Your evidence will be given via video conference for reasons of safety, public order, utility or to preserve your dignity.

If you are victim of certain specific crimes that lead to special protection measures being granted to their victims, such as gender-based violence, domestic violence, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation, injury, crimes against freedom, torture, crimes against the individual, against sexual freedom, privacy, the right to self-image, the inviolability of the home, honour and socio-economic order, you have the right to one of the following bans being imposed on the aggressor if it is strictly necessary for your protection: ban on residing in or going to a place, neighbourhood, city or region, ban on approaching you or communicating with certain people.

The following measures may be taken during the investigation for your protection:

  • you may give of evidence in specially designed or adapted facilities to specially trained professionals;
  • if you have to give evidence several times, the evidence will be taken by the same person, unless this could significantly jeopardise the conduct of the proceedings or your evidence must be taken directly by a judge or public prosecutor;
  • if you are a victim of gender-based violence, domestic violence, a crime against sexual freedom or integrity, your evidence may be given by someone of the same sex where you so request, unless this could significantly jeopardise the conduct of the proceedings or your evidence must be taken directly by a judge or public prosecutor.

If you are summoned to testify and the judge sees you are at serious risk or your freedom, property or family is at risk, he/she can take the following action:

  • protect your identity, address, profession and workplace, not using this information in the proceedings;
  • prevent you from being seen in court and establishing the court as address for notifications;
  • prevent your image from being recorded in any way;
  • order police protection during and after the proceedings;
  • provide you with transport to the court in official cars;
  • in the courts, place you in waiting rooms guarded by the police;
  • in exceptional circumstances, provide you with a new identity and financial aid to change your place of residence or of work.

If you are victim of a crime of gender-based or domestic violence, you can get a ‘protection order’ that includes general precautionary measures against the aggressor (ban on residing or going to certain places, neighbourhoods, cities or regions, ban on approaching or communicating with certain people).

During the judicial proceedings, the judge or president of the court may order a private hearing (restricting the presence of audiovisual media in the trial sessions and prohibiting the recording of all or some of the hearings) to protect morality, public order and you as a victim and/or your family. They may also prohibit disclosure of the identity of the experts or any other people who take part in the trial.

As private prosecutor, you could request a private hearing.

During the proceedings, the following measures may be taken for your protection:

  • measures that prevent you from having visual contact with the alleged perpetrator and that ensure you can be heard without being present in the courtroom; communication technologies may be used for this (setting up a screen in the courtroom and making statements via video conference);
  • measures to prevent questions from being asked that are related to your private life and have no relevance to the criminal act being prosecuted, unless the judge or court exceptionally considers that they must be answered;
  • holding the oral hearing in private, although the judge or president of the court may authorise the presence of persons who can prove special interest in the case.

The measures to prevent visual contact with the alleged perpetrator and the asking of questions regarding your private life may also be taken during the investigation.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

In the case of vulnerable victims, such as underage victims and victims with disabilities in need of special protection, in addition to the measures set out in the section ‘Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during the investigation and trial)?’, the following measures will be applicable during the proceedings:

  • the statements obtained will be recorded by audiovisual media and may be reproduced in the trial in the cases and under the conditions determined by law;
  • the statement may be obtained by means of experts.

If you are an underage victim or victim with a disability (victims in need of special protection), there is the possibility of evidence being examined before the trial by experts and your interview with a specially trained team in a special room being recorded.

Furthermore, at the request of the public prosecutor, it may be possible to appoint a guardian ad litem if you are an especially vulnerable victim and in certain cases, such as where there is a conflict of interests with your legal representative, or with one of the parents, provided the other parent is unable to adequately perform their duties of representation and assistance of the victim. 

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

If you are a minor, during the crime investigation phase you will be treated according to protocols that are specially created to protect you. Special precautions will be taken when you have to give evidence. The public prosecutor, who has the specific duty to protect minors, must always be present. Visual contact between you and the aggressor must be prevented using any technical means.

You will be interviewed by a specially trained team in a special room, which will not seem threatening to you, as there is the possibility of evidence being examined before the trial by experts and the interview being recorded.

You can give evidence just once, in the presence of the examining judge, the court clerk and all the parties to the proceedings, and not again during the trial.

During the judicial proceedings, if you are a minor giving evidence, visual contact between you and the accused will be prevented by any technical means possible.

Confrontation is also restricted.

In addition to the measures set out in the section ‘Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during the investigation and trial)?’, the following measures will be applicable during the proceedings:

  • the statements obtained will be recorded by audiovisual media and may be reproduced in the trial in the cases and under the conditions determined by law;
  • the statement may be obtained by means of experts.

Furthermore, at the request of the public prosecutor, it may be possible to appoint a guardian ad litem if you are an especially vulnerable victim and in certain cases, such as where there is a conflict of interests with your legal representative, or with one of the parents, provided the other parent is unable to adequately perform their duties of representation and assistance for the victim. 

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

If a family member has died because of a crime, you will be an indirect victim of the crime caused to your family member (direct victim) if you are in certain situations provided for by law (excluding in all cases the person responsible for the crime), as well as if you were the spouse of the direct victim and you were not legally separated or living apart; if you were the child of the direct victim or of the spouse not legally separated or living apart and you were living with them; if you were linked to the direct victim through a similar relationship and living with them, among other situations.

Remember that all victims are entitled to bring a criminal action and civil action according to the law and to appear before the authorities in charge of the investigation to provide them with the evidence and information considered relevant to clarify the facts.

As an indirect victim, you will have confidential access free of charge to the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, as well as those provided by the Victim Support Offices, provided that it has been considered appropriate to extend this right to the family members of the direct victim given that the crimes have caused particularly serious damage. To that end, family members will be defined only as the people linked to the direct victim by marriage or similar relationship, and relatives up to the second degree (grandparents, siblings and grandchildren).

As an indirect victim, you may receive information about the assistance and support measures available, whether medical, psychological or material, and the procedure for obtaining them, as well as the compensation to which you may be entitled and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming it.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will advise you about the economic entitlements related to the proceedings, in particular, regarding financial aid for damages caused by the crime and the procedure to claim it, and they will offer you the emotional support and therapeutic assistance you need, thus ensuring the appropriate psychological assistance to overcome the traumatic consequences of the crime.

In terms of the financial aid to which you are entitled as an indirect victim of crime, in Spain there is a system of public aid for the benefit of indirect victims of intentional and violent crimes committed in Spain resulting in death or serious damage to your mental health.

You must fulfil certain requirements to be considered an indirect victim for the purposes of financial aid (beneficiary):

  • be Spanish or a national of any other European Union Member State or, if neither of those cases applies to you, you must be ordinarily resident in Spain or a national of another State that grants similar aid to Spanish citizens in its territory. In the event of death, the nationality or ordinary residence of the deceased does not matter;
  • be the spouse of the deceased person, not legally separated or living apart, or the person who lived with the deceased permanently in a similar relationship for at least two years prior to their death, unless you had children together, in which case merely living together will suffice. This also includes the children of the persons mentioned, even if they were not the children of the deceased person, provided they were financially dependent on that person and lived with them;
  • beneficiaries will not in any case include anyone convicted for intentional homicide in any of its forms, where the deceased was their spouse or person with whom they were or had been stably linked through a similar relationship;
  • be the child of the deceased person, who was financially dependent on that person and lived with them, assuming that children who are underage or disabled adults are financially dependent;
  • if you are the parent of the deceased person and you were financially dependent on that person, provided there is no one in the above situations;
  • the parents of minors who die as a direct consequence of the crime are also considered indirect victims for the purposes of the financial aid established by Spanish law.

You must claim the aid within one year of the date on which the crime occurred. In the event that the death occurred as a direct consequence of bodily injuries or damage to health, a new time-limit of equal duration will be triggered to claim the aid.

As a general rule, the granting of aid is conditional on a final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings having been taken.

The aid cannot be combined with the compensation established by means of the judgment, although all or part of the aid will be paid where the person guilty of the crime has been declared partially insolvent, or with the compensation or aid from private insurance if the amount is higher than the amount set in the judgment, or with the social security subsidy that could be payable owing to the temporary disability of the victim.

The amount of aid may not in any case exceed the compensation set in the judgment.

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

As a victim, you are entitled to receive information about alternative dispute resolution with the use, where appropriate, of mediation and other restorative justice measures, and about the available restorative justice services, in the cases in which this is legally possible. The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with this information.

In addition, the Crime Victim Support Offices will be able to propose to the judicial body that criminal mediation be used where this is considered beneficial for you, and they will provide support to the restorative justice services and other out-of-court settlement procedures established by law.

You can access restorative justice services to obtain appropriate compensation for the material and non-material losses arising from the crime, where the following requirements are met:

  • the offender has recognised the essential facts from which their liability arises;
  • you have given your consent, after having received exhaustive and impartial information about their content, their possible outcomes and the procedures in place to enforce compliance;
  • the offender has given their consent;
  • the mediation procedure does not entail a risk to your safety, nor is there any danger that conducting it may cause you new material or non-material losses;
  • it is not prohibited by law for the crime committed.

The discussions held as part of the mediation procedure will be confidential and may not be disseminated without your consent and the offender’s consent.

The mediators and other professionals who take part in the mediation procedure will be subject to professional secrecy in relation to the events and statements they have had knowledge of in the performance of their duty.

Both you and the offender will be able to revoke your consent to participate in the mediation process at any time.

Mediation usually takes place in the case of less serious crimes.

In juvenile justice (ages 14 to 18), mediation is expressly laid down as a means to re-educate the minor. In this area, the mediation is carried out by the teams who support the juvenile prosecution service, although it may also be carried out by agencies from the autonomous communities and other entities such as certain specialist associations.

In the area of adult justice, mediation is included as part of restorative justice services, with various pilot programmes in place for several years now.

With regard to the safety of mediation for you, at all times you will have any physical protection measures required and any other measures required by the circumstances that can be granted by the judicial authority.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

  • Código Penal (Spanish Criminal Code) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Código Civil (Spanish Code of Civil Procedure) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal (Criminal Procedure Rules) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley 4/2015, de 27 de abril, del Estatuto de la víctima del delito (Law 4/2015 of 27 April 2015 on the standing of crime victims) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Real Decreto 1109/2015, de 11 de diciembre, por el que se desarrolla la Ley 4/2015, de 27 de abril, del Estatuto de la víctima del delito, y se regulan las Oficinas de Asistencia a las Víctimas del Delito (Royal Decree 1109/2015 of 11 December 2015 implementing Law 4/2015 of 27 April 2015 on the standing of crime victims and regulating the Crime Victim Support Offices) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley Orgánica 8/2015, de 22 de julio y Ley 26/2015, de 22 de julio, de modificación del sistema de protección de la infancia y de la adolescencia (Organic Law 8/2015 of 22 July 2015 and Law 26/2015 of 22 July 2015 amending the system for the protection of children and adolescents) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley 23/2014, de 20 de noviembre, de reconocimiento mutuo de resoluciones penales en la Unión Europea (Law 23/2014 of 20 November 2014 on mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters in the European Union) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Real Decreto 671/2013, de 6 de septiembre, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de la Ley 29/2011 (Royal Decree 671/2013 of 6 September 2013 establishing detailed arrangements for implementing Law 29/2011) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley 29/2011, de 22 de septiembre, de Reconocimiento y Protección Integral a las Víctimas de Terrorismo (Law 29/2011 of 22 September 2011 on Recognition and Comprehensive Protection of Victims of Terrorism) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley Orgánica 1/2004, de 28 de diciembre, de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género (Organic Law 1/2004 of 28 December 2004 on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender-Based Violence) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley Orgánica 5/2000, de 12 de enero, reguladora de la responsabilidad penal de los menores (Organic Law 5/2000 of 12 January 2000 regulating the criminal responsibility of children) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley Orgánica 1/1996, de 15 de enero, de Protección Jurídica del Menor (Organic Law 1/1996 of 15 January 1996 on Legal Protection for Children) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley 1/1996, de 10 de enero, de asistencia jurídica gratuita (Law 1/1996 of 10 January 1996 on legal aid) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley 35/1995, de 11 de diciembre, de ayuda y asistencia a las víctimas de delitos violentos y contra la libertad sexual (Law 35/1995 of 11 December 1995 on aid and assistance for victims of violent crimes and crimes against sexual freedom) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Real Decreto 738/1997, de 23 de mayo, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de ayudas a las víctimas de delitos violentos y contra la libertad sexual (Royal Decree 738/1997 of 23 May 1997 approving the Regulation on aid for victims of violent crimes and crimes against sexual freedom) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish
  • Ley Orgánica 19/1994, de 23 de diciembre, de protección a testigos y peritos en causas criminales (Organic Law 19/1994 of 23 December 1994 on protection for witnesses and experts in criminal cases) – Link opens in new windowin Spanish

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

If you are a victim of crime you are entitled, from the first contact with the authorities or officials, to receive information about your right to report the crime and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so.

You can report the crime to the police and become a witness in the procedure that will be followed. You can also ask the police to refer you to the appropriate Crime Victim Support Office (Oficina de Asistencia a las Víctimas del delito), where you will be provided with information about how to report the crime.

Access to care and support services such as the Crime Victim Support Offices is free and confidential; it is not necessary to report the crime first.

As the person reporting the crime, you have the following rights:

  • to obtain a copy of the report, duly certified;
  • to free language assistance and a written translation of the copy of the report you file, if you do not understand or speak any of the official languages in the place where the report is filed. If you do not speak or understand Spanish or the official language used in the proceedings in question, you will be entitled to be assisted, free of charge, by an interpreter who speaks a language you understand when you give evidence during the investigation phase before the judge, public prosecutor or police officials;
  • if you have asked to be notified of certain decisions such as the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings or the final judgement in the proceedings, you have the right to be informed of the date, time and place of the trial, as well as the content of the accusation against the offender.

You can also bring an action against the offender and become a party to the proceedings as private prosecutor, with rights very similar to the public prosecutor.

Apart from ordinary cases, where the public prosecutor files the charges against the offender, there are two types of crimes where your role is very important to start the proceedings:

  • the proceedings for semi-public crimes require you to report the crime or bring an action in order to start; the public prosecutor then assumes responsibility for the charges against the offender. However, for proceedings against private crimes (e.g. slander) it is completely up to you: the public prosecutor does not have any responsibility regarding charges against the offender and you can withdraw the report at any time, ending the proceedings.

You can report the crime in any language and if you do not speak Spanish or any of the respective regional languages you have the right to an interpreter free of charge. In practice, if no one at the police station speaks your language, the police will offer you the following:

  • if the crime is not serious, you will be able to report it using a form in your language;
  • if the crime is serious, you will be provided with an interpreter via telephone or in person.

There are English, French and German interpreters at some police stations, especially in summer.

There is no time limit for you to report the crime, but there are time limits after which it will not be possible to prosecute the crime: from 10 to 20 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime. No specific way of reporting a crime is required by the authorities. You can report it in writing or orally, in which case the competent authority will take note of the report. You must give your name, address, ID number, telephone number, etc. and you must sign the report.

At the time of reporting the crime, if you are victim of a crime of gender-based violence or domestic violence, you can request a protection order from the police. You can also request a protection order directly from the judicial authority or public prosecutor, the Crime Victim Support Offices or social services or care institutions attached to the public administrations.

In all cases, you will be provided with forms to request the protection order and you will be given information about this order.

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

When you file a report, you receive a certified copy with a reference number.

As the victim, you can obtain information from the police about the development of the proceedings, unless it could be detrimental to the investigation. In practice, it is better to call the respective police body and ask for information.

Generally speaking, you have the right – if you have made the relevant request – to receive information about the date, time and place of the trial and the content of the accusation against the offender, as well as to be notified of the following decisions:

  • the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings;
  • the final judgement in the proceedings;
  • decisions to imprison or release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody and decisions adopting precautionary measures for your protection.

If you have asked to be referred to a Crime Victim Support Office or you are receiving care from one of these Offices, you have the right to receive information on the contact details of the authority responsible for handling the proceedings and the channels for communicating with this authority, as well as information on the date, time and place of the trial and the content of the accusation against the offender.

If you are a victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you have the right to be informed about the procedural situation of the aggressor and the precautionary measures taken, without having to ask for this. You may at any time express your desire not to receive the information.

If you are victim of a violent crime against sexual freedom, you have the right to receive information about the State compensation to which you are entitled if the aggressor does not pay your compensation or if it is not sufficient.

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

From the first contact with the authorities or officials, you are entitled to receive information about the procedure to obtain legal advice and defence and, where applicable, the conditions under which you may be able to get this free of charge. The Crime Victim Support Offices will also provide you with this information.

You will be able to submit your request to have your entitlement to legal aid recognised to the official or authority who has given you the information about the procedure for obtaining legal advice and defence and, where applicable, obtaining this for free. The official or authority will forward it, together with the documentation provided, to the relevant bar association.

Your request may also be submitted to the Justice Administration’s Crime Victim Support Offices, which will forward it to the relevant bar association.

In general, you can benefit from legal guidance services that offer information about the law to all citizens. These services are organised by bar associations in each judicial area.

You have to complete a form that can be found in courts, at the Ministry of Justice and at other State offices and prove that your means of support are insufficient. You must submit your request to the bar association in the area of the respective court or at the court in the area where you reside, if the criminal proceedings have still not begun.

If you are a victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you do not need to first prove that your means are insufficient in order to obtain legal aid.

If you are a victim of terrorism, you can also obtain legal aid.

You can request legal aid in Spain if you are in one of the following situations, among others:

  • if you are a citizen of any EU Member State and you prove that your resources are insufficient;
  • if you are a citizen of a third country and legally resident in Spain or with a right recognised in international agreements (e.g. agreements on international child abduction). In this case, you will be able to access legal aid in Spain under the same conditions as EU citizens;
  • regardless of the existence of resources to institute legal proceedings, your right to legal aid will be recognised and this aid will be provided to you immediately if you are a victim of gender-based violence, terrorism or human trafficking in any proceedings that are linked to, derived from or a result of your status as a victim, or if you are a minor or have a learning disability or mental illness when you are the victim of situations of abuse or mistreatment.

This right will also apply to successors in the event of the victim’s death, provided that they were not involved in the acts.

For the purposes of granting legal aid, you will be considered a victim when a report or action is filed, or when criminal proceedings are initiated, for any of the crimes mentioned, and you will maintain this status as long as the criminal proceedings are in force or where a guilty verdict has been issued following the conclusion of the proceedings.

The right to legal aid will be lost once an acquittal becomes final, or following the temporary stay or dismissal of proceedings because the criminal acts are not proven, without the obligation to pay the cost of the benefits enjoyed free of charge up to that point.

In the different proceedings that may be initiated as a result of your status as victim of the crimes identified and, in particular, in gender-based violence proceedings, it must be the lawyer him or herself who assists you, provided that your right of defence is thus duly guaranteed.

You have the right to legal aid if your yearly income and income per family unit do not exceed:

  • twice the public index of income (indicador público de renta de efectos múltiples – IPREM) in force at the time of making the request, where the persons in question are not a part of any family unit. The IPREM is an index that is fixed annually and used to determine the amount of certain benefits or the threshold for accessing certain benefits, entitlements or public services;
  • two and a half times the IPREM in force at the time of making the request, where the persons in question are part of any of the types of family unit with fewer than four members;
  • three times the IPREM where the family units in question are formed of four or more members.

The annual IPREM for 2016 is €6 390.13.

If you are granted legal aid, you will not have to pay the following costs:

  1. preliminary legal advice;
  2. lawyer and court representative (procurador) fees;
  3. costs arising from the publication of notices in official newspapers;
  4. the deposits required to file certain appeals;
  5. payments for experts;
  6. you will benefit from an 80 % reduction on the amount for notarial deeds and certifications from the land and trade registers.

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

In general, if as the victim of a crime you have taken part in the proceedings, you will be entitled to be reimbursed for the expenses needed to exercise your rights and the legal costs that have been incurred in preference to payment of the expenses that have been incurred for the State.

To that end, the payment must be imposed in the sentence and, in addition, the accused must have been convicted, at your request as the victim, for crimes for which the public prosecutor has not made an accusation, or have been convicted after the decision to close the case has been revoked due to an appeal you have lodged as victim.

The assistance and support services and, in particular, the Crime Victim Support Offices, will provide you with information on the cases in which you may be reimbursed for legal expenses and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming them.

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

If you are a victim who has not appeared in the proceedings and the public prosecutor decides to withdraw the charges against the offender, the judge can inform you of this and invite you to bring an action and become a private prosecutor within 15 days. In the case of a fast-track procedure, the judge is obligated to inform you and invite you.

If the public prosecutor brings charges against the offender, you cannot do anything as victim to end the proceedings, except in private crimes.

If you have already appeared in the proceedings and you are a private prosecutor, you can request the opening of the oral proceedings and bring charges against the offender. If the investigating judge decides to end the proceedings, i.e. dismiss the case, you can appeal.

If the public prosecutor brings charges against the offender, you can ask to have the case dismissed and withdraw from your role as private prosecutor. The public prosecutor may continue, however, if it so decides.

Can I be involved in the trial?

In your first appearance in court, the legal counsel will inform you of the your rights in the criminal proceedings as victim and will offer you the possibility of entering the proceedings as a private party, using clear, simple and understandable language, taking your characteristics and needs into account.

As victim of a crime, in criminal proceedings you are entitled to the following:

  • to bring criminal and civil actions according to the provisions of the criminal legislation in force;
  • to appear before the authorities in charge of the investigation to provide them with sources of evidence and relevant information to clarify the facts.

Furthermore, at this initial appearance you will be asked if you wish to receive the communications or notifications established by law, in which case you must provide an email address or, failing that, a home or postal address.

Regardless of your role in the criminal proceedings, you can usually be present at the hearings, even if they are not public. You will only be obliged to attend to testify as a witness.

If you are a victim who has not appeared in the criminal proceedings, you will be informed of the date and place of the trial. Your main role will be to testify as a witness. So that you can be notified of the date and time of the trial, you must communicate any change in your address during the proceedings.

You can appear in the proceedings as private prosecutor before the indictment is prepared, i.e. before the start of the oral proceedings, except in the case of criminal proceedings against a minor. The public prosecutor, private prosecutor, if there is one, and defence lawyer prepare the indictment. This document includes these persons' classification of the offence and recommended penalty. In practice, each party has five days to present its position in writing.

Generally, you will be represented by your lawyer, who will defend your case, and by your court representative, who will represent you formally in the proceedings.

If there are multiple victims, they will be able to appear separately, although the judge may require them to be grouped into one or several defences. Victims’ associations will also be able to appear in the criminal proceedings, provided that they have your permission as victim of the crime.

If you are already private prosecutor, your lawyer will have access to the summary and the other case documents, and other rights, similar to those of the public prosecutor, including the following:

  • to request the collection of more evidence;
  • to propose new witnesses or experts who will support your case;
  • to propose confrontations, etc.

In the event the accused is convicted, the court may order him/her to pay you the following costs: the cost of lawyers and court representatives, experts, certificates from public registers and notaries, etc.

As part of the criminal proceedings, you can bring a civil action (civil party) if you claim the restitution of property, the making good of the damage or the compensation for damages, both material and non-material, caused by the crime. In this case, you will be represented by your lawyer, who will defend your case, and by your court representative, who will represent you formally in the proceedings.

In the event it is decided to close the investigation, the decision to dismiss the case will be communicated to the direct victims of the crime who have reported the acts, as well as the other direct victims whose identities and places of residence are known. In cases of death or disappearance of a person as a direct result of a crime, the decision will be communicated to the indirect victims of the crime.

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

As victim of a crime, in criminal proceedings you are entitled to the following:

  • to bring criminal and civil actions according to the provisions of the criminal legislation in force;
  • to appear before the authorities in charge of the investigation to provide them with sources of evidence and relevant information to clarify the facts.

The different roles you can perform in the justice system are:

  • direct or indirect victim: according to the crime reported or, in the case of requesting access to victim assistance and support services, without having previously reported the crime, since access to these services is not dependent on submitting a report;
  • witness: if there is a report. Your involvement in the proceedings takes place once you receive the summons;
  • private prosecutor: if you decide to appear in the criminal proceedings as private prosecutor, in the event you bring an action against the offender (semi-public crimes and private crimes) and before the indictment is prepared, i.e. before the oral proceeding begins, except in the case of criminal proceedings against a minor;
  • civil party: in general, if you decide to bring a civil action as part of the criminal proceedings, i.e. you claim the restitution of property, the making good of the damage or the compensation for damages, both material and non-material, caused by the crime.

In general, you must be present at the hearings, even if they are not public. You will only be obliged to attend to give evidence as a witness.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

In general, as a victim, from the first contact with the authorities or officials and during the activity of the assistance and support services provided by the public administrations, including prior to reporting the crime, you have the right to receive protection, information, support, assistance and care.

You can ask the authorities or officials you contact initially to refer you to the Crime Victim Support Offices, where they will attend you free of charge and confidentially, even if you have not previously reported the crime.

You may also be accompanied by a person of your choice from the first contact with the authorities and officials.

Furthermore, as a victim you have the right to understand and be understood in any action that has to be carried out once the crime has been reported, including the information prior to lodging the report. Interpretation in legally recognised sign languages will be provided as well as means of support for oral communication in cases where this is needed.

All the communications made, both orally and in writing, will take place in clear, simple and accessible language and will take into account your personal characteristics and needs, especially if you have any sensory, intellectual or mental disability or if you are a minor.

As victim, you have the right to receive information mainly regarding the following:

  • the assistance and support measures available, whether these are medical, psychological or material, and the procedure for obtaining them. Where appropriate, these measures will include information about the possibilities of obtaining alternative accommodation;
  • the right to report the crime and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so and the right to provide evidence to the authorities in charge of the investigation;
  • the procedure for obtaining advice and legal defence and, where appropriate, the conditions under which it may be obtained free of charge;
  • the possibility of requesting protection measures and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so;
  • the compensation to which you may be entitled and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming it;
  • the interpreting and translation services available;
  • the auxiliary aid and services for communication available;
  • the procedure via which you may be able to exercise your rights in the event you live outside Spain;
  • appeals you can lodge against any decisions you consider to be incompatible with your rights;
  • the contact details of the authority in charge of handling the procedure and channels to communicate with them;
  • the restorative justice services available, in cases where this is legally possible;
  • the cases in which you can be reimbursed for legal expenses and, where appropriate, the procedure for claiming them;
  • the right to make a request to be notified of certain decisions in the proceedings such as, among others, the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings, the final judgement in the proceedings, etc.

Regardless of your role in the criminal proceedings, you can usually be present at the hearings, even if they are not public. You will only be obliged to attend to testify as a witness.

If you are a victim who has not appeared in the criminal proceedings, you will be informed of the date and place of the trial. Your main role will be to testify as a witness. To be able to notify you of the date and time of the trial, you must communicate any change in your address during the proceedings.

You can appear in the proceedings as private prosecutor before the indictment is prepared, i.e. before the start of the oral trial, except in the case of criminal proceedings against a minor. You will be represented by your lawyer, who will defend your case, and by your court representative, who will represent you formally in the proceedings.

}If you are already a private prosecutor, your lawyer will have access to the summary and the other case documents, and other rights, similar to those of the public prosecutor, including the following:

  • to request the collection of more evidence;
  • to propose new witnesses or experts who will support your case;
  • to propose confrontations, etc.

In the event the accused is convicted, the court may order him/her to pay you the following costs: the cost of lawyers and court representatives, experts, certificates from public registers and notaries, etc.

As witness, you have the right to an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language, but you do not have the possibility of document translation. Despite the fact that it is generally difficult to avoid eye contact with the accused and court buildings do not usually have different waiting rooms for witnesses, if you have been a victim of sexual assault you can:

  • benefit from a screen in the courtroom, or
  • testify via video conference.

If you are going to testify and you are in danger, the president of the court can order a private hearing to protect morality, public order and yourself as victim and/or your family. As private prosecutor, you could request a private hearing.

If you are summoned to testify and the judge sees you are at serious risk or your freedom, property or family is at risk, he/she can take one of the following actions:

  • protect your identity, address, profession and workplace, not using this information in the proceedings;
  • prevent you from being seen in the court and establishing the court as the address for notifications;
  • prevent your image from being recorded using any medium;
  • order police protection during and after the proceedings;
  • provide you with transport to the court in official cars;
  • at the court, place you in a waiting room guarded by the police;
  • in special circumstances, provide you with a new identity and financial aid to change location, residence and job.

If you are a minor making a statement, eye contact between you and the accused will be prevented using any technical medium possible. Confrontations are also restricted. If you have any conflict of interests with your legal representatives that does not make it possible to be confident that your interests will be adequately managed in the investigation or criminal proceedings, or the conflict is with one of your parents and the other parent is not able to adequately perform his/her duties to represent you or assist you, among other cases, the public prosecutor will ask for the judge or court to designate a guardian at litem for you, who will have the duty to represent you in the investigation and the criminal proceedings.

If you are a foreigner, you can have an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language. The police can offer you a form in your language for reporting the crime, and access to an interpreter by telephone or in person. The courts have an interpreter service that will be coordinated with the Crime Victim Support Office.

If you wish to bring a civil action in the criminal proceedings (civil party), you must appear with a lawyer and court representative at the time of offering the possibility of entering the proceedings as a private party and always before the offence is classified. In this case, you will be represented by your lawyer, who will defend your case, and by your court representative, who will represent you formally in the proceedings.

If you obtain any subsidy or aid based on your status as victim and you have been the subject of any protection measure provided for by law, you have the obligation to reimburse the subsidy or aid, in the cases of conviction for a false report of a crime or simulation of the crime, as well as the obligation to pay the costs incurred for the administration for its recognition, protection and support actions and for the services provided, without prejudice to any other civil or criminal liabilities that may apply.

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

Regardless of your role in the criminal proceedings, you can usually be present at the hearings, even if they are not public. You will only be obliged to attend to testify as a witness.

While you take part in the proceedings you can continue to benefit from the services of the Crime Victim Support Offices.

If you are a victim who has not appeared in the criminal proceedings, you will be informed of the date and place of the trial. Your main role will be to testify as a witness. So that you can be notified of the date and time of the trial, you must communicate any change in your address during the proceedings.

You can appear in the proceedings as private prosecutor before the indictment is prepared, i.e. before the start of the oral proceeding, except in the case of criminal proceedings against a minor. You will be represented by your lawyer, who will defend your case, and by your court representative, who will represent you formally in the proceedings.

If you are already private prosecutor, your lawyer will have access to the summary and the other case documents, and other rights, similar to those of the public prosecutor,:

  • to request the collection of more evidence;
  • to propose new witnesses or experts who will support your case;
  • to propose confrontations, etc.

In the event the accused is convicted, the court may order him/her to pay you the following costs: the cost of lawyers and court representatives, experts, certificates from public registers and notaries, etc.

As witness, you have the right to an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language, but you do not have the possibility of document translation. Despite the fact that it is generally difficult to avoid eye contact with the accused and court buildings do not usually have different waiting rooms for witnesses, if you have been a victim of sexual assault you can:

  • benefit from a screen in the courtroom, or
  • testify via video conference.

If you are going to testify and you are in danger, the president of the court can order a private hearing to protect morality, public order and yourself as victim and/or your family. As private prosecutor, you could request a private hearing.

If you are summoned to testify and the judge sees you are at serious risk or your freedom, property or family is at risk, he/she can take one of the following actions:

  • protect your identity, address, profession and workplace, not using this information in the proceedings;
  • prevent you from being seen in the court, establishing the court as address for notifications;
  • prevent your image from being recorded using any medium;
  • order police protection during and after the proceedings;
  • provide you with transport to the court in official cars;
  • at the court, place you in a waiting room guarded by the police;
  • in special circumstances, provide you with a new identity and financial aid to change location, residence and job.

If you are a minor making a statement, eye contact between you and the accused will be prevented using any technical medium possible. Confrontations are also restricted. If you have any conflict of interests with your legal representatives that does not make it possible to be confident that your interests will be adequately managed in the investigation or criminal proceedings, or the conflict is with one of your parents and the other parent is not able to adequately perform his/her duties to represent you or assist you, among other cases, the public prosecutor will ask for the judge or court to designate a guardian at litem for you, who will have the duty to represent you in the investigation and the criminal proceedings.

If you are a foreigner, you can have an interpreter free of charge, if you do not speak Spanish or the respective regional language. The courts have an interpreter service that will be coordinated with the Crime Victim Support Office.

What information will I receive during the trial?

You have the right – if you have made the relevant request – to receive information about the date, time and place of the trial and the content of the accusation against the offender, as well as to be notified of the following decisions:

  • the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings;
  • the final judgement in the proceedings;
  • decisions to imprison or release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody;
  • decisions adopting personal precautionary measures or amending those already agreed, where they are in place to ensure your safety;
  • decisions from any judicial or prison authority affecting subjects convicted for crimes committed using violence or intimidation and that pose a risk to your safety;
  • decisions that involve your participation as victim in the enforcement of the sentence and that are handed down in the prison environment, such as those affecting the classification of the convicted prisoner in a grade 3 open prison regime, prison benefits, short-term leave, conditional release, etc.

When requesting to be notified of the above decisions, you must designate an email address or, otherwise, a postal or home address, to which the communications and notifications will be sent by the authority.

Exceptionally, if you do not have an email address, they will be sent by ordinary mail to the address you have provided.

If you are a citizen residing outside the European Union and you do not have an email or postal address that communications can be sent to, they will be sent to the Spanish diplomatic or consular office in your country of residence for publication.

The notifications you may receive will include, at minimum, the operative provisions of the decision and its legal basis.

If as victim you have formally appeared in the proceedings, the decisions will be notified to your court representative and will also be communicated to you at the email address you have provided.

You may at any time express your desire not to be informed of the decisions mentioned above, and the request you made will then become inoperative.

If you have asked to be referred to a Crime Victim Support Office or you are receiving care through one of these Offices, you have the right to receive information on the contact details of the authority responsible for handling the procedure and the channels for communicating with this authority, as well as information on the date, time and place of the trial and the content of the accusation against the offender.

If you are a victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you have the right to be informed about the procedural situation of the aggressor and the precautionary measures taken, without having to ask for this. You may at any time express your desire not to receive the information.

Will I be able to access court files?

If you are already private prosecutor, your lawyer will have access to the summary and the other case documents.

Lawyers’ daily activities include accessing the legal information and documentation, particularly in cases where their client is not a party in the proceeding.

Pursuant to Spanish legislation, the parties appearing may be informed of the proceedings and participate in all the procedural formalities.

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

If you would like to appeal against the judgment in the event the accused is declared innocent, bear in mind that if you haven’t been party to the proceedings, you can’t appeal against the judgment.

If you have been party to the proceedings and you are private prosecutor, you can appeal as follows:

  • against the judgment within ten days of it being notified; there are various grounds for appeal and it is possible to review the evidence. This is an ordinary appeal.
  • Cassation appeal within five days of the judgment being notified; the grounds are violation of the law or the Spanish Constitution or formal grounds. This is an extraordinary appeal.

As civil party, you can only lodge an appeal in cassation regarding matters related to your compensation.

As regards possibilities for lodging other appeals, if you have first lodged an ordinary appeal, you could lodge a cassation appeal as a second appeal. The cassation appeal is decided by the Supreme Court.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with information about the appeals you can lodge against rulings you consider to be incompatible with your rights.

What are my rights after sentencing?

If you have made the relevant request, you have the right to be notified of the following decisions:

  • the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings;
  • the final judgment in the proceedings;
  • decisions to imprison or release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody;
  • decisions adopting personal precautionary measures or amending those already agreed, where their aim is to ensure your safety;
  • decisions from any judicial or prison authority affecting subjects convicted for crimes committed using violence or intimidation and that pose a risk to your safety;
  • decisions that involve your participation in the enforcement of the sentence and that are handed down for prison-related matters, as well as those affecting the classification of the convict in a Grade 3 open prison regime, prison benefits, short-term leave, conditional release, etc.

Your main rights during enforcement of the judgment are the right to information on the sentencing of the accused. In general, the information regarding their release from prison would be considered part of their privacy and could not be communicated to you.

Exceptionally, if you have been victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you will be provided with information on the procedural status of the accused and how they are serving their sentence, for as long as the protection order or restraining order remains in force.

If you were private prosecutor in the proceedings, you can take part in the suspension of the sentence of the accused. A prison sentence of less than two years can be suspended if there is no repeat offending within a given period of time. After this period, the sentence lapses. The court decides on the suspension of the sentence and you will be heard by the judge before its decision.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide information about the possibility you have as victim to participate in the prison sentence enforcement and will carry out whatever assistance activities are needed so you can exercise the rights recognised by law.

If you are a victim of terrorism, the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office will provide you with the information channels needed so you can find out everything related to the prison sentence enforcement up to the full serving of the sentences, especially in cases where benefits are granted or the convicts are released.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

If the judgment is enforced and it is necessary, you can continue to be protected, if the judge so decides. You can have police protection or, in exceptional cases, a new identity or financial aid to change place of residence or work.

For certain crimes, such as gender-based or domestic violence, you can ask for a protection order the temporary validity of which will be established by decision of the judicial authority.

The protection order may be requested directly from the judicial authority or public prosecutor, or from law enforcement officials, the Crime Victim Support Offices or social services or care institutions attached to the public administrations.

The protection order represents a comprehensive protection status that will include the civil and criminal precautionary measures set out by law and any other assistance and social protection measures established in the legal system.

The granting of a protection order will imply the duty to keep yourself informed on an ongoing basis regarding the procedural situation of the accused or suspect, as well as regarding the scope and validity of the precautionary measures taken. In particular, you will be informed at all times of the alleged aggressor’s prison situation. To that end, the protection order will be forwarded to the prison administration.

You can also be protected by certain penalties or security measures being imposed on the offender: restraining orders, deprivation of parental rights or guardianship, deprivation of the right to carry and use weapons, etc. Furthermore, in cases where the sentence is suspended before entering prison, the judge can ban the offender from going to certain places or from approaching you, oblige the offender to take part in specific educational programmes, etc.

As victim, you are entitled to:

a) ask for the behavioural measures or rules provided for by law and considered necessary to ensure your safety to be imposed on the parolee, where this person had been convicted for acts from which a situation danger may reasonably arise for you;

b) provide the judge or court with any information that is relevant to rule on the enforcement of the penalty imposed, the civil liabilities arising from the crime or the confiscation that was agreed.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will cooperate and coordinate with the bodies, institutions and services that may be involved in assisting victims: the judiciary, public prosecution service, law enforcement officials, especially in the case of vulnerable victims with a high risk of victimisation. Moreover, if you are a victim who requires special protection measures, they will assess your case to determine which protection, assistance and support measures should be provided, which may include the following:

  • the provision of psychological support or assistance to deal with the disorders caused by the crime, using the most appropriate psychological methods for your care;
  • accompaniment to trial;
  • information on the available psychosocial and care resources and referral to these services if you request this;
  • any special support measures that may be necessary if you are a victim with special protection needs;
  • referral to specialist support services.

For how long?

The protective measures of a judicial nature will be valid for the period of time established in the relevant decision from the judicial authority.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will monitor your situation as victim, especially if you are a vulnerable victim, throughout the entire criminal proceedings and for an appropriate period of time after they end, regardless of whether the offender’s identity and the outcome of proceedings are known.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

Your main rights during enforcement of the judgment are the right to information on the sentencing of the accused. In general, the information regarding their release from prison would be considered part of their privacy and could not be communicated to you.

Exceptionally, if you have been victim of a crime of gender-based violence, you will be provided with information on the procedural status of the accused and how they are serving their sentence, while the protection order or restraining order is in force, except where you express your desire not to receive any notification on the matter.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide information about the possibility you have as victim to participate in the prison sentence enforcement and will carry out whatever assistance activities are needed so you can exercise the rights recognised by law.

If you are a victim of terrorism, the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office will provide you with the information channels necessary for you to find out everything related to the prison sentence enforcement up to the time the sentences have been fully served, especially in cases where benefits are granted or the convicts are released.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

If you have made the relevant request, you have the right to be notified of the following decisions, among others:

  • decisions to imprison or release the offender, as well as the possible escape of the offender from custody;
  • decisions from any judicial or prison authority affecting subjects convicted for crimes committed using violence or intimidation and that pose a risk to your safety;
  • decisions that involve your participation in the enforcement of the sentence and that are handed down for prison-related matters, as well as those affecting the classification of the convict in a Grade 3 open prison regime, prison benefits, short-term leave, conditional release, etc.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide information about the possibility you have as victim to participate in the prison sentence enforcement and will carry out whatever assistance activities are needed so you can exercise the rights recognised by law.

If you are a victim of terrorism, the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office will provide you with the information channels necessary for you to find out everything related to the prison sentence enforcement up to the time the sentences have been fully served, especially in cases where benefits are granted or the convicts are released.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions?

As victim of the crime, you will be entitled to:

  • ask for the behavioural measures or rules provided for by law considered necessary to ensure your safety to be imposed on the parolee, where this person had been convicted for events from which a situation danger could reasonably arise for the victim;
  • provide the judge or court with any information that is relevant to rule on the enforcement of the sentence imposed, the civil liabilities arising from the crime or the confiscation that was agreed.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide information about the possibility you have as victim to participate in the prison sentence enforcement and will carry out whatever assistance activities are needed so you can exercise the rights recognised by law.

If you are a victim of terrorism, the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office will provide you with the information channels necessary for you to find out everything related to the prison sentence enforcement up to the time the sentences have been fully served, especially in cases where benefits are granted or the convicts are released.

For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

If you have asked to be notified of certain decisions handed down for prison-related matters, as well as those affecting the classification of the convict in a Grade 3 open prison regime, prison benefits, short-term leave, conditional release, etc., you can appeal against them even if you have not been party to the proceedings. You must make your desire to appeal known to the competent court clerk, without needing to be assisted by a lawyer to do so, within a maximum period of five days counted from the time at which you were notified of the decision and lodging the appeal within fifteen days from this notification.

In order to appeal the possible classification of the convict in a Grade 3 open prison regime, you must be victim of one of the following crimes:

  • homicide;
  • abortion;
  • injury;
  • crimes against freedom;
  • crimes of torture and against moral integrity;
  • crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity;
  • crimes of theft committed with violence or intimidation;
  • crimes of terrorism;
  • crimes of human trafficking.

Before the prison authority hands down any of the decisions stated above, the decision in question will be communicated to you so you may submit any arguments you deem appropriate, provided that you have made the relevant request to be notified of these decisions.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with any information you may need about the appeals you can lodge against rulings you consider to be incompatible with your rights.

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. independent lawsuit, civil claim, joint civil and criminal proceedings)

As private prosecutor, you can claim compensation for damages by means of a civil action within the same criminal proceedings or defer this claim until the criminal proceedings have ended. If the two actions are separate, the civil action must wait until the criminal proceedings have ended.

You can also only appear in the proceedings as civil party that will not have any capacity in the proceedings. If you do not appear as civil party to seek the compensation, the public prosecutor will claim the civil action on your behalf. If the court declares the accused not guilty or does not award you the compensation, you can always claim damages through a civil procedure.

The civil liability of the accused covers the restitution of the property, the making good of the damage and the compensation for damages, including those caused to your partner and children.

You can also obtain compensation from the State.

The Crime Victim Support Offices are the crime victim assistance authority in cross-border situations, in cases where the crime you have suffered was committed in a European Union Member State other than Spain and you are ordinarily resident in Spain. In cases of crimes of terrorism in cross-border situations, the Ministry of the Interior is the assistance authority, via the Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism.

In general, except for crimes of terrorism, the assistance authority will cooperate in initiating and handling the procedures for the award of aid by the European Union Member State where the crime was committed, so that you, as claimant, can access, from Spain, the compensation from the State in whose territory the crime was committed.

To this end, the Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you, as aid claimant, with the following information:

  • information about the possibilities of claiming financial aid or compensation, the procedures or forms required, including the way in which these must be completed, and the supporting documentation that may be necessary;
  • general guidance about how to fill out requests for additional information.

Moreover, as assistance authority, the Crime Victim Support Offices must do the following:

  • forward your claim and supporting documentation, as well as any documentation that may be required subsequently, where applicable, to the decision-making authority appointed by the State in whose territory the crime was committed;
  • cooperate with the decision-making authority where, in accordance with its national legislation, this authority decides to hear the claimant or any other person.

The decision-making authority is the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Directorate-General of Personnel Costs and State Pensions when the claim for the legally established State aid is dealt with via the assistance authority of the State where the claimant is ordinarily resident.

The decision-making authority must communicate the following both to you as aid claimant as well as to the assistance authority:

  • receipt of the State aid claim, the body that opens the proceedings, the timeframe for handing down a decision and, if possible, the anticipated date when the decision will be taken;
  • the decision closing the proceedings.

For crimes of terrorism, the Ministry of the Interior (Directorate-General for the Support of Terrorism Victims) will act as the assistance authority in cases in which the place where the crime is committed is a European Union Member State other than Spain and you as aid claimant are ordinarily resident in Spain, so that you can access, from Spain, the appropriate compensation, where applicable, from the State in whose territory the crime was committed. The actions that must be undertaken by the Directorate-General of Support for Victims as the assistance or decision-making authority are equivalent to those pertaining to the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Directorate-General of Personnel Costs and State Pensions.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

The State will pay all or part of the aid where the offender has been declared partially insolvent.

The State will be subrogated, up to the full amount of the provisional or final aid you have been granted as victim or beneficiary, to your rights against the party civilly liable for the crime.

The State may bring an action for recovery against the party civilly liable for the criminal act to demand the full or partial reimbursement of the aid granted.

This action will be carried out, where appropriate, by means of the administrative recovery procedure and will apply in the following cases, among others:

  • where the final judicial decision finds that no crime has been committed;
  • where after payment, both you as victim as well as your beneficiaries obtained, on any grounds, full or partial compensation for the damages suffered in the three years following the granting of the aid;
  • where the aid was obtained based on the provision of false or deliberately incomplete information or by any other fraudulent means, as well as the deliberate omission of circumstances that would lead to the refusal or reduction of the aid claimed;
  • where the compensation awarded in the judgement is less than the provisional aid.

This action will be brought by the appearance of the State in the criminal or civil proceedings being conducted, without prejudice to the civil action that may be brought by the public prosecutor.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

The State will pay all or part of the aid where the person convicted of the crime has been declared partially insolvent.

Provisional aid may be granted before the final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings is handed down, so long as the precarious economic situation in which you were left as victim or beneficiary has been demonstrated.

Provisional aid may be claimed once you have reported the events to the competent authorities or where criminal proceedings are conducted ex officio based on these events.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

You can obtain compensation from the State.

In Spain, there is a system of aid for victims of intentional and violent crimes, committed in Spain, resulting in death, serious bodily injury or serious damage to physical or mental health. Aid is also awarded to victims of crimes against sexual freedom, even when these crimes are committed without violence.

In general, you can access the legally established financial aid if, at the time the crime is committed, you are Spanish or a national of any other European Union Member State, or, if neither of the above applies to you, you are ordinarily resident in Spain or a national of another State that grants similar aid to Spanish nationals in its territory.

In the event of death, the above-mentioned nationality or residence requirements must be met by the beneficiaries, not the deceased person.

In the event of serious bodily injury or serious damage to physical or mental health, the direct victims, i.e. those who suffered the injuries or damages, will be the beneficiaries.

In the event of death, the beneficiaries are the indirect victims, who would be the following:

  • The spouse of the deceased person, if they were not legally separated, or the person who lived with the deceased on a permanent basis in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years before the death, unless they had children together, in which case mere cohabitation will suffice. The children of the persons mentioned are also included, even if they were not the children of the deceased person, so long as they were financially dependent on that person and there was cohabitation.

Beneficiaries will not in any case include anyone convicted for intentional homicide in any of its forms, where the deceased was their spouse or the person with whom they were or had been in a stable relationship akin to marriage.

  • The child of the deceased person, who was dependent on that person and there was cohabitation, assuming that children who are underage or disabled adults are financially dependent.
  • The parent of the deceased person, who was financially dependent on that person, so long as there is no one in the above situations.
  • The parents of a minor who dies as a direct consequence of the crime are also considered indirect victims for the purposes of the financial aid established by Spanish law.

The injuries that entitle victims to receive financial aid are those that damage bodily integrity or physical or mental health and that temporarily disable, for longer than six months, or permanently disable, with a degree of disability of at least 33 %, the person who suffered them.

As a general rule, the granting of aid is conditional on the handing down of a final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings. Taking into account the timeframes for deciding on criminal cases, before a final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings is handed down, the law provides for the possibility of granting provisional aid, taking into consideration the precarious economic situation of the victim of the crime or their beneficiaries. Provisional aid may be claimed once the victim has reported the events to the competent authorities or when the criminal proceedings have been initiated by the competent bodies without the need for a report.

The amount of aid may not in any case exceed the compensation set in the judgement.

In the event of the death of a minor or disabled person as a direct consequence of the crime, the parents or guardians of the minor will be entitled only to aid consisting of compensation for the funeral expenses they have actually paid up to the legally established limit.

In cases of crimes against sexual freedom that cause the victim damages to his/her mental health, the amount of aid will cover the costs of the therapeutic treatment freely chosen by the victim, with a maximum established by law.

In general, the time limit for claiming the aid is one year counted from when the crime was committed. This time limit will be suspended when the criminal proceedings begin, and will resume when the final judicial decision has been handed down and notified to the victim.

The receipt of aid is incompatible with the following:

  • compensation established by means of the judgement. Nonetheless, all or part of the aid will be paid where the offender has been declared partially insolvent;
  • compensation or aid from private insurance, as well as with the Social Security subsidy that might apply due to the victim’s temporary disability. Nonetheless, the aid would be paid to the beneficiary of private insurance where the amount of the compensation to be received under this insurance was lower than the amount established in the judgement;
  • the receipt of this aid will not in any case be compatible with the compensation for damages to victims of armed groups and terrorists.

The receipt of aid is compatible with the following:

  • in cases of permanent disability or death of the victim, with the receipt of any State pension the beneficiary is entitled to receive;
  • the social assistance provided for in Article 27 of Organic Law 1/2004 of 28 December 2004 on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender-Based Violence (Ley Orgánica 1/2004 de 28 de diciembre, de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género).

The aid for permanent disability will be incompatible with the aid for temporary disability.

The competence to process and decide on claims for the legally established State aid lies with the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Directorate-General of Personnel Costs and State Pensions, for victims of any crime except for victims of terrorism, in which case the Ministry of the Interior (Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism) will be competent.

If you are a victim of terrorism, there is a series of State aid intended for victims of terrorism to compensate them for the damages caused by these kinds of crimes, provided there is a full connection between the terrorist act and the damages suffered.

The following are damages eligible for compensation:

  • bodily injuries, both physical and mental, as well as expenses for medical treatment, prostheses and surgery.

These expenses will be paid to the person affected only in the event they are not fully or partially covered by a public or private welfare system;

  • material damages caused to the homes of natural persons or those occurring in commercial and industrial establishments, headquarters of political parties, trade unions and social organisations;
  • the costs of provisional accommodation while repair work is carried out on the ordinary residences of natural persons;
  • damages caused to private vehicles, as well as those suffered by vehicles used for ground transport of people or goods, except publicly-owned vehicles.

Compensation for the damages indicated, except for bodily injuries, will be subsidiary to that established for the same cases by any other public body or those arising from insurance agreements. In these cases, any amounts that might result from the difference between what was paid by these public administrations or insurance entities and the official valuation will be compensated.

The amount of compensation will be determined according to the damage produced (severity of the injuries and type of disability they cause, death, etc.).

Other aid:

  • for study: where a terrorist act results in personal injuries of particular significance to a student, their parents or guardians, or these injuries render them unfit for the exercise of their regular profession;
  • immediate psychological assistance and counselling, both for victims as well as for family members;
  • extraordinary aid to mitigate, exceptionally, situations of personal or family need of the victims, who are not covered or are covered in a markedly insufficient way by ordinary aid.

Aid beneficiaries:

  • if there are injuries, the injured persons;
  • if there was death:
    • the spouse of the deceased person;
    • the unmarried partner with whom the deceased had cohabited for at least two years;
    • the unmarried partner with whom the deceased had children;
    • the parents of the deceased person if they were financially dependent on that person. In the absence of parents and in this order, the grandchildren, siblings and grandparents of the deceased person who were financially dependent on that person;
    • if there are none of the above persons, the children and, in their absence, the parents who were not financially dependent on the deceased person.

In general, the time limit for submitting claims for compensation for personal or material damages will be one year, counted from the date on which the damages occurred.

The National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Assistance Office (Oficina de Información y Asistencia a Víctimas del Terrorismo de la Audiencia Nacional), in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism, will help you as a victim of terrorism through the process of claiming compensation: obtaining certificates of the final judgements, of orders not to enforce civil liabilities and other documents required to process the aid.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

The final judgement in the criminal proceedings, which cannot be appealed, must prove that the death, bodily injuries and serious damage to physical or mental health constitute an intentional and violent crime and, consequently, the judgement will have to determine the appropriate compensation.

To submit the claim for financial aid, you must attach to the claim a copy of the final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings, whether it is a judgement, default judgement or decision to close the case due to death of the offender, or decision to dismiss the case.

The amount of aid granted may not in any case exceed the compensation set in the judgement.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

Provisional aid may be granted before the final judicial decision ending the criminal proceedings is handed down, so long as evidence is provided of the precarious economic situation in which you as the victim or your beneficiaries have been left.

Provisional aid may be claimed once you have reported the events to the competent authorities or where criminal proceedings are conducted ex officio based on these events.

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime. Who do I contact for support and assistance?

If you are a victim of crime, you can go to a Crime Victim Support Office (Oficinas de Asistencia a las Víctimas del delito).

Crime Victim Support Offices are a free, public multidisciplinary service to address victims’ needs, run by the Ministry of Justice.

There are Offices in all the Link opens in new windowautonomous communities, in nearly all provincial capitals as well as other cities.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with comprehensive, coordinated and specialist support as a victim of crime, meeting your specific legal, psychological and social needs.

If you are a victim of terrorism, you can contact the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office (Oficina de Información y Asistencia a Víctimas del Terrorismo de la Audiencia Nacional), although you may go to the Crime Victim Support Office in your province if you wish. The Crime Victim Support Office will then coordinate with the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office.

The care and support offered by Crime Victim Support Offices is provided in a series of phases:

  • Reception and orientation phase: the orientation phase is when the Office provides you with comprehensive information about the actions you must take, the issues you have to deal with and the possible consequences. This phase generally takes place through an interview, either face-to-face or over the phone, where you will explain your problems and needs. Based on your explanation, you will be given guidance, the possibility of interventions from other resources will be assessed and referrals will be made, if necessary.
  • Information phase: as a victim, starting from the first contact with the authorities and officials, even before filing a complaint, you have the right to receive information that fits your personal circumstances and conditions and also the nature of the crime you have experienced and the damages suffered. This information concerns certain aspects such as:
  • How you can make a complaint and the procedure for filing it.
  • The specialist services and psychosocial and care resources available, regardless of whether a complaint is filed, and how to access them.
  • The care and support measures (medical, psychological or material) available and the procedure for obtaining them, including, when appropriate, information concerning the possibilities of obtaining alternative accommodation.
  • How you can obtain advice and legal defence and, where appropriate, the conditions under which it may be obtained free of charge.
  • Accompaniment for you, throughout the proceedings, to the trial, if you require this, and/or to the different criminal authorities.
  • Possibility for you to request protection measures and, where appropriate, the procedure for doing so.
  • Advice on economic rights related to the proceedings, particularly regarding the aid and compensation to which you may be entitled based on the damages caused by the crime and, where appropriate, which procedure should be used to claim them.
  • The procedure you must follow to exercise your rights as a victim of crime if you live outside Spain.
  • The contact details of the authority responsible for handling your proceedings and the channels for communicating with them, and information on the date, time and location of the trial as well as the content of the accusation against the offender.
  • The restorative justice services (e.g. mediation) available, in cases where this is legally possible.
  • The cases in which you can be reimbursed for legal expenses and, where appropriate, the applicable procedure for claiming them, etc.
  • Intervention phase: the intervention by the Crime Victim Support Offices takes place in different areas:
  • Legal interventions: the Offices will provide you with the legal assistance you need and, specifically, they will give you information about the type of assistance you can receive in the context of judicial proceedings, the rights you can exercise as part of the proceedings, the way and the conditions in which you can access legal advice and the types of services or organisations you can contact for support.

The legal assistance will in all cases be general regarding the way in which the proceedings are carried out and the way to exercise different rights, as your lawyer is responsible for the guidance and legal aid in each case.

  • Medical and psychological interventions: the psychological care offered by the Offices consists in assessing and treating your situation to reduce the crisis caused by the crime, to cope with the judicial proceedings resulting from the crime and accompaniment throughout the proceedings and reinforcement of your strategies and abilities, enabling help from your surroundings.

The Offices will create a psychological support plan in the event of you being a particularly vulnerable victim or in need of special protection.

  • Economic interventions: regarding economic aid to which you are entitled if you have been the victim of a violent crime or crime against sexual freedom, the Offices mainly play an informational role and can assist with handling claims.
  • Social and care interventions: in this area, the Offices will be coordinated in the care they provide you and, where appropriate, they will refer you to the social services, care institutions or organisations available to ensure safe accommodation, immediate medical care and any financial aid you might be entitled to, with particular attention given to needs arising from situations of invalidity, hospitalisation, death and those caused by a possible situation of vulnerability.
  • Monitoring phase: the Offices will monitor your case, especially if you are a vulnerable victim, throughout the entire criminal process and for an appropriate period of time after the process ends. In this phase, the Offices will analyse your legal, medical and psychological, social and care and economic situation following the crime at different periods. The appropriate time for monitoring will be determined based on your situation.

If you are a victim of terrorism, the main functions of the National High Court’s Terrorism Victim Information and Support Office are the following:

  • to provide you with information on the status of the judicial proceedings that may affect you based on the crime committed;
  • to advise you on everything related to the criminal and administrative proceedings that may affect you;
  • to offer you personal accompaniment to the trials held regarding the terrorist acts that may affect you;
  • to provide you with emotional and therapeutic support, without prejudice to the competencies of the Ministry of the Interior;
  • to promote the protection of your safety and privacy as victim of the crime in your participation in the judicial proceedings;
  • to inform you about the main compensations for terrorism victims, in all cases referring you to the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism;
  • to notify you of everything related to the enforcement of the prison sentence, until the sentence has been served in full, particularly in cases where the convicts have been granted benefits or released.

For victims of terrorism, the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism will act as a one-stop shop for any proceedings that may be initiated by the people and families affected by terrorist action before the Central State Administration, referring any requests made to the competent body and assuming the relationship with the person concerned.

Furthermore, this Directorate-General will collaborate with the competent bodies of the Central State Administration and the other public administrations concerning assistance and support for victims of terrorism to ensure comprehensive protection for victims.

The Directorate-General for the Support of Victims of Terrorism will be responsible for handling, managing and drafting decisions on aid and compensation for those affected by crimes of terrorism.

Victim support hotline

During the reception or orientation phase, you may be attended in person or via telephone at the Crime Victim Support Offices.

For certain crimes like gender-based violence, in Spain there are telephone services for assistance and guidance, e.g. the 016 Telephone Service for Information and Legal Advice concerning Gender-Based Violence (Servicio telefónico de información y asesoramiento jurídico en materia de violencia de género).

In the case of particularly vulnerable victims, such as minors, there are specific services such as the ANAR (Aid for At-Risk Children and Adolescents) Foundation Hotline (Servicio de atención telefónica de la Fundación ANAR)), aimed at children and young people, adults and relatives of minors and relatives in the case of missing minors.

The 016 Telephone Service for Information and Legal Advice concerning Gender-Based Violence provides free, professional assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The data of persons who use this service are guaranteed to remain confidential at all times.

Assistance is offered in 51 languages. Specifically, 24-hour assistance is offered in Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque, English and French, and via a tele-translation service for calls in German, Portuguese, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, Romanian and Bulgarian. Assistance in the other languages is offered via a tele-translation service.

The accessibility of the service for people with hearing and/or speech impairments is guaranteed via the following means:

  • text telephone (TTY) on 900 116 016;
  • Telesor service via the Telesor website (Link opens in new windowhttps://www.telesor.es/). An Internet connection is required in this case;
  • mobile telephone or PDA. In both cases it is necessary to install a free application by following the steps indicated on the Telesor website.

This service offers assistance for anyone with queries related to specific cases of gender-based violence: female victims of gender-based violence, people who are close to a female victim of gender-based violence (relatives, friends, neighbours, etc.), professionals attending to a female victim of gender-based violence or who are aware of a situation of this kind of violence, etc.

The information provided refers to the resources and rights available to you as victim of this kind of crime, concerning employment, social services, financial support and information, assistance, reception and legal advice resources.

In the event of receiving an emergency call, it is immediately diverted to the 112 emergency number of the respective autonomous community.

If you are an underage victim of gender-based violence, any calls you make to the 016 Service will be diverted to the ANAR Hotline for Aid for Children and Adolescents (900 20 20 10).

The ANAR (Aid for At-Risk Children and Adolescents) Foundation Hotline (900 20 20 10) is a free, confidential and anonymous service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which mainly consists of three aid lines:

  • The ANAR Hotline for Aid for Children and Adolescents, the main aim of which is to offer child or adolescent callers the necessary support and guidance when they have problems or are in a situation of risk.
  • The ANAR Hotline for Adults and Families, aimed at adults who need guidance on issues related to minors.
  • The ANAR 116 000 Hotline for cases of missing minors (the European Union’s harmonised number of social value for dealing with these cases).

This service will divert the calls you make to the 016 Service if you are an adult female and victim of gender-based violence or an adult who is aware of a case of this kind of violence.

Is victim support free?

Yes. Access to crime victim care and support services, such as the Crime Victim Support Offices, is free and confidential; it is not necessary to file a complaint first.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

You can go to the Crime Victim Support Offices found in all the Link opens in new windowautonomous communities, in nearly every provincial capital and even in other cities.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with comprehensive, coordinated and specialist victim support as a victim of crime, meeting your specific legal, psychological and social needs.

In particular, the Crime Victim Support Offices will provide you with information about the specialist services and psychosocial and care resources available, regardless of whether you file a complaint, and about how to access these services.

They will also provide you with information about the care and support measures (medical, psychological or material) available and the procedure for obtaining them, including, where needed, information concerning the possibilities of obtaining alternative accommodation.

In addition, they will advise you about how you can make a complaint and the procedure for filing it, as well as the possibility of obtaining legal advice and defence and, where appropriate, the conditions under which you may obtain these free of charge.

The Crime Victim Support Offices will be able to refer you to specialist legal, psychological and social services, depending on your needs, such as e.g. municipal, social welfare, health, education and employment services; associations, foundations and other non-profit entities; psychosocial services from the Justice Administration; and, in the event of you being a victim of gender-based violence, to the Units for Coordination against Violence against Women (Unidades de Coordinación contra la Violencia sobre la Mujer) and Women Units (Unidades sobre la Mujer) in each autonomous community and province.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can offer support to victims of specific crimes by means of establishing personalised pathways according to each victim’s needs and characteristics. The assistance function mainly includes legal advice, information about the different resources and aid available and psychological and emotional support.

Last update: 12/03/2019

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - France

You will be considered a victim of a crime if you have suffered harm (e.g. you have been injured or your personal property has been damaged or stolen, etc.) as a result of an incident which constitutes an offence according to national law. According to the law, you have certain individual rights as a victim of a crime before, during and after the proceedings.

In France, criminal proceedings consist of an inquiry and a trial. There are two types of inquiry according to the type of crime committed: a police inquiry conducted by criminal police officers under the authority of the public prosecutor and a judicial inquiry (investigation) conducted under the authority of the investigating magistrate by the criminal police officers or by the investigating magistrate him/herself.

Once the inquiry is finished, the case may be closed or referred back to court for trial, depending on the evidence gathered. In the latter case, the court will examine the evidence gathered and decide whether the alleged perpetrator is guilty or not. If the alleged perpetrator is found guilty, the court will impose a sentence on him/her. If not, the alleged offender is declared not guilty and released or acquitted.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

If the crime is not reported and is not brought to the attention of the judicial authorities or the police or gendarmerie, you will not be given any information, since the authorities will be unaware of the crime.

If the crime is brought to the attention of the judicial authorities or the police or gendarmerie by any means (other than a complaint by you as the victim), you will be summoned to give details of the harm you have suffered and the circumstances of the crime, and you will be informed of your rights at that point.

If you report the crime to the police or gendarmerie or the judicial authorities yourself, you will likewise be interviewed as soon as the facts are reported and you will be informed of your rights.

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

If you are a French national, you may file a complaint at any police station or any gendarmerie unit located in France. Your complaint will be handled in France if the French authorities have jurisdiction or referred to the relevant authorities of the State in which the crime took place.

If you are a foreign national who has been a victim of a crime committed in France, you may lodge a complaint at any police station or any gendarmerie unit in France. During the hearing or filing of the complaint, you may be assisted by an interpreter. You will be informed of the outcome by any appropriate means, and your rights will be protected in the same way as the rights of French nationals, as the law lays down the same rules on informing victims and protecting their rights, with no distinction on grounds of nationality.

You are entitled to legal aid if you are a national of a Member State of the European Union or of a State that has signed an international agreement with France.

Lastly, victims who file a complaint or testify against someone for procuring or human trafficking are entitled to obtain provisional authorisation to stay in France, entitling them to work, unless their presence constitutes a threat to public order.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

When you report a crime, your contact details are taken so that you can be contacted during the investigation. You are also informed of your rights and the ways in which you can exercise them.

Information for the victim on the progress of the investigation

You can ask the police or gendarmerie, the prosecutor or the investigating judge (if the case is referred) about the progress of the investigation affecting you.

In the case of a crime, and for certain offences, if you are a civil party, you are informed every six months by the investigating judge of the progress of the proceedings.

Information for the victim on the outcome of an investigation

When the investigation is over, you are informed of the decision taken: dismissal, alternative to prosecution, summoning of the defendant to court. If a trial is to take place, you are informed of the charges filed against the suspect, the date and place of the hearing.

Information for the victim when a case is referred to an investigating judge

When a judicial inquiry is opened, the investigation is entrusted by the public prosecutor to an investigating judge. The investigating judge must inform you that a judicial investigation has been opened, that you have the right to be a civil party and what the procedures are for exercising that right. If you are a minor, this information is given to your legal representatives.

In the notice to the victim, the investigating judge will also inform you that you have the right, if you are a civil party, to be assisted by a lawyer of your choice or appointed at your request by the president of the bar association, stating that the costs will be your responsibility unless you have access to legal aid (see conditions) or legal protection insurance.

Information for the victim on the circumstances of the suspect

You are not necessarily informed whether the alleged perpetrator is being held on remand, or has been released from prison.

On the other hand, you are always informed about the pre-trial release under judicial supervision of the alleged offender if a restraining order has been put in place to protect you.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

If you do not speak or understand enough French, an interpreter is requested by the police or gendarmerie unit where you report the crime. The interpreter will be present during your hearings, but also during any interviews that you may have with a lawyer, as well as during the trial.

During the investigation, you may request a translation of the essential parts of the file from the judge in charge of the case. This translation will be free if it concerns important documents, but will be subject to payment if it relates to other documents.

Some documents on the rights of victims have already been translated into the most common languages ​and so are given to you by the police or gendarmes.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)

If you have a disability restricting your communication, you will be assisted by an interpreter requested by the investigating officers or the judges. The interpreter will accompany you during the hearings, interviews with a lawyer, or during the trial.

If you are unable to read, documents will be read to you.

If you are a minor, the hearing will be geared to your age and level of maturity, and will be carried out by specially trained interviewers, sometimes accompanied by a psychologist. Whenever possible, when more than one hearing is required, it will be the same investigator that interviews you.

Specific rooms exist in some police stations to create a child-friendly environment and to make the hearing less formal.

At a hearing, you may always ask to be accompanied by an adult of your choice.

Finally, if the investigation concerns serious offences, and in particular for all crimes of a sexual nature, your hearings will be filmed, or at least recorded.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Victim support is provided by victim support associations. The purpose of these associations is to provide guidance, socio-legal assistance or psychological support to all victims of crime, whether or not they are taking part in criminal proceedings.

The associations run the victim support offices at each regional court, to provide assistance and support to victims affected by ongoing proceedings.

In addition, specialised associations can provide appropriate support to the victims of specific crimes (for example, domestic violence).

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

You will be informed by any appropriate means of your right to be assisted by a service belonging to a public authority or by a victim support association whose contact details will be given to you. The law does not provide for police or gendarmerie services to contact victim support associations directly, but when social welfare officers (social workers or psychologists) are present on the premises, either because they have been asked to attend or because they have an on-call office, they can assist you with the process.

Each Departmental Directorate of Public Security has a departmental victim support officer in place. Their job is to maintain contacts with the associations, to improve the way victims are received, to centralise information of use to victims, and to keep track of the progress of criminal proceedings in order to provide information on the progress of investigations.

Each departmental gendarmerie has a ‘prevention/partnership/contact’ victim support officer.

Whenever a complaint is lodged against X for serious crimes, a victim support form is automatically handed over to the complainant by the police officer, to inform him or her of what the National Institute for Victim Support and Mediation (INAVEM) does and to provide contact details of victim support associations or social services.

Subsequently, the public prosecutor can refer a crime victim directly to a victim support association.

In the case of an accident involving a large number of people (mass accident or act of terrorism), victim support associations may access the list of victims and contact them directly.

How is my privacy protected?

During an investigation, you have the right, with the authorisation of the public prosecutor, not to reveal your private address and to declare the address of the gendarmerie brigade or police station, or with their express consent, the address of a third party.

Finally, you can request a non-public trial, which the judges cannot refuse if you have suffered rape, torture, or acts of cruelty accompanied by sexual assault. In other cases, the trial will be private only if you, or another civil party, do not object.

In any event, no mention of your identity may appear in the media, unless you have given authorisation.

In addition, the services provided by victim support associations and the data they collect are completely confidential.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

It is not necessary to file a complaint to benefit from the support of a victim support association.

Personal protection if I’m in danger

What types of protection are available?

If you have experienced domestic violence, the abuser may be forced to leave the family home, be prevented from going to certain locations, or be required to undergo medical or psychological treatment.

If you have suffered violence at the hands of your (ex)-spouse or (ex)-cohabitant and in the event of a serious threat to you, the public prosecutor can assign you a teleprotection device (SOS telephone). A victim of domestic violence may also apply to the family court for a restraining order, which places certain restrictions on the offender where there is good reason to believe that the alleged violence has been committed and that the victim is in danger.

The court may also protect you and your family against possible threats or pressure from the alleged offender by taking steps to prevent any contact, such as pre-trial detention, judicial supervision, or other judicial restrictions.

Who can offer me protection?

Victim protection is the responsibility of the judicial authority, which takes into account the risks and needs of victims to order certain decisions, such as a contact ban or a prohibition on going to certain places, such as the victim’s home. Decisions imposing these prohibitions are forwarded to police stations and gendarmerie brigades who are then responsible for ensuring that they are complied with. If the person who has been accused or found guilty breaches the ban, they may be arrested, as the breach may be grounds for imprisonment or being charged with a new offence.

If you have been given a special protection device (SOS telephone), you can easily contact a call service, which immediately warns the nearest police or gendarmerie service so that they can be deployed to assist you when you are in danger.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

The officer of the criminal investigation police who conducts your hearing is responsible for collecting the initial information for a personalised assessment of your situation and your protection needs. The officer transmits this information to the judicial authority in charge of the proceedings, who decides, if it deems it appropriate, to have an in-depth evaluation carried out by a victim support association. One of the purposes of this personalised assessment is to determine the risk of intimidation or retaliation by the offender.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during the investigation and trial)?

The evaluation described above is also intended to determine the risk of secondary victimisation due to your participation in the criminal proceedings.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

Particularly vulnerable victims are given an assessment and support from a victim support association.

In addition, various protection measures are provided depending on the victim’s needs, such as:

  • limiting the number of hearings and medical examinations to those strictly necessary for the investigation;
  • the option of being interviewed by an investigator of the same sex, in a case of sexual violence or gender-based violence;
  • being interviewed in suitable premises, by trained investigators and, as far as possible, by the same investigators at each hearing.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

A victim who is a minor not only has the same rights as adults, but also enjoys specific rights related to his or her age. Therefore, when the parents (or the legal representatives) are not in a position to ensure the protection of the interests of a minor, the judicial authority designates an ad-hoc administrator (a relative of the child or an authorised person) who is responsible for representing the minor and exercising his or her rights.

A lawyer is also automatically appointed to defend the child’s interests, and must be present at each hearing of the minor.

For certain crimes, in particular of a sexual nature, the minor may be the subject of a medical or psychological examination, during the investigation stage, to assess the nature and extent of the harm suffered and to establish whether the child needs appropriate treatment or care. Interviews of a minor who is a victim of certain offences, especially those of a sexual nature, are mandatorily filmed, in order to avoid interviewing the minor on multiple occasions.

And finally, for each hearing, whatever the nature of the offences suffered, the minor may be accompanied by the person of his or her choice (a close family member, a legal representative, doctor, or psychologist).

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

A person who is not a direct victim of a criminal offence may none the less be considered an indirect victim, and may enjoy certain rights.

An indirect victim who considers that he or she has suffered harm, even if it is non-material, may become a civil party at the investigation stage, or when the case is before the investigating judge, or during the hearing, if an alleged perpetrator is tried before a court of law.

On the other hand, unlike direct victims of a crime, indirect victims will not necessarily be summoned or informed of the hearings if they have not made a prior request to that effect.

Finally, the victim will have to specify the nature of the harm suffered, so that the judge can determine whether his or her civil party status can be accepted, that is to say considered legitimate.

My family member was a victim of a crime – what are my rights?

A person who is not a direct victim of a criminal offence may none the less be considered an indirect victim, and may enjoy certain rights.

An indirect victim who considers that he or she has suffered harm, even if it is non-material, may become a civil party at the investigation stage, or when the case is before the investigating judge, or during the hearing, if an alleged perpetrator is tried before a court of law.

On the other hand, unlike direct victims of a crime, indirect victims will not necessarily be summoned or informed of the hearings if they have not made a prior request to that effect.

Finally, the victim will have to specify the nature of the harm suffered, so that the judge can determine whether his or her civil party status can be accepted, that is to say considered legitimate.

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

Mediation is a judicial measure that can be implemented if it is likely to provide reparation for the harm done to a victim, to put an end to the disturbance resulting from the offence or to contribute to the rehabilitation of the perpetrator.

Mediation may be decided upon by the public prosecutor with the consent of the victim, or at the request of the victim.

When violence has been committed by the spouse or former spouse of a victim, a civil partner or former civil partner, cohabitant or former cohabitant, mediation is carried out only if the victim has expressly requested it. In this case, the perpetrator of the violence will also be given a caution.

If further violence is committed by the spouse or former spouse of a victim, a civil partner or former civil partner, cohabitant or former cohabitant after mediation, no further recourse to mediation is possible.

Mediation, which can be entrusted to a criminal investigation officer, a delegate of the prosecutor or to a mediator, consists of putting the victim in contact with the perpetrator, while guaranteeing the safety of the victim, who must consent to the principle and means of implementation. The victim may not be confronted with the perpetrator against his or her will, nor under any circumstances be left alone with him or her.

In addition, this measure is not used if it appears that bringing the perpetrator and victim into contact will put the victim in danger.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

All French legislation can be found on the Link opens in new windowwebsite. The rights of victims are listed in the Criminal Procedure Code, notably in Articles 10-2 to 10-5 and D1-2 to D1-12.

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

You can file a complaint with the police or gendarmerie, which will forward it to the public prosecutor of the place where the crime was committed or the place of residence or arrest of the perpetrator.

You can also approach the public prosecutor directly, by a simple letter, explaining the harm you have suffered, giving the dates and places of the offences, and specifying your name and address.

Anyone who is not a victim may also report a crime under the same conditions.

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

Information for the victim on the progress of the investigation

A victim may ask the police or gendarmerie, the prosecutor or the investigating judge (if the case is referred), about the progress of the investigation affecting him or her.

In the case of a crime, and for certain offences, a victim who is a civil party to the proceedings will receive a progress report from the investigating judge every six months

Information for the victim on the outcome of an investigation

When the investigation is over, the victim is informed of the decision taken: dismissal, an alternative to prosecution, opening of a judicial inquiry, summoning of the defendant in court. If a trial is to take place, the victim is informed of the crimes filed against the suspect and of the date and place of the hearing.

Information for the complainant

Anyone who has reported a crime is informed by the public prosecutor of the follow-up.

Am I entitled to legal aid (during the investigation or trial)? What are the conditions?

If you do not have a lawyer, you can get information about your rights and obligations by going to the courts, the law centres (maisons de la justice et du droit), the legal information desks (points d’accès au droit), town halls and community centres in which victim support associations hold drop-in sessions. You can also benefit from free legal advice, regardless of your age, nationality or financial means, provided by legal professionals, including lawyers, in these locations.

You can benefit from legal aid if you meet the following conditions:

  • you are a French national or a national of a Member State of the European Union or a State that has signed an international convention with France, or if you are normally resident in France and are in the country legally (this condition is not applied if you are a minor or a civil party);
  • your financial resources [1] do not exceed a maximum threshold, as determined by the Finance Act. This condition is not applied if you are the victim of a particularly serious crime (intentional attempt on your life, torture or acts of cruelty, act of terrorism, rape, etc.), if you benefit from the active solidarity income (RSA) or the solidarity allowance for the elderly and have no other sources of income, or if your situation appears particularly noteworthy in view of the subject of the dispute or the likely costs of the proceedings.

Legal aid covers:

  • lawyer's fees;
  • bailiff's charges, if any;
  • charges for expert opinions, etc.;
  • any deposit that you may have to pay.

Legal aid may be total or partial. It is important to apply for legal aid from the beginning of the proceedings because costs incurred prior to the application will not be reimbursed.

You can obtain information and the application form for legal aid from your lawyer, in a law centre, at a town hall, at the court of your place of residence or at the court dealing with the case. The form can also be downloaded from the following link: Link opens in new windowhttps://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R1444.



[1] Financial resources conditions for obtaining legal aid:
In order to assess your legal aid needs, the authorities take into consideration the resources you received between 1 January and 31 December of the year prior to your application. These resources include income of all kinds, excluding family benefits and certain social benefits. Also taken into account are the resources of your spouse, partner, dependent child(ren) and all persons who usually live under your roof.

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

Costs related to particular proceedings may, subject to certain conditions, be covered by your legal protection insurance if this covers some or all of the legal fees, bailiff charges, costs of proceedings or transactions or expert opinion fees.

Failing this, when sentence is pronounced, and during the settlement of damages by the court, such expenses are charged to the convicted party at your request.

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

If the public prosecutor decides to dismiss the case at the end of the investigation, you may lodge an appeal by applying to the prosecutor general of the court of appeal in the jurisdiction where the court that dismissed the case is located.

If the prosecutor general believes that legal proceedings are necessary, he or she can order the prosecutor to bring a prosecution. If the prosecutor general considers your claim unjustified, you will be informed that no further action will be taken on your appeal.

In addition, if a complaint filed with the public prosecutor has been dismissed, or if a period of three months has elapsed since this complaint, you may file a complaint directly with the competent investigating judge, by becoming a civil party.

Finally, you may have the alleged perpetrator directly summoned before the court by asking a bailiff to hand him or her a summons, in which case you will have to pay a deposit, the value of which is set by the court according to your financial resources.

Can I be involved in the trial?

You are notified of the trial date and can attend the hearing. In some cases, the trial is not public, and you will be able to remain in the room only for the duration of your testimony. You will not be allowed to attend the entire trial if it is not public (behind closed doors), unless you are a civil party to the proceedings.

You have the unconditional right to be assisted throughout the trial by a victim support association. The members of these associations can help you at the time of your application to become a civil party, they can be present during various hearings and can help you to understand the acts and decisions of the magistrates.

An interpreter will be called for you if you have difficulty understanding or expressing yourself in French.

At the hearing, the civil party can call witnesses or object to certain witnesses being heard.

The victim or a civil party can put questions to the witnesses and the accused/defendant through the President of the court.

Finally, you can file conclusions (written remarks) on the technical aspects of the proceedings, the law and/or the facts of the case, to which the judge must respond;

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

Once the facts have been brought to the attention of the justice system or the police and gendarmerie, the victim is contacted for an interview.

The victim is not responsible for finding the accused or proving his or her guilt, that is the role of the public prosecutor. The victim may, however, be requested to provide any details or evidence to help establish the truth (medical certificates, identities of the witnesses etc ...)

The victim may choose to become a civil party, which gives him or her the right to claim financial compensation for the harm suffered and to be assisted by a lawyer.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

As soon as an investigation is referred to the police or gendarmerie they will interview the victim. On this occasion they will always inform him or her of their right:

  • To obtain damages or other appropriate compensation for their loss, including, where appropriate, a restorative justice measure;
  • To become a civil party either in the context of an action instituted by the public prosecutor, or by a direct summons of the perpetrator before a competent court or a complaint brought before the investigating judge;
  • If they wish to become a civil party, to be assisted by a lawyer of their choice or appointed, at their request, by the president of the bar association at the competent court, the costs being borne by the victim, unless they meet the conditions for access to legal aid or have legal protection insurance;
  • To be assisted by a service belonging to one or more public authorities or by an approved victim support association;
  • To apply, where appropriate, to the crime victims compensation board, in the case of certain offences;
  • To be informed about the protective measures available to them, including protection orders. Victims are also informed of the penalties incurred by the perpetrators of violence and the conditions of execution of possible convictions that may be imposed;
  • For victims who do not understand French, to benefit from an interpreter and a translation of information essential to the exercise of their rights;
  • For each to be accompanied, at their request, during all stages of the procedure, by their legal representative and by an adult of their choice, unless otherwise reasonably decided by the competent judicial authority;
  • To declare as their address the address of a third party, subject to the express agreement of the latter.

The victim must appear in court and testify if summoned as a witness.

A civil party does not have to be present in person if represented by a lawyer. However, if a civil party is absent and is not represented, they will be assumed to have given up their claim, unless they have written to the court to state their claim.

A civil party, and a victim called to give testimony before the court, may reclaim the costs of attending the hearing if they so request during the trial.

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

You can make statements at the hearing and present evidence; however this must respect the adversarial principle and be forwarded to the defence beforehand (the alleged perpetrator and/or his or her lawyer) as well as to the public prosecutor.

You can become a civil party either alone or with the help of a lawyer.

You must quantify your claim for damages/interest (sum of money intended to repair material damage, suffering, time lost as a result of the acts of which you were a victim). A victim support association can guide you through this process.

What information will I receive during the trial?

During the trial, the victim is informed of his or her right to become a civil party, to benefit from the assistance of a lawyer and to benefit under certain conditions from legal aid, as well as of the possibility of being accompanied by a victim support association.

A victim who is established as a civil party will be informed that in certain cases he or she may apply to the crime victims compensation board (CIVI) for payment of damages and interest if the court has so ruled.

Will I be able to access court files?

At the Criminal Court and the Police Court, you will not be able to access the files directly; you must first obtain the consent of the Prosecutor.

However, if you are a civil party, you may consult them directly or through your lawyer as the case may be, or request a copy of them.

At the Court of Assizes, you can obtain free copies of the police reports recording the offence, written witness statements and expert opinions and obtain copies of the other documents relating to the proceedings.

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

You will not be able to appeal against the judgment of the court if you have not applied to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party seeking damages, because the fact that you are a victim of the offence does not by itself make you a party to the proceedings.

If you have indeed applied to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party, and the court has accepted your application, you will not be able to appeal against the verdict of guilty or not guilty or against the sentence imposed. You can challenge only the parts of the judgment that concern you.

What are my rights after sentencing?

In all cases, you are entitled:

  • to be informed of any decision prohibiting the offender from coming into contact with you;
  • to be informed about the enforcement of the sentence (release of the convicted person, reduction of the sentence, address where the convicted person is living, etc.), through a victim support association (association d’aide aux victimes) or directly by the Penal Integration and Probation Service (Link opens in new windowService Pénitentiaire d’Insertion et de Probation — SPIP);
  • to ask the judge to prohibit the offender from meeting you or contacting you, if he or she is temporarily released or is on parole or if the sentence is reduced or modified;
  • to be notified if after conviction the offender escapes and there is a danger to you or those around you;
  • to be assisted by a victim support association;
  • to have your interests taken into consideration prior to any decision to release the convicted person, and to submit written comments before any decision is taken, within a period of fifteen days of being asked.

If you have joined the proceedings as a civil party, you are also entitled:

  • to be informed by the court of your right to apply to the crime victims compensation board (Link opens in new windowcommission d’indemnisation des victimes d’infractions — CIVI);
  • to be represented by a lawyer and/or to benefit from legal aid;
  • to be notified of the judgment (a copy will be sent to you).

While the offender is serving the sentence, you are entitled:

1. to refer any step harmful to your interests to the judicial authority (autorité judiciaire, includes the public prosecutor);

2. to obtain reparation for your loss, in the form of damages or other appropriate compensation; in appropriate cases you may be asked whether you would agree to a measure of restorative justice;

3. to be informed, if you wish, of the end of the execution of a custodial sentence, in the cases and conditions provided for by the Code of Criminal Procedure (Code de procédure pénale — CPP);

4. if necessary, to have consideration given to the need to guarantee your peace of mind and safety.

The judicial authority is obliged to guarantee all these rights throughout the execution of the sentence, whatever form it may take.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

After the trial, you may be assisted by a lawyer who can advise you on the desirability of an appeal, or on how to engage a bailiff.

You may also be able to obtain assistance from a victim support association, without any limit on duration.

What information will I be given if the offender is convicted?

If the offender is convicted, you will be notified of the sentence if it contains provisions prohibiting the author from contacting you or approaching your home.

If you have joined the proceedings as a civil party, you will receive a copy of the judgment imposing the sentence.

If the offender is imprisoned, you can be notified of any proposed parole and asked to give your views.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

When a person has been convicted of certain crimes (rape, murder or attempted murder, and most crimes of a sexual nature), and if you have so requested as a victim or a civil party, you will be informed, directly or through your lawyer, of the release of the offender on the expiry of the sentence.

In the case of an escape, you will be informed by the public prosecutor.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

Where there is a danger that a convicted person may come into contact with the victim or civil party, and such contact should be avoided, the courts dealing with the enforcement of sentences, if they decide that the convicted person should be temporarily or permanently released, will prohibit the convicted person from making contact with the victim or civil party, and, if necessary, from being in the vicinity of his or her home or place of work (Article 712-16-2, first paragraph, CPP).

Such a prohibition must be imposed — unless for stated reasons a decision is taken to the contrary — if the person has been convicted of one of the offences referred to in Article 706-47 CPP (which includes most sexual offences, Article 712-16-2, second paragraph, CPP).

In such cases the victim or civil party is informed of the measure and of the consequences the offender faces if he or she fails to comply with the prohibition (Article 712-16-2, third paragraph, CPP, see below).

If a civil party so requests, a lawyer acting for him or her — but not for a victim who is not a civil party — may appear and make submissions in the proceedings before a court that is considering an application for parole by a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment (emprisonnement or réclusion) of five years or more.

Moreover, courts dealing with the enforcement of sentences may, before taking a decision, inform the victim or civil party, directly or through their lawyer, that they can submit their observations in writing within 15 days of being so notified. The victim or civil party can send their observations to the court by whatever means they prefer.

A victim cannot appeal against decisions relating to the execution of the convicted person’s sentence. The victim may file a fresh complaint if the perpetrator commits fresh offences. If the convicted person commits any infringement of his or her obligations or prohibitions, for example by failing to comply with the prohibition on making contact with the victim, the victim may report the matter to the judge monitoring the terms of parole or to the public prosecutor.

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

The legislation in force allows any person who considers themselves a victim:

  • to apply to the investigating judge in charge of the case to be recognised as a civil party seeking damages (constitution de partie civile);
  • to bring an action for interim relief (action en référé), or an action on the substance in the civil courts (action devant le juge civil au fond).

1) There are a number of ways in which a civil claim can be brought before the criminal courts:

-            A prosecution (action) brought when a public prosecution has not been set in motion by the public prosecutor (this has the effect of triggering a public prosecution).

Two methods are possible:

  • a direct summons to appear(citation directe), for minor offences (contraventions) or intermediate offences (délits);
  • an application for recognition as a civil party to the criminal proceedings (for intermediate offences or serious crimes (crimes).

-            Intervention (intervention), when a public prosecution has already been brought.

-            An application for recognition as a civil party to the criminal proceedings.

A victim can ask to join the proceedings as a civil party at the hearing, but also by sending an application to the presiding judge of the criminal court, by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or by fax, stating that the applicant wishes to join the proceedings as a civil party seeking damages and indicating the amount of damages claimed. This can also be done through a lawyer.

2) A civil claim can be brought in the civil courts under the ordinary law of civil liability.

If a victim brings an action for damages in the civil courts, he or she will not then be able to proceed in the criminal courts. But if a victim asks to be treated as a civil party in the criminal proceedings, he or she is not thereby prevented from bringing the matter before the civil courts.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

If a victim has difficulty in recovering the value of compensation, he or she may resort to civil enforcement proceedings by engaging a bailiff (huissier de justice). The application must be sent by post to the presiding judge of the regional court (tribunal de grande instance) of the convicted person’s principal residence (domicile) or, if he or she is in prison, of the regional court of the place where the prison is located. The following may be seized:

- a share of the remaining available salary of the convicted person;

- funds in his or her bank account;

- certain assets that may belong to him or her.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

If the convicted person does not compensate the victim voluntarily, the victim may refer the matter to the Victims of Crime Recovery Assistance Service (Service d’Aide au Recouvrement des Victimes d’Infractions — SARVI). It is sufficient for the victim to show that he or she has been awarded damages by a final criminal judgment (against which there is no further appeal possible).

Taking the place of the person liable, SARVI pays the victim all the damages up to EUR 1 000; beyond that it pays an advance of 30 %, up to a ceiling of EUR 3 000. After paying an advance, SARVI pays the balance due as and when it collects money from the person convicted.

To apply to SARVI the victim should obtain a recovery assistance application form (formulaire de demande d’aide au recouvrement) from the regional court (for example from the court’s single registry office (guichet unique de greffe), the registry of the judge delegated to deal with victims (greffe du juge délégué aux victimes), the enforcement office (bureau d’execution) or the victim support office (bureau d’aide aux victimes)) or from a law centre (maison de la justice et du droit), a legal information desk (point d’accès au droit), a town hall or the like, which will also forward the completed form to SARVI.

An application to SARVI must be made no less than two months and no more than one year from the day the judgment awarding damages becomes final.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

The Guarantee Fund for Victims of Terrorism and Other Offences (Fonds de garantie des victimes d’actes de terrorisme et d’autres infractions — FGTI) compensates victims of terrorist acts in accordance with a special procedure. It also compensates:

- victims of rape, sexual assault, theft, fraud, breach of trust, extortion, or destruction of or damage to property;

- victims of an offence resulting in permanent disability or total incapacity for work;

- relatives of victims of murder or manslaughter.

To receive compensation from the Fund, a victim meeting certain conditions must make an application direct to the crime victims compensation board (CIVI) at the regional court of the applicant’s principal residence or of the place of the criminal court trying the offence.

The application must be made to the board within three years of the date of the offence. This period is extended by one year from the date of the last criminal judgment.

If the offence was committed in France, compensation can be awarded to:

- holders of French nationality;

- nationals of a Member State of the European Union.

If the offence took place abroad, only French nationals can be compensated.

1) In cases of serious personal injury:

The victim may obtain full compensation for damage resulting from personal injury where the offence resulted in death, mutilation or permanent disability or in total incapacity for work equal to or greater than one month, or if the offence was one of rape, sexual assault, or trafficking in human beings.

The board will take account of benefits paid by social welfare bodies, mutual health insurance societies, insurance companies, etc. Clothing or material damage is not compensated.

2) In the case of minor personal injury and material damage resulting from theft, fraud, breach of trust, extortion or the destruction of or damage to property:

If the victim has suffered bodily injury resulting in total incapacity for work of less than one month or material loss as a result of one of these offences, the compensation available is subject to strict conditions and is limited by a ceiling.

To qualify for compensation of this kind the victim must meet the following additional conditions:

- the victim’s resources must not exceed 1.5 times the ceiling set for partial legal aid (adjusted for family expenses);

- the victim must be unable to obtain effective and sufficient compensation for the damage caused from an insurance company, a social welfare body or any other body that might be liable;

- in the case of material loss only, the victim must be in a serious material or psychological situation as a result of the offence.

If these conditions are met, the victim may qualify for compensation capped at EUR 4 500.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

If the accused is not convicted, you can bring a civil action claiming compensation for your loss in a civil court. You will have to show that the perpetrator is responsible for the harm you have suffered.

Proceedings before the crime victims compensation board (CIVI) are independent of any proceedings in the criminal courts, and a victim may apply to the board even if there is no judgment or ruling from a criminal court and even if the accused is acquitted.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

In proceedings before the crime victims compensation board, you can claim an interim payment if your right to compensation is not contested and if your loss cannot be finally determined because you cannot calculate the total amount or because the social welfare bodies have not yet told you what sums they will repay. If you do not meet these conditions, an interim payment may nevertheless be granted to you at the discretion of the chair of the board.

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime who do I contact for support and assistance?

Victim support structures are listed in a directory of victim support associations: Link opens in new windowAnnuaire des associations d’aide aux victimes.

You can contact the victim support association closest to where you live.

Victim support hotline

Specific victim assistance:

  • Children in danger: 119 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Missing children: 116 000 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Violence against women: 3919 — 7 days a week, Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 22.00 and Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9.00 to 18.00
  • Rape and sexual assault: 0 800 05 95 95 — Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 19.00
  • Racist acts: 01 40 35 36 55 — Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10.30 to 13.30
  • Homophobic acts: 01 48 06 42 41 — Monday to Friday from 18.00 to 22.00, Saturday from 14.00 to 16.00 and Sunday from 18.00 to 20.00
  • Link opens in new windowSchool bullying: 3020 — Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 20.00 and Saturday from 9.00 to 18.00

Is victim support free?

Yes, the help provided by victim support associations is completely free.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

Medical help:

A victim can consult a doctor and obtain certificates recording his or her injuries by visiting a hospital.

Domestic violence:

Regardless of marital status, in case of danger, a victim may make an urgent application to a family court judge (juge aux affaires familiales) at the regional court (tribunal de grande instance) to obtain a protection order provisionally giving him or her the use of the family home and excluding a violent partner.

Legal aid:

Each regional court has a victim support office (bureau d’aide aux victimes) run by a victim support association. These offices inform, guide and accompany the victims of criminal offences, and explain the functioning of the courts to them and any proceedings concerning them that may be in progress. This enables victims to keep abreast of:

  • any steps taken as a matter of urgency, such as an immediate appearance in court (comparution immédiate);
  • the progress of criminal proceedings.

Victims will always be guided towards any compensation mechanism for which they may qualify.

The assistance given is free and confidential.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

Victim support associations assist victims throughout the proceedings by providing free legal and welfare information and psychological support. Their representatives can assist victims when they are filing a complaint or asking to be treated as a civil party to the criminal proceedings. They may also attend criminal hearings and help the victim to understand the procedural steps and the decisions taken by the different players.

Victim support associations may have a presence in gendarmerie and police stations, hospitals, courthouses, social welfare offices, etc. Their addresses and telephone numbers are available from the courts and from gendarmerie and police stations, and also from the directory accessible through this Link opens in new windowlink.

Alongside these ordinary victim support associations, there are numerous other associations that have no special recognition working in particular areas such as personal injury, domestic violence, traffic accidents, medical errors, etc. Some associations specialising in helping female victims of violence can provide women and their children with temporary accommodation.

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.

The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.
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Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Croatia

Victims of crime have a number of rights in pre-trial and criminal proceedings, with particular protection being afforded to children and victims of crimes against sexual freedom and human trafficking

A victim of a crime has the right to:

  • information that the police, the investigator, the state attorney's office (državno odvjetništvo) and the court have a duty to provide;
  • effective psychological and other expert assistance and support from bodies, organisations and institutions that support victims of crime;
  • participate in criminal proceedings as the injured party,
  • be informed by the state attorney (državni odvjetnik) regarding action taken on the basis of the victim’s report, and to file a complaint to a senior state attorney (viši državni odvjetnik);
  • state-funded specialist counselling if he/she suffers very severe psychosomatic damage or very serious consequences of the crime;
  • file an associated action for damages;
  • compensation in accordance with a separate law if he/she has suffered grievous bodily harm or serious deterioration of health as a result of violent crime.

A victim of a crime against sexual freedom or a crime of human trafficking has the following rights in addition to those mentioned above:

  • to speak with a counsellor prior to being interviewed, with the cost being met by the budget;
  • state-funded legal aid;
  • to be interviewed by a person of the same sex at the police station or state attorney's office;
  • to have a person of trust present during the interview;
  • to refuse to answer unnecessary questions relating to his/her personal life;
  • to ask to be interviewed via an audio-visual device;
  • confidentiality of personal data;
  • to demand the exclusion of the public from the hearing;
  • to be informed of these rights by the court, state attorney and the police before the first interview.

If a child is the victim of crime, he/she has the following rights in addition to those mentioned above:

  • state-funded legal aid;
  • to be accompanied by a person of trust when participating in procedures;
  • confidentiality of personal data;
  • to be interviewed in his/her home or another specially equipped location instead of a court;
  • the exclusion of the public;
  • for the questioning to be conducted without the judge or parties present in the same room with the child, through audio-video devices operated by a professional assistant;
  • for particular care to be taken during the interview so that the child’s mental health is not adversely affected.

Children are all persons under the age of 18 years.

Child witnesses and victims are to be examined by the investigating judge at the evidentiary hearing, and a child witness is to be subpoenaed through his/her parents or guardians.

Private prosecution

When a crime is reported, the state attorney will prosecute ex officio in most cases.

A private prosecution may be brought in the case of crimes for which criminal proceedings are launched on the basis of a private prosecution. The private prosecution must be brought within three months of the date when the authorised natural or legal person learned of the crime and the offender.

Associated action for damages

A victim of crime is also an injured party and is entitled to file an associated action for damages before the court.

Such an action may include the following claims:

  • compensation for damages, which can be tangible or intangible (pain suffered, fear);
  • return of belongings — if the injured party can prove that he/she was the owner or lawful holder;
  • annulment of a specific transaction — if the crime resulted in a property transaction (if the defendant forced the victim to conclude a contract).

An associated action for damages may be filed in criminal proceedings or in separate civil proceedings against the defendant. If the action is filed during criminal proceedings, a prerequisite for its acceptance is that the court finds the defendant guilty.

That is not a prerequisite for the success of an action in civil proceedings.

Rights of injured parties during an investigation and in criminal proceedings

During an investigation the victims of a crime, as private prosecutors and injured parties, are entitled to present facts and move to introduce evidence that is material for ascertaining the crime, identifying the offender(s) and establishing their claims in the associated action for damages.

A victim who takes part in criminal proceedings as an injured party has the right to:

  • use his/her own language, including deaf and deafblind sign language, and to the assistance of an interpreter if he/she does not understand or use Croatian, or to the assistance of a translator or sign language interpreter if he/she is deaf or deafblind;
  • use his/her own language;
  • file an associated action for damages and motions for temporary injunctions;
  • a representative;
  • present facts and move to introduce evidence;
  • attend the evidentiary hearing;
  • attend the proceedings, take part in the evidentiary proceedings and make a closing statement;
  • access the case file;
  • ask to be informed by the state attorney in respect of action taken on the basis of his/her report and file a complaint to a senior state attorney;
  • appeal;
  • file a motion to prosecute and bring a private prosecution;
  • receive notice of the rejection of a criminal charge or of the decision of the state attorney not to prosecute;
  • prosecute instead of the state attorney;
  • seek restoration of the previous situation;
  • receive notice of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

The state attorney’s office and the court are obliged to examine, both before, and at each stage of, the criminal proceedings, whether there is any possibility of the accused making amends to the injured party for the damage caused by the crime. They are also obliged to inform the injured party of certain rights laid down by law (the injured party’s right to use his/her own language, the right to file an associated action for damages, etc.).

Right to financial compensation

The Act on Financial Compensation for Victims of Crime (Zakon o novčanoj naknadi žrtvama kaznenih djela) (Narodne Novine (NN; Official Gazette of the Republic of Croatia) Nos 80/08 and 27/11) lays down a right to financial compensation for victims of crime involving violence committed with intent in Croatia, or for their relatives under the conditions set out in that Act.

It establishes a right to financial compensation for victims of violent crime committed with intent and specifies the prerequisites and procedure for exercising the right to compensation, the bodies that take decisions and participate in the decision-making process on the right to compensation and the bodies and procedure in cross-border cases.

Victims of violent crime committed with intent have a right to financial compensation from the national budget.

The police, the state attorney's office and the courts are required to provide information on the right to compensation, supply the necessary application forms and, at the victim’s request, give general guidance and information on how to fill out an application and on the supporting documents that are required.

Applications for financial compensation must be submitted to the Ministry of Justice on the form which can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website.

Application form for financial compensation for victims of crime_hr PDF(223 Kb)hr

Applications must be submitted within six months of the date on which the crime was committed. If there are legitimate reasons why a victim was unable to submit such an application within the deadline, he/she must do so within three months of the date on which those reasons cease to exist, and in any event within three years of the date on which the crime was committed.

If the victim is a minor or a person who has been stripped of contractual capacity and his/her legal representative did not submit an application within six months of the date on which the crime was committed, the period of six months starts to run from the person‘s eighteenth birthday or from the day on which criminal proceedings are launched after the victim has reached the age of majority or from the day when the person’s contractual capacity is restored.

Persons entitled to financial compensation:

  • victims of crime involving violence who are citizens of the Republic of Croatia, citizens of a Member State of the European Union or permanently resident in the European Union, and if the crime was committed in Croatia;
  • a victim who has suffered grievous bodily harm or whose health has deteriorated as a result of the crime (such a person is entitled to compensation for the costs of treatment, provided that it is not covered by mandatory health insurance, up to the amount of health insurance in the Republic of Croatia, and compensation for loss of earnings up to the amount of HRK 35 000);
  • a person who is a close relative of the deceased victim (spouse or partner, child, parent, adoptive parent, adopted child, step-parent, step-child, same-sex partner, grandparent and grandchild if they belonged to the same household as the victim) (such a person is entitled to compensation of up to HRK 70 000 for the loss of statutory maintenance);
  • in the event of the death of a victim, the person who paid the funeral expenses is entitled to compensation of up to HRK 5 000;
  • if a crime is reported to or filed by the police or the public prosecutor's office within six months from the date on which it was committed, regardless of whether or not the offender is known.

When the amount of compensation is established, account is taken of the victim’s conduct during and after the crime or his/her contribution to the causing of the damage and to the extent of the damage, whether the person is an immediate victim and whether he/she reported the crime to the competent authorities and when. In addition, an assessment is made of the victim’s cooperation with the police and the competent authorities in order to bring the offender to justice, account being taken of whether the immediate victim helped to cause the damage or exacerbated the damage; in any of these cases the compensation to which the victim is entitled will be reduced accordingly. An application for compensation will be refused, or the amount reduced, if the victim is found to be involved in organised crime or a criminal organisation. Compensation may also be refused, or the amount reduced, if the granting of full compensation would be contrary to the principle of fairness, morality and public policy.

Notice of offender's release

When a defendant is sentenced to imprisonment, the Independent Service for Victim and Witness Support at the Ministry of Justice will inform the victim of the prisoner's release date (unconditional release and release on probation).

Statutory obligation to inform victims of prisoner release

In accordance with the provisions of the Act Amending the Execution of Prison Sentences Act (Zakon o izmjenama i dopunama Zakona o izvršenju kazne zatvora), the Independent Service for Victim and Witness Support at the Ministry of Justice is required to inform the victim, injured party or his/her family about the release of a prisoner.

Victims are notified of the release of a prisoner in cases of crimes against sexual freedom and sexual morality, life and limb or crimes involving violence.

The information mentioned above is provided to a victim, injured party or his/her family, irrespective of whether the prisoner is being released unconditionally or on probation.

Moreover, when a decision is being taken on the advisability of allowing a prisoner to leave prison for his/her place of permanent or temporary residence, penitentiaries/prisons may require the probation service to establish the attitude of the victim or the victim’s family to the crime that was committed. The Independent Service for Victim and Witness Support draws up reports for the probation service on the basis of its discussions with the victim.

Support for witnesses and victims

Support for victims and witnesses in the Republic of Croatia is coordinated by the Independent Service for Victim and Witness Support (Samostalna služba za podršku žrtvama i svjedocima) at the Ministry of Justice.

Victims and witnesses can obtain support and information on their rights and on procedures from the Victim and Witness Support Department of a court.

Such departments have been set up at seven county courts (županijski sudovi), namely in Zagreb, Zadar, Osijek, Vukovar, Split, Sisak and Rijeka. The departments provide victims (and witnesses) and persons accompanying them with emotional support, practical information and information on rights. Support is also provided by departments of competent municipal and misdemeanour courts (općinski and prekršajni sudovi).

Victims can also obtain information about their rights and the types of assistance available to them by calling the free phone number 116 006 of the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanours (see the website of the National Call Centre).

The Ministry of Justice also provides victims and witnesses with support and information about their rights, and inquiries may be sent via email to: Link opens in new windowzrtve.i.svjedoci@pravosudje.hr or to the website of the Croatian Ministry of Justice: Link opens in new windowhttps://pravosudje.gov.hr/

Support for victims and witnesses in cross-border cases

The Independent Service for Support to Victims and Witnesses, which has been set up at the Ministry of Justice, provides support and information to both witnesses and victims who are summoned through international legal assistance (including witnesses of war crimes).

Information letters are sent to witnesses who are summoned to give testimony at courts in the Republic of Croatia, or to Croatian witnesses who are summoned to appear before foreign courts.

Witnesses of war crimes are provided with physical protection, where necessary, and assistance for preparing their journey and their appearance before the competent judicial body (in the case of witnesses and other parties who are summoned for questioning in criminal proceedings relating to war crimes before competent judicial bodies in the Republic of Croatia, or outside Croatia when such support relates to a request for international legal assistance).

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Croatian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

The Code of Criminal Procedure does not regulate the contents of the information sheet provided to the victim after the offence has occurred and before it is reported. Everyone has the right and option to contact the State Attorney's Office, where they can report a crime, deposit a statement, or make a submission on a matter falling within the State Attorney's remit. The individual contacting the Office will receive information on how to report the crime and other basic information on his/her rights and obligations.

Police officers are required to record the report of a crime that is prosecuted ex officio.

Furthermore, everyone is entitled to appropriate police protection if there are reasonable grounds for providing such protection.

Victim and witness support departments, which have been established by seven county courts, provide emotional support and information to victims, witnesses, and their families on their rights (including technical and practical information). Information and support are provided regardless of the stage of proceedings. The victim will receive information and support even if he/she fails to report the crime. Those departments also refer victims and witnesses to specialised civil society institutions and organisations, depending on their needs.

I don't live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

Provisions regulating the rights of victims and civil parties apply equally without regard for nationality because Croatian criminal legislation applies to anyone who commits a crime within Croatia’s borders. Parties to and participants in proceedings are entitled to use their mother tongue.

The police, the State Attorney's Office and the courts are required, under the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act, to provide information to victims of crime on their rights under those acts. This means that the State Attorney's Office and the courts are required to examine the possibilities, both before criminal proceedings and during any stage thereof, for the individual charged to compensate the civil party for any loss/damage he/she may have suffered as a result of the offence, to inform the civil party of his/her right to use his/her mother tongue and to lodge a property-law claim (the right to compensation), verbally, in a language understood by the victim, or in writing, either in Croatian or in English. The State Attorney’s Office and the courts are also required to provide the victim, at his/her request, with general instructions and information on how to complete the claim and which supporting documents to submit. Information sheets containing information on the victim’s right to compensation are available in Croatian and English, as is the Claim for Compensation Form. These documents, in Croatian and English versions, can be downloaded from the website of the Croatian Ministry of Justice.

Any victim who reports a crime will receive information on his/her rights from the police. After informing the victim verbally, the police officer will hand out information in writing on the victim’s rights and any available information on services protecting and supporting victims. The latter include a number for the freephone victim support helpline.

For individuals without any knowledge of Croatian, a rights information sheet is available in other languages from the police.

Volunteers at the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanours(116-006) provide emotional support, information on rights and practical information. They also refer victims to other competent services and organisations to ensure they receive any additional information and other forms of support and assistance. This helpline is open from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and the staff can take calls in Croatian and English.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

a) The victim and civil party are entitled, within two months of pressing charges or reporting a crime, to request information from the State Attorney’s Office on the action taken in response to the charges/report. They will be informed by the State Attorney’s Office of the action taken within a reasonable time, no later than thirty days from the date of the request, unless the request jeopardises the effectiveness of the proceedings. The decision to withhold such information must be communicated to the victim or civil party making the request.

b) The State Attorney will suspend the investigation by a decision:

  • if the offence with which the individual is charged is not an offence prosecuted ex officio;
  • if the circumstances exclude the charged individual’s culpability, unless the unlawful act was committed in a state of mental incapacity;
  • if the statute of limitations has expired for the crime or if the offence is subject to an amnesty or pardon, or if there are other circumstances proscribing prosecution; and
  • if there is no evidence that the individual charged has committed the offence.

The decision to suspend the investigation is sent to the civil party and the individual charged, who will immediately be released if he/she has been placed in custody or on remand. In addition to the decision letter, the civil party will receive information, in accordance with Article 55 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, on how to pursue prosecution him/herself.

c) After examining the report and carrying out a check in the information system of the State Attorney's Office, the State Attorney will reject the report by a reasoned decision if it follows from the report itself:

  • that the offence is not an offence that can be prosecuted ex officio;
  • that the statute of limitations has expired for the offence, or that the offence is subject to an amnesty or pardon, or that the offence has already been finally adjudicated in court, or that there are other circumstances proscribing prosecution;
  • that the circumstances exclude culpability;
  • that there is no reason to believe that the suspect committed the offence reported; or
  • that information in the report suggests that the report is not credible.

No appeals are allowed against the State Attorney’s decision to dismiss a report.

Unless otherwise stipulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure, the State Attorney will inform the victim of his/her decision to dismiss the report and provide his/her reasons for doing so within eight days. The State Attorney will also provide information on how the victim may pursue prosecution him/herself. The State Attorney will promptly inform the person who made the report and the individual charged of his/her decision to dismiss the report, if so requested by either party.

If the State Attorney cannot assess the credibility of allegations from the report itself or if information in the report fails to provide sufficient grounds for a decision to initiate an investigation or gather evidence, the State Attorney will conduct enquiries him/herself or instruct the police to do so.

d) The custody supervisor will release the individual arrested or detained immediately:

  • if instructed to do so by the State Attorney;
  • if the arrested individual was not interrogated within the statutory deadline; or
  • if detention was cancelled.

e) The State Attorney will summon a witness or expert in writing to assist with evidence gathering. The summons may also be sent by the investigator on the State Attorney’s instructions. The court will summon a witness or expert to testify at an evidentiary hearing or attend a court hearing. The competent body will set in advance the time and place where evidence will be gathered. The person summoned will be warned of the consequences of any failure on his/her part to attend.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as the civil party is entitled to:

  • use his/her mother tongue, including sign language, and request assistance from an interpreter if he/she does not understand or use Croatian, or from a sign language interpreter in case the civil party is deaf or deafblind.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

Unless otherwise stipulated by a special law, the investigating judge will hear any child witness under 14 years of age. The hearing will take place without the judge or the parties being present in the same room as the child, using an audio-video device operated by a professional assistant. The hearing will be assisted by a psychologist, educator, or another professional person. The hearing may also be attended by a parent or guardian, unless this is contrary to the interests of the investigation or the child. The parties may put questions to the child witness through a professional, subject to the investigating judge’s approval. The hearing session will be recorded using an audio-video device and the recording will be sealed and appended to the minutes. The child witness may be summoned for a second hearing in exceptional circumstances only, with the same procedure being followed.

Unless otherwise stipulated by a special law, the investigating judge will hear any child witness aged 14-18. The child, especially if he/she is the victim of the offence, will be treated with consideration to ensure that the examination does not adversely affect the child’s psyche. Particular care will be taken to protect the child.

Any witness who cannot respond to a summons for reasons of old age, illness, or disability, may be heard in his/her own flat or other dwelling. Such witnesses may be heard using an audio-video device operated by a professional. If warranted by the witness’s condition, the examination will be conducted in such a way as to allow the parties to put questions to him/her without being present in the same room as the witness. If required, the hearing session will be recorded using an audio-video device and the recording will be sealed and appended to the minutes. This examination procedure will be followed if so requested by the victim of a sexual or human trafficking or domestic violence offence appearing as the witness. Such a witness may be summoned for a second hearing in exceptional circumstances only, if deemed necessary by the court.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Victim and witness support departments, which have been established by seven county courts (Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Rijeka, Sisak, Zadar and Vukovar) provide support to victims and witnesses giving evidence at these courts and at the municipal courts of these cities/towns. These departments also provide support at misdemeanour courts in domestic violence cases and refer victims and witnesses to specialised civil society institutions and organisations, depending on their needs.

Information and support are provided by telephone and when the victim/witness enters the court building. Information is also provided by email.

For more information, please visit the following Croatian Ministry of Justice page:

Link opens in new windowhttps://pravosudje.gov.hr/o-ministarstvu/djelokrug-6366/iz-pravosudnog-sustava-6372/podrska-zrtvama-i-svjedocima/6156

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

When informing the victim of his/her rights, the police will hand out information in writing on the victim’s rights and any available information on services supporting victims. The latter includes a number for the freephone victim support helpline. The rights information sheet includes the contact details of:

  • the competent victim and witness support department;
  • the civil society organisations in the relevant county;
  • the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanours (116-006);

How is my privacy protected?

Competent authorities may collect personal information only for purposes laid down by law, as part of their operations set out by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Personal information may be processed only when specified by a law or another regulation, and such processing must be limited to the purpose for which the information has been collected. Any further processing of such information is permitted, unless it is contrary to the purpose for which the information has been collected, and provided the competent bodies are authorised to process such information for another purpose laid down by law and the further processing is necessary and commensurate with the other purpose.

Personal information relating to someone’s health or sexual life may be processed in exceptional cases only, where the criminal offence, which is subject to a five-year custodial sentence or a stricter one, could not be detected or prosecuted in any other way, or where detection/prosecution would be fraught with disproportionate difficulties.

No processing of personal information relating to race or ethnicity, political persuasion, religious or philosophical belief, or trade union membership, is permitted.

Personal information collected for the purposes of criminal proceedings may be forwarded to government bodies in accordance with a special law, and to other legal entities, only if the State Attorney’s Office or the court finds they require such information for a purpose laid down by law. When such information is forwarded, the relevant legal entities will be reminded of their duty to protect the information of the persons to whom it relates.

Personal information may be used, in accordance with the regulations, in other criminal proceedings, in other proceedings dealing with punishable acts that are conducted in Croatia, in procedures relating to international criminal justice assistance, and in international police cooperation efforts.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

The victim will receive information and support from the victim and witness support department of the relevant court or civil society organisation even if he/she fails to report the crime.

Personal protection if I'm in danger

In accordance with Article 99 of the Police Tasks and Powers Act, the police will, unless stipulated otherwise by a special law, and for the period of time there are reasonable grounds for such action, ensure appropriate protection for the victim and any other person who has provided or may provide information relevant to the criminal proceedings, or for any person close to them, if they or persons close to them are at risk of danger from the offender or other individuals involved in the criminal proceedings. Victim protection provided by the police means 24-hour physical protection.

What types of protection are available?

In accordance with Article 130 of the Misdemeanours Act, the police may, temporarily and for up to eight days, order a precautionary measure against an individual reasonably suspected to have committed the offence. In practice, this usually translates into injunctions prohibiting the suspect from visiting a particular place or area (eviction from the victim’s home), approaching a particular person, or making or maintaining contact with a particular person. Within eight days the police will file charges with the competent misdemeanour court, which will then make a decision as to whether to suspend or extend the precautionary measure instigated. In addition, during the misdemeanour proceedings, the court may, under the Domestic Violence (Protection) Act, order the following measures to be taken against the offender:

  1. compulsory psychosocial treatment;
  2. an injunction prohibiting the offender from approaching, harassing, or stalking the victim of domestic violence;
  3. eviction from the shared home;
  4. compulsory treatment for substance abuse.

Under the Misdemeanours Act, the court may also resort to other protective and precautionary measures designed to protect the victim from being approached or harassed by the suspect.

Furthermore, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, the court and the State Attorney may, instead of remanding the individual charged in custody, order one or more precautionary measures, including an injunction to prohibit the offender from visiting a particular place or area, from approaching a particular person, from making or maintaining contact with a particular person,  or an injunction prohibiting the offender from stalking or harassing the victim or another person, or eviction from the victim’s home.

Who can offer me protection?

The victim can obtain information from the police about all his/her rights, including information on his/her right to protection, the types of protection offered, and on action to be taken by the police to protect the victim.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

Once the investigation has been completed and the relevant documents have been submitted to the competent criminal justice bodies, the police will no longer assess the victim’s needs except to carry out any of the protective or precautionary measures ordered. If reports of new circumstances are received pointing to a renewed threat from the offender, the police will take further action to protect the victim in line with its assessment and the facts of the case.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

The criminal justice system (during investigative and court proceedings) operates in such a way as to respect the victim’s rights and his/her status in the criminal proceedings, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. Before examining the victim, the prosecuting body conducting the investigation will assess the victim’s situation in cooperation with bodies, organisations or institutions that provide support and assistance to victims of crime. Assessing the victim’s situation includes determining the need to apply special protection measures for the victim’s benefit. If such a need exists, the prosecuting body will determine the protection measures to be applied (special questioning arrangements for the victim, the use of communication technologies to prevent any visual contact between the victim and the offender, and other measures laid down by law). Where the victim of a crime is a child, the need to apply special protection measures will be presumed and special protection measures will be determined. The assessment of the victim’s situation takes particular account of the victim’s personal characteristics, the type and nature of the offence, and the circumstances in which the offence was committed. Special attention will be paid to victims who have suffered major harm because of the gravity of the offence, victims of an offence committed because of the victim’s particular personal characteristics, and victims whose relationship to the offender makes them particularly vulnerable.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

The criminal justice system (during investigative and court proceedings) operates in such a way as to respect the victim’s rights and his/her status in the criminal proceedings, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. Before examining the victim, the prosecuting body conducting the investigation will assess the victim’s situation in cooperation with bodies, organisations or institutions that provide support and assistance to victims of crime. Assessing the victim’s situation includes determining the need to apply special protection measures for the victim’s benefit. If such a need exists, the prosecuting body will determine the protection measures to be applied (special questioning arrangements for the victim, the use of communication technologies to prevent any visual contact between the victim and the offender, and other measures laid down by law). Where the victim of a crime is a child, the need to apply special protection measures will be presumed and special protection measures will be determined. The assessment of the victim’s situation takes particular account of the victim’s personal characteristics, the type and nature of the offence, and the circumstances in which the offence was committed. Special attention will be paid to victims who have suffered major harm because of the gravity of the offence, victims of an offence committed because of the victim’s particular personal characteristics, and victims whose relationship to the offender makes them particularly vulnerable.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

If the victim of a crime is a child, he/she has the following additional rights in addition to the victim’s ordinary rights:

  1. the right to be represented by an authorised person, with the cost of such representation being funded from the government budget;
  2. the right to have his/her personal information treated confidentiality;
  3. the right to have the public excluded.

A child is any person under 18 years of age.

A child witness or victim is examined by the investigating judge at an evidentiary hearing, and the summons is sent to his/her parents or guardians.

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

Under the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act, when the direct victim dies as a result of a violent crime, the indirect victim (the spouse, partner, parent, foster child, foster parent, stepmother, stepfather or stepchild of the direct victim or the person with whom the direct victim lived in a same-sex relationship) is entitled to financial compensation as prescribed by the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act.

The indirect victim who was supported by the deceased (direct) victim is entitled to compensation of no more than HRK 70 000 as a result of the loss of statutory maintenance and to compensation of no more than HRK 5 000 in respect of normal funeral expenses where he/she has paid them.

Any person whose family member lost his/her life as a victim of a crime is entitled, as the civil party, to participate in the criminal proceedings and claim compensation (whether in criminal or civil proceedings).

My family member was a victim of crime – what are my rights?

The indirect victim is considered to be the spouse, partner, child, parent, foster child, foster parent, stepmother, stepfather or stepchild of the direct victim or the person with whom the direct victim lived in a same-sex relationship.

The indirect victim is also considered to be the grandfather, grandmother, or grandchild, if one of them is the direct victim, provided that the three shared a joint household for an extended period and that the grandfather and grandmother stood in for the parents.
Cohabitation and same-sex relationships will be interpreted according to Croatian regulations.

If the victim of a crime has lost his/her life, indirect victims are entitled to compensation (as a result of the loss of statutory maintenance and in respect of normal funeral expenses).

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

Croatia operates the victim-offender mediation model in pre-criminal proceedings for minor and young adult offenders. This is part of the conditional discretion system. In so doing, it observes the provisions of the Juvenile Courts Act governing the special obligation for minor and young adult offenders to engage in the mediation process through out-of-court settlement. In other words, if the minor offender complies with this obligation, he/she will be spared from standing trial.

Since 2013, Croatia has had a total of 60 mediators, who received their training in a one-year programme consisting of 170 teaching hours (comprising lectures, assignments, roleplay and practical mentoring exercises, and supervision). They are the only professionals in Croatia authorised to administer restorative justice in criminal cases and they received their certificates from the Croatian Ministry of Social Policy and Young People, the Out-of-Court Settlement Association, and UNICEF.

As a result, the central town of each Croatian county operates its own out-of-court settlement service.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

Link opens in new windowThe Code of Criminal Procedure
Link opens in new windowThe Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Croatian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

Crimes can be reported by filing a criminal complaint in written, verbal or other form with the competent state attorney’s office.

Individuals filing a criminal complaint verbally are warned of the consequences of filing false complaints. Verbal complaints are recorded. Complaints filed by telephone or other telecommunication means are recorded, where possible, and an official note is drawn up.

When filing a complaint, victims are provided with a written acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint, which contains the basic details of the crime. Victims who do not speak or understand the language used by the competent body may report the crime in their own language and are provided with an interpreter or another person who speaks and understands both the official and the victim’s languages. Victims who do not speak or understand the language used by the competent body may request to have the acknowledgement translated into their language at the body’s expense.

All criminal complaints received by courts, the police, or state attorney’s offices outside the area of jurisdiction are immediately forwarded to the competent state attorney’s office.

The state attorney duly enters the criminal complaint in the register of criminal complaints at the time of its receipt, except in cases exempted under law.

Where the state attorney has only heard news of a crime or received a report from the victim, he/she draws up an official note, records it in the register of miscellaneous offence cases and proceeds as provided for by law.

If the criminal complaint contains no details of the crime, i.e. if the state attorney cannot identify the offence reported, he/she records it in the register of miscellaneous offence cases and asks the person filing the complaint to provide additional information within 15 days.

If the person filing the complaint ignores the request for additional information, the state attorney draws up an official note of this. Once the deadline for submitting additional information has expired, the state attorney must report this to a senior state attorney within eight days. The senior state attorney may order the criminal complaint to be entered in the register of criminal complaints.

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 state attorney a request for information on the action taken in response to the complaint/report. The state attorney 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 harm the proceedings. If the state attorney decides not to provide this information, he/she must inform the victim/injured party thereof.

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

Child victims have all of the above rights as well as the right to an authorised representative, the cost of which is borne 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 in the course of proceedings so that they may obtain compensation for the harm/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 in every legal matter:

  • if the applicant does not have the knowledge or aptitude to assert his/her rights;
  • if the applicant has not received legal aid under separate regulations;
  • if the application submitted is not manifestly unfounded;
  • if the applicant’s economic situation is such that the payment of legal aid would jeopardise his/her subsistence or that of the members of his/her 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 awarded:

  1. if the proceedings are complex;
  2. if the applicant is incapable of representing him/herself;
  3. if the applicant’s economic situation is such that the payment of legal aid would jeopardise his/her subsistence or that of the members of his/her household.;
  4. if litigation is not excessive;
  5. if the applicant has not had his/her application rejected within the past six months for intentionally supplying inaccurate information; and
  6. if the applicant has not received legal aid under separate regulations.

Secondary legal 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 harm/injury suffered as a result of the offence;
  3. a beneficiary of maintenance payments under separate regulations on 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 on a 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 by, and compensation due to, 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 state attorney finds that there is no basis for prosecuting an offence prosecutable ex officio or a reported individual, he/she must inform the victim about this within eight days and instruct the victim that they may pursue prosecution themselves. The same must be done by a court that has stopped proceedings because the state attorney had 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 his/her mother tongue, including sign language, and request an interpreter, if he/she does 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 move to introduce 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 state attorney in respect of action taken on the basis of his/her criminal complaint and file a complaint to a senior state attorney;
  • appeal;
  • seek restoration of the previous situation;
  • receive notice 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 natural persons who have suffered physical or psychological harm, property damage or a serious violation of his/her fundamental rights and freedoms as a direct consequence of the crime. The spouse, partner, life partner, informal life partner, descendant(s), or in the absence of the latter, ascendant(s) or sibling(s) of the person whose death is directly attributable to the crime, and any person(s) legally maintained by the deceased is also considered to be victim of that crime.

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

The capacity of a party to or participant in the proceedings does not depend on that person’s wish, but on the role the person played in the specific criminal matter. Anyone can appear in any of the above roles, depending on the circumstances laid down by the regulations; the choice that they have concerns the rights they wish to exercise as an 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 his/her dignity while giving evidence as the victim;
  • be heard without undue delay after filing a criminal complaint and to subsequently be interrogated no more than is absolutely necessary for the purpose of the criminal proceedings;
  • be accompanied by a person of trust in whatever actions he/she takes part;
  • endure 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 state attorney to take no action, and to pursue prosecution individually without the state attorney;
  • be informed by the state attorney on the action taken on the basis of his/her complaint (Article 206a of the Act), and to lodge a complaint with a senior state attorney (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 his/her mother tongue, including sign language, and request an interpreter, if he/she does 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 move to introduce 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 Code;
  • ask to be informed by the state attorney in respect of action taken on the basis of his/her criminal complaint and file a complaint to a senior state attorney;
  • appeal;
  • seek restoration of the previous situation;
  • receive notice of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

In addition to the above rights, victims of sexual crimes and human trafficking have additional rights as listed in point 12.

If the victim of a crime is a child, he/she is has additional rights, as listed in point 13, in addition to the abovementioned victims’ rights.

During the investigation stage, crime victims who are private plaintiffs or injured parties may draw attention to all facts and introduce 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 any stage during the criminal proceedings, the State Attorney’s Office and the court must consider the possibility that the defendant may compensate the injured party for any loss caused by the offence. They must also inform the injured party of certain rights under law (e.g. the injured party’s right to use his/her mother tongue, the right to file an associated action for damages, etc.).

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

The following may be asked to stand witness: the injured party, the injured party as a prosecutor, and the private plaintiff.

A private plaintiff has the same rights as the state attorney 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?

The injured party in criminal proceedings has the rights listed in point 25.

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 introduce evidence that is material for ascertaining the crime, identifying the offender(s) and establishing their claims in the associated action for damages.

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

  • ask to be informed by the state attorney in respect of action taken on the basis of his/her report and file a complaint to a senior state attorney;
  • be informed that the criminal complaint has been dismissed or that the state attorney 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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Croatian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

Victims participating in criminal proceedings as an injured party may appeal the ruling.

Authorised persons may appeal against a first-instance ruling within 15 days of the date of service of a copy of the ruling.

An appeal may be lodged by either litigant, the defence attorney or the injured party.

The injured party may appeal against the ruling on the grounds of the court’s decision regarding the costs of the criminal proceedings or the claim for damages. However, if the state attorney has taken over prosecution from the injured party acting as private prosecutor, the latter may appeal on any grounds on which a ruling may be challenged.

What are my rights after sentencing?

Victims participating in criminal proceedings as an injured party may lodge an appeal and seek restoration of the previous situation.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

Victims and witnesses can turn to specialised departments of county courts for information and support at any point during criminal (or misdemeanour) proceedings, but before the ruling has been issued.

If victims or witnesses turn to these victim and witness support departments after the ruling has been issued, the departments will provide them with information consistent with their remit, and refer them to other organisations and services specialising in victims’ or witnesses’ needs.

The Independent support service for victims and witnesses of the Ministry of Justice provides victims, injured parties or their families with information on the offender’s release from prison (automatic or conditional release). This information is provided to all victims of, and injured parties following, serious offences, such as crimes against life and limb, sexual crimes, violent crimes or war crimes.

In exceptional cases, when the Independent service finds that a victim of prolonged domestic violence or violence against women requires coordinated additional support, it informs the coordinator of the County team for preventing and combating domestic violence and violence against women of the interview conducted with the victim and the problems he/she faces, and asks that the County Team take appropriate action. Where appropriate, this information is also forwarded to the competent police department and the competent social welfare centre, if the victim (child/person) is deprived of legal capacity, or to the competent probation office, if the offender has been released conditionally and is required to report regularly to the probation office.

In exceptional cases, when the Independent service concludes on the basis of information gathered from the victim (of a crime other than those mentioned above) that the victim requires urgent additional support and protection, it may request action from the competent police department subject to the victim’s consent.

Victim support is also provided by civil society organisations, immediately after the offence is committed, during the criminal proceedings, and after the trial, i.e. or after a final ruling has been issued. Support and assistance provided by civil society organisations depends on their remit.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

A written ruling with instructions on legal remedies is served on the plaintiff, the defendant and his/her defence attorney, the injured party (if the latter has the right to appeal), the party whose property has been confiscated by the ruling and the legal entity from which the proceeds are to be confiscated.

An injured party who does not have the right of appeal will be served the ruling as provided for by law, together with a note on his/her right to seek restoration of the previous situation. The final ruling is served on the injured party on request.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

Under the Criminal Procedure Act, the victim has the right to be informed by the police, without delay, of the end of detention or remand for the offender, except where such disclosure might put the offender at risk. The victim is also informed of the measures taken to protect him/her, where such measures have been ordered.

Penitentiaries and prisons do not inform the Independent support service for victims and witnesses of escaped prisoners, but send a notification of the offender’s escape to police only; however, the law is soon to be amended.

Victims have the right to be informed, on request, of the offender’s release from detention or remand and his/her escape or release from prison, and of the measures taken in the interest of the victim’s safety.

Victims of serious crimes, i.e. crimes against life and limb, sexual crimes, violent crimes and war crimes, are informed of the offender’s automatic or conditional release.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

Any statement made by the victim of a violent crime and other relevant information pertaining to the victim are taken into account when a decision is considered to potentially allow the offender the benefit of spending weekends outside a penitentiary or prison. The victim’s statement forms part of the conditional release file. However, the regulations currently in force do not provide for the victim to be involved in a conditional release decision and/or appeal against that decision.

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

Under specific regulations, victims of crimes punishable by imprisonment of five or more years, who have suffered severe psychophysical trauma or have been seriously affected by the crime, have the right to a counsellor before giving testimony in criminal proceedings or filing a claim for damages; the counsellor's fees are to be borne by the government.

Claims for damages in criminal proceedings may be filed by persons authorised to pursue such claims in civil actions.

Crime victims filing a claim for damages must indicate whether they have obtained compensation or filed a claim for damages.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

Once the decision on a claim for damages becomes final and enforceable, the injured party may request the court that issued the decision in first-instance proceedings to provide issue him/her with a certified copy of that decision, with an indication that the latter is enforceable.

If the decision does not lay down a deadline for compliance, the obligation imposed by the decision must be fulfilled within 15 days of the decision becoming final. After this deadline the fulfilment of the obligation becomes subject to enforcement.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

A victim of an intentional crime may be compensated from the State budget under a specific act. Where the victim has won a claim for damages, the amount of compensation depends on the amount awarded; the court deciding on the claim for damages will take the same action where the victim has already been compensated from the State budget.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

Victims of intentional violent crimes committed in Croatia after 1 July 2013 are eligible for compensation:

  • if they are citizens or residents of Croatia or another EU Member State;
  • if they have suffered grievous bodily harm or serious deterioration of health as a result of the crime;
  • if the crime is reported to or filed by the police or the public prosecutor's office within six months from the date on which it was committed, regardless of whether or not the offender is known;
  • if they have submitted a request on an official form, along with the requisite documentation (the form can be obtained at any police station, public prosecutor’s office or municipal or county court; it is also available online, on the websites of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Public Prosecutor and municipal and county courts.

The victim has the right to be compensated:

  • the costs of medical treatment in accordance with the national ceilings; this compensation is only granted where the victim cannot be compensated under a health insurance cover;
  • up to HRK 35 000 for lost earnings.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

The victim may be awarded compensation even if the perpetrator is unknown or if criminal proceedings have not been initiated.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

Emergency payments are not provided for by Croatian law.

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page Croatian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime. Who do I contact for support and assistance?

Victim support helpline

The national support helpline for victims of crime and minor offences (116-006) provides emotional support, information on victim’s rights and guidance as to which bodies and organisations can provide further information, assistance and support.

The helpline is a freephone service,

available in Croatian and English, weekdays from 8.00 to 20.00.

The national support helpline for victims of crime and minor offences (116-006) is a general support service.

More information is available on: Link opens in new windowhttp://pzs.hr/

Other specialised civil society organisations also provide support and assistance to victims of certain crimes and to children via telephone. More information and the list of these organisations by county is available on the website of the Link opens in new windowCroatian Ministry of Justice.

List of organisations providing nationwide psychosocial and legal assistance:

116 006

National support helpline for victims of crime and minor offences

Weekdays 8.00-20.00

116 000

National missing children hotline

Centre for missing and abused children

24/7

116 111

Hrabri telefon children helpline

Weekdays 9.00-20.00

0800 0800

Hrabri telefon parents helpline

Weekdays 9.00-20.00

0800 77 99

Human trafficking emergency number

Every day, 10.00-18.00

0800 55 44

Counselling centre for women victims of violence

Zagreb women’s shelter

Weekdays 11.00-17.00

0800 655 222

Emergency number for women and children victims of violence

Ženska pomoć sada women’s helpline

24/7

0800 200 144

B.a.B.e. a free legal assistance for victims of domestic violence

Weekdays 9.00-15.00

01 6119 444

Support centre for victims of sexual violence

Ženska soba sexual rights centre

Weekdays 10.00-17.00

01 48 28 888

Psychological assistance

TESA centre for psychological assistance

Weekdays 10.00-22.00

01 48 33 888

Blue Phone

Weekdays 9.00-21.00

01 4811 320

Free legal aid

Legal Clinic of the University of Law

Weekdays 10.00-12.00, Wed and Thu 17.00-19.00

Is victim support free?

Yes.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

Victim and witness support departments provide:

  1. emotional support;
  2. information on rights;
  3. technical and practical information for victims, witnesses and their family members;
  4. referrals to specialised civil society institutions and organisations depending on the needs of the victim/witness.

The victim and witness support departments of county courts provide:

VICTIM AND WITNESS SUPPORT DEPARTMENTS

Osijek County Court

Address:

Europska avenija 7, 31 000 Osijek, Croatia

Tel.:

031 228 500

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima@zsos.pravosudje.hr

Rijeka County Court

Address:

Žrtava fašizma 7, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia

Tel.:

051 355 645

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima-ri@pravosudje.hr

Sisak County Court

Address:

Trg Ljudevita Posavskog 5, 44000 Sisak, Croatia

Tel.:

044 524 419

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima-sk@zssk.pravosudje.hr

Split County Court

Address:

Gundulićeva 29a, 21000 Split, Croatia

Tel.:

021 387 543

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima-st@pravosudje.hr

Vukovar County Court

Address:

Županijska 33, 32000 Vukovar, Croatia

Tel.:

032 452 529

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima-vu@pravosudje.hr

Zadar County Court

Address:

Borelli 9, 23 000 Zadar, Croatia

Tel.:

023 203 640

Email:

Link opens in new windowpodrska-svjedocima@pravosudje.hr

Zagreb County Court

Address:

Trg N.Š. Zrinskog 5, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia

Tel.:

01 4801 062

The Independent Victim and Witness Service of the Croatian Ministry of Justice provides information on rights and emotional support in addition to specific information relating to victim and witness support. Support is also provided to victims and witnesses invited to give evidence in Croatian courts through the international legal assistance mechanism, and to Croatian victims and witnesses invited to give evidence in foreign courts through said mechanism. The Independent Service sends victims and witnesses information letters with contact information, and informs them of the offender’s release from prison (automatic and conditional release). It is also responsible for determining the level of financial compensation awarded to victims of crime.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

Depending on the type of organisation and its remit, various types of assistance and support are available: psychological, emotional, legal, practical, accommodation, medical, security, and in-court support.

More information and the list of these organisations by county is available on the website of the Link opens in new windowCroatian Ministry of Justice.

Twelve probation offices are in the process of being established in Croatia. The purpose is to add a human dimension to the enforcement of criminal sanctions, ensure a more efficient reintegration of offenders into society, and provide victims, injured parties and their respective families with assistance.

The National Probation Service will participate in preparations to resettle offenders in the community after they have been released from prison. This includes helping them to find accommodation and work and preparing them, as well as the victim(s), injured party(ies) and their family(ies), for the offender’s release. The Service also makes arrangements for the provision of psychosocial support to victims, injured parties and the victims’ and offender’s families.

Where the offender to be released is serving a sentence for a sexual offence, an offence against life and limb or a violent offence, the Probation Service is required to inform the victim(s), injured party(ies), and their family(ies) in an appropriate manner and without delay.

The contact details of individual probation offices and the Probation Department of the Ministry of Justice are available Link opens in new windowhere.

Victims of crime can contact the police by email Link opens in new windowpolicija@mup.hr or prevencija@mup.hr, or by dialling 192 (24/7) or +385 1 3788 111.

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Italy

You are considered the victim of a crime, ‘offended party’, if it is accepted that you hold a legal right that is protected by the criminal legislation which has been breached by an act that constitutes an offence under national law, i.e. that you have suffered the injury that forms part of the essence of the criminal act.

You suffer injury in civil law as a result of a crime when you suffer damage (material or non-material, but in any case damage that can be valued in financial terms) as a result of the crime. Usually, the offended party in criminal law and the injured party in civil law are the same, except, for example, in murder cases, where the victim is the person killed, while their family members are the injured parties and have the right to go to court and obtain compensation for the damage they have suffered.

The criminal law and the civil law provide a victim with various individual rights before, during and after the proceedings.

In Italy, criminal proceedings begin with preliminary inquiries. The police and the public prosecutor investigate the case. At the end of these inquiries, the public prosecutor may bring charges or ask the Judge in charge of preliminary inquiries to close the case. For some criminal offences proceedings may begin only if you, as the victim, submit a complaint to the police or prosecution service.

During the trial, the court examines the evidence gathered and establishes whether the defendant is guilty. Proceedings end when the defendant is sentenced or acquitted by the court, with the possibility of making an appeal to a higher court.

As the victim, you may play an important role in the criminal proceedings, and consequently there are a number of rights you may exercise. You may participate as a victim (offended party) without a specific legal status, or play a more active role by officially bringing a civil action against the offender.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor), but before I even report the crime?

The public prosecution service and the criminal investigation department (CID), upon being notified of the crime, must advise you that as the offended party you are entitled to appoint counsel to exercise the rights conferred upon you, and that you are entitled to access legal aid from the Italian State (Article 101 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure (Codice di procedura penale or c.p.p.)

Following first contact with the prosecuting authorities, you will be provided, in a language you can understand, with information relating to:

  • the procedures for filing a report or complaint, the role that you will play in the investigation and trial, your right to be made aware of the date and location of the trial, and of the charges, and, if you have joined proceedings as a civil party, your right to receive notification of the judgment, including as a summary
  • your entitlement to legal advice and legal aid, paid for by the Italian State
  • how to exercise your right to interpreting services and to translation of case documents
  • any protection measures that may be available to you
  • your rights recognised by law if you reside in a different EU Member State to the one in which the crime has been committed
  • how any expenses incurred as a result of participation in criminal proceedings will be reimbursed
  • the possibility of seeking compensation for injury or damage suffered as a result of the crime
  • the possibility of settling proceedings by withdrawal of the complaint or through mediation
  • the rights that you will have in proceedings where the defendant requests suspension of the proceedings with probation or in those in which exemption from punishment applies due to the trivial nature of the offence
  • health care facilities in the local area, residential facilities, refuges and shelters

(Article 90‑bis c.p.p.)

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

If you do not speak or understand Italian, you have the right to use a language known to you when filing a report or making a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s office at the district court of first instance (tribunale). In the same way, you have the right, upon request, to have the confirmation of receipt of your report or complaint translated into a language known to you (Article 107‑ter of the Guidelines for Implementation of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Disposizioni di Attuazione del Codice di Procedura Penale or disp.att.)).

If you are resident or domiciled in Italy, the Public Prosecutor will send reports or complaints relating to crimes committed in other Member States of the European Union to the Prosecutor General at the Court of Appeal (Corte di appello), so that he or she can transmit them to the competent judicial authority (Article 108‑ter disp.att.).

Please see also:

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

Following first contact with the prosecuting authorities, you will be provided, in a language you can understand, with information relating to:

  • your right to receive information relating to the status of proceedings, and of entries in the Official Registry of Reported Offences
  • your right to be informed of a request to close proceedings
  • how to challenge any violations of your rights
  • the authorities from which you can obtain information about your case
  • how any expenses incurred as a result of participation in criminal proceedings will be reimbursed

In proceedings for violent offences against the person, if you so request, you will immediately be informed, through the CID, of preparations for release or for the ending of a detention order, and you will also be informed in a timely manner, in the same way, if the defendant absconds from pre‑trial detention or from prison, and if he or she deliberately fails to comply with a detention order, unless this would place the offender at actual risk (Article 90‑ter c.p.p.).

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

The prosecuting authority will nominate a translator when a document needs to be translated into a foreign language or into a dialect that cannot be easily understood, or an interpreter when you want to or have to make a statement and you do not speak Italian. The statement can also be made in writing and inserted into the report, with the translation provided by a translator.

The authority will nominate an interpreter, of its own motion where appropriate, if you do not speak or understand Italian and your evidence needs to be heard, and in cases where you wish to participate in a hearing and have requested the assistance of an interpreter.

Where possible, the assistance of an interpreter can also be secured using remote communications technology, provided that the interpreter is not required to be physically present to enable you to properly exercise your rights or to fully understand the proceedings.

If you do not speak or understand Italian, you have the right to free translation of documents or parts thereof which contain information relating to the exercise of your rights. Translations may be provided in verbal form or in the form of a summary, if the prosecuting authority does not consider that this will prejudice your rights (Article 143‑bis c.p.p.).

If you do not speak or understand Italian, you have the right to use a language known to you when filing a report or making a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s office at the district court of first instance. In the same way, you have the right, upon request, to have the confirmation of receipt of your report or complaint translated into a language known to you (Article 107‑ter disp.att).

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

The prosecuting authority will nominate a translator when a document needs to be translated into a foreign language or into a dialect that cannot be easily understood, or an interpreter when you want to or have to make a statement and you do not speak Italian. 

If you are a minor, an expert opinion may be ordered by the judge, including of his or her own motion, if there is uncertainty about your age (it being understood that, in case of doubt, you will be presumed to be a minor for the purposes of applying procedural guidelines). The same expert report may also be used to determine if you have any disability.

Article 351(1-ter) c.p.p.

In proceedings for offences falling under Articles 572, 600, 600-bis, 600-ter, 600-quater, 600-quater.1, 600-quinquies, 601, 602, 609-bis, 609-quater, 609-quinquies, 609-octies, 609-undecies and 612-bis of the Italian Criminal Code, if the CID requires summary evidence from minors, it must seek the assistance of a qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist, nominated by the public prosecution service. The same applies where summary evidence is required from adults in a particularly vulnerable state. It is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, particularly vulnerable individuals will not have any contact with the person who is under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation.

Article 362(1‑bis) c.p.p.

In proceedings for crimes under Article 351(1‑ter), the public prosecution service must seek the assistance of an expert in psychology or child psychiatry when gathering evidence from minors. The same applies where summary evidence is required from adults in a particularly vulnerable state. It is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, particularly vulnerable individuals will not have any contact with the person who is under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation.

Article 498(4) to (4‑quater) c.p.p.

4. The examination of minors as witnesses, including the questions and objections of the parties, is conducted by the presiding judge. When conducting the examination, the presiding judge may seek the assistance of one of the minor’s relatives or a qualified child psychologist. After hearing the parties, if the presiding judge considers that the minor would not be distressed by direct questioning, he or she will order that the testimony proceed in the way outlined in the preceding sections. The order may be revoked during the course of questioning.

4‑bis If one party so requests, or if the presiding judge considers it necessary, the procedures outlined in Article 398(5-bis) apply.

4-ter In proceedings for offences falling under Articles 572, 600, 600-bis, 600-ter, 600-quater, 600-quinquies, 601, 602, 609-bis, 609-ter, 609-quater, 609-octies and 612-bis of the Italian Criminal Code, victims of the offence(s) who are either minors or adults with a mental illness will be questioned, at their request or at the request of their counsel, using mirror glass and an intercom system.

4‑quater. Without prejudice to the preceding sections, if the offended party is in a particularly vulnerable state and needs to be questioned, the judge, if either the victim or their counsel so requests, will order protective measures to be taken.

Article 398(5‑quater) c.p.p.
Without prejudice to section 5‑ter, if the offended party is in a particular vulnerable state and needs to be questioned, the provisions under Article 498(4-quater) apply.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Support is provided to victims of crime by the health care facilities in the region, by residential facilities, refuges, shelters and other facilities managed by local and regional organisations. Generally speaking, many regions have a network of associations consisting of local organisations, the public prosecutor’s offices, district courts and health services which offer free support to victims of any kind of offence.

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

Yes. Particularly if you are a victim of certain kinds of offence (for example, trafficking, family abuse, sexual assault), there are well‑established organisations in contact with law enforcement services which will provide you with information about refuges or residential facilities available to take care of you.

How is my privacy protected?

If you are particularly vulnerable, it is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, you will not have any contact with the person who is under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation.

In addition, Legislative Decree No 196 of 30 June 2003 (Personal Data Protection Code) contains specific rules for the processing of judicial data, aimed at protecting the confidentiality and security thereof. Aside from this, it is considered that once you, as a victim, assume the status of offended party in criminal proceedings, you will be required to give evidence in court. The code provides rules concerning the ways in which this must take place, which aim to prevent you having to repeat your evidence several times (pre-trial hearing - incidente probatorio) and rules which protect your right as a victim to have no contact with the party under investigation/the accused. If you are a victim under 18, your picture must not appear in newspapers, nor your name. The latter point also applies to victims aged 18 and over. The system aims to prevent the dissemination of your personal data and information that might identify you.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

Access to victim support services is not contingent upon having reported the crime.

Personal protection if I’m in danger

What types of protection are available?

Under certain circumstances, provided for by law (Articles 273 and 274 c.p.p.), which may indeed include, inter alia, the dangerous situation in which you as an offended party may find yourself (danger arising in particular from the possibility that the offender will continue to behave in an unlawful manner), the judicial authorities may order that the perpetrator be subject to supervisory measures. For example, he or she may be immediately removed from the family home; he or she may be prohibited from going to places you frequently visit, and he or she may be banned from living in certain places. Otherwise, he or she may be placed under house arrest or in pre‑trial detention.

You have the right to be informed of requests to revoke or replace the supervisory measures imposed on the offender, to submit statements of defence in opposition within two days, or to make your point of view known (Article 299 c.p.p.). You also have the right to be informed of court orders to change, revoke or replace the supervisory measures in place against the suspect.

Especially if you are particularly vulnerable, a minor or a victim of certain crimes, further procedural precautions may also be ordered, in particular:

  • if you are particularly vulnerable, it is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, you will not have any contact with the person who is the under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary;
  • if you are a minor and the CID requires summary evidence from you, it must seek the assistance of a qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist, nominated by the public prosecution service (Article 351(1‑ter) c.p.p.);
  • if you are a minor and the public prosecution service requires evidence from you, it must seek the assistance of an qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist. If you are particularly vulnerable, it is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, you will not have any contact with the person who is under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation (Article 362(1-bis) c.p.p.);
  • The examination of minors as witnesses is conducted by the presiding judge and he or she may seek the assistance of one of the minor’s relatives or a qualified child psychologist. (Article 498 c.p.p.);
  • If one party so requests, or if the presiding judge considers it to be necessary, where one of the parties who is to give evidence is a minor, the court may issue an order establishing the place, time and particular procedures for the pre-trial hearing, where this is necessary and appropriate for the protection of the persons involved. The hearing may take place somewhere other than the court of first instance, and the court may make use of specialised facilities, or, if these are not available, the home of the person giving evidence;
  • witness statements must be recorded in their entirety using phonographic or audiovisual media. If there is no recording equipment or technical staff available, expert reports or technical consultancy shall be provided;
  • in cases relating to violent crimes, victims of the offences who are either minors or adults with a mental illness will be questioned, at their request or at the request of their counsel, using mirror glass and an intercom system.

Who can offer me protection?

(See above)

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

Should special protection requirements arise, the law requires that victims of crime undergo individual assessment to determine if and to what extent they would benefit from special measures over the course of proceedings. Particular care will be taken if you are a minor and/or particularly vulnerable. It will be up to the judge to determine whether you will receive appropriate protection measures over the course of the criminal proceedings. During the investigation, your interviews must take place at suitable locations and be conducted by qualified professionals. If the victims include minors, the juvenile court must be informed in order to assess the situation and the protection measures. To protect you from further crimes, the court of first instance may place restrictions on the offender’s freedom (prison custody, ban on going to places you often visit, removal from the family home). The application of such measures must be communicated to you (Article 282-quater c.p.p.). You may also request that the judge, when ordering that the offender be removed from the family home, or subsequently, also orders the offender to pay a maintenance allowance (Article 282‑bis c.p.p.). The relevant provincial police headquarters (Questura) will have an office exercising similar powers.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

Victims of violent crimes, if they are minors or in a particularly vulnerable state, have the right to give evidence with protective measures in place. In particular, arrangements might be made to prevent you from coming into contact with the offender during the investigation or the trial. In addition, if you are particularly vulnerable, it will be possible to use audiovisual recordings of your statements, even where this is not absolutely necessary.

Guidelines for referral 
(Article 413 c.p.p.): Application by the individual under investigation or by the victim of the crime

  1. The individual under investigation or the victim of the crime may apply to the Prosecutor General to issue a referral order under Article 412(1) (if the public prosecution service will not prosecute the case or does not request closure within the deadline provided for by law or as extended by the judge).
  2. If referral is ordered, the Prosecutor General will conduct the necessary preliminary investigations and make any requests within thirty days of submission of the application, as provided for in Article 412(1).

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

A state of particular vulnerability in a victim may be inferred, other than from age and any physical infirmity or psychological deficiency, from the type of crime, and the procedures and circumstances of the case in question. In order to assess vulnerability, it will be taken into account whether the case involves a violent offence against the person or a racial hate crime, if it relates to organised crime or terrorism, including on an international level, or human trafficking, if it occurred as a result of discrimination, and if the victim is emotionally, psychologically or economically dependent on the offender (Article 90 quater c.p.p.).

If you are particularly vulnerable, audiovisual recordings of your statements will be permitted in any event, even where this is not absolutely necessary.

EVIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS IN SPECIFIC CASES ‑ In cases relating to offences of abuse against family members and partners, reducing to or keeping in slavery, child prostitution, child pornography, virtual pornography, tourism initiatives aimed at exploiting child prostitution, human trafficking, purchase and sale of slaves, sexual assault, aggravated offences, sexual acts with a minor, group sexual assault, solicitation of minors and stalking, if you are in a particularly vulnerable state and there is a request for you to give testimony, if you have already made statements during the pre-trial hearing or in a cross-examination hearing with the person against whom these statements are to be used, or if there are written records of your statements, you will be required to give testimony only if it relates to facts and circumstances different to those discussed in your previous statements, or if the judge or one of the parties considers it necessary based on specific requirements.

SUMMARY EVIDENCE - if the CID requires summary evidence from victims in a state of particular vulnerability, even if they are over 18, it must seek the assistance of a qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist, nominated by the public prosecution service. It is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, particularly vulnerable individuals will not have any contact with the person being investigated and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation (Article 351(1-ter)).

GATHERING EVIDENCE - if the public prosecution service requires summary evidence from victims in a state of particular vulnerability, even if they are over 18, it must seek the assistance of a qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist. It is guaranteed in each case that, where summary evidence is required, particularly vulnerable individuals will not have any contact with the person who is under investigation and will not be repeatedly called on to give summary evidence, unless this should prove absolutely necessary to the investigation (Article 362(1-bis)).

EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES: Your witness examination, including the questions and counter‑claims of the parties, will be conducted by the presiding judge. When conducting the witness examination, the presiding judge may seek the assistance of one of your relatives or a qualified child psychologist. The presiding judge, after hearing the parties, if he or she considers that you would not be distressed by direct questioning, will order that the testimony proceed in the way outlined in the preceding sections. The order may be revoked during the course of questioning (Article 498 c.p.p.).

If one party so requests, or if the presiding judge considers it necessary, the procedures outlined in Article 398(5-bis) shall apply (pre-trial evidentiary hearing, see below).

PRE-TRIAL EVIDENTIARY HEARING - (Article 398(5-bis)) If one party so requests, or if the presiding judge considers it necessary, the following procedures shall apply: in the case of investigations relating to offences of abuse against family members or partners, reducing to or keeping in slavery, child prostitution, child pornography, virtual pornography, tourism initiatives aimed at exploiting child prostitution, human trafficking, purchase and sale of slaves, sexual assault, aggravated offences, sexual acts with a minor, group sexual assault, solicitation of minors or stalking, if there are adults in a particularly vulnerable state among those giving evidence, the court may issue an order establishing the place, time and particular procedures for the evidentiary hearing, where this is necessary and appropriate for the protection of the persons involved. The hearing may take place somewhere other than the court of first instance, and the court may make use of specialised facilities, or, if these are not available, the home of the person giving evidence. Witness statements must be recorded in their entirety using phonographic or audiovisual media. If there is no recording equipment or technical staff available, expert reports or technical consultancy shall be provided. A written report of the examination, in the form of a summary, will also be prepared. A transcript of the recording will be made available only at the request of the parties.

If you are in a particularly vulnerable state and it is necessary to question you, the judge, if you or your counsel so request, will order protective measures to be taken (Article 498(4-quater) c.p.p.).

In proceedings relating to the aforementioned offences, the public prosecution service, including at your request or at the request of the person under investigation, may ask that you give evidence at the pre-trial hearing, even in cases where this is not indicated as being required. If you are in a particularly vulnerable state, the public prosecution service, including at your request, or at the request of the person under investigation, may ask that you give evidence at the pre-trial hearing (Article 392 c.p.p.).

Gathering of evidence requiring the participation of victims in a particularly vulnerable state may be carried out via the trusted procedure of a pre-trial hearing, an instrument that aims, inter alia, to prevent you suffering further harm (secondary victimisation) due to constantly being involved in the legal process.

LEGAL AID ‑ If you are a victim of offences relating to abuse of family members and partners, female genital mutilation, sexual assault, sexual acts with a minor, group sexual assault and stalking, you will always be entitled to free legal aid, even where your income is higher than the limit fixed by law for being entitled thereto. If you are a minor, the same applies if you are a victim of offences relating to reducing or keeping in servitude or slavery, child prostitution, child pornography, tourism initiatives aimed at exploiting child prostitution, human trafficking, purchase and sale of slaves and corruption of minors.

I am a minor. Do I have special rights?

(See above)

My family member died because of the crime - what are my rights?

If the victim of the crime is deceased, the closest relatives of the victim exercise the rights conferred on him or her by law.

(Article 90(3) c.p.p.).

My family member was a victim of crime - what are my rights?

(See above)

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

Criminal Mediation has its basis in Legislative Decree No 274/2000, which allows a victim to bring a direct action against the offender to claim compensation for their interests that have been prejudiced. This power is exercisable only in relation to crimes against which you can bring a complaint (less serious offences).

To initiate and conduct criminal mediation, the consent of the parties is needed in order to reach a satisfactory agreement. Throughout the course of proceedings, the justice of the peace must promote conciliation between the parties as far as it is possible. Crimes under the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace which by their very nature are suitable for mediation include: slander, libel, common assault, battery, minor personal injuries, vandalism.

In addition, the parties to the criminal proceedings or their counsels may apply directly to the Mediation Office in view of the alternative definition of criminal proceedings under the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace as provided for by Article 35 of Legislative Decree No 274/2000, or in view of a ruling that the offence has been extinguished due to compensatory measures taken by the offender.

For crimes in respect of which you may bring a complaint, you are permitted to apply for a summons requiring the individual suspected of committing the crime to appear before a justice of the peace. The application must be signed by you as the offended party, or by your legal representative, and by your counsel. Your signature is attested by your counsel. If you are a minor under the age of 14, mentally ill or incapacitated, the application must be signed by your parent, full guardian, limited guardian or special guardian. The filing of the application has the same effects as bringing a complaint (Article 21).

Filing the application: the application must be sent in advance to the public prosecution service by delivery to its secretariat, and is subsequently filed, by the applicant, with evidence of the aforesaid delivery, with the office of the clerk of the court for the local justice of the peace, within three months of reporting the crime. If you have already brought a complaint in respect of the same incident, you must mention this in the application, attach a copy of the complaint and file another copy with the secretariat of the public prosecution service. In this case, the justice of the peace will order the acquisition of the original complaint (Article 22).

Joining proceedings as a civil party If you wish to join proceedings as a civil party, you must do so, under penalty of forfeiture, when the application is filed. The reasoned request for compensation or damages contained in the application equates essentially to joining proceedings as a civil party (Article 23).

The application will be inadmissible:

  1. if it is submitted out of time;
  2. if it is filed in cases other than those provided for;
  3. if it does not contain the required information or is not signed;
  4. if the description of the incident or the identification of sources of evidence is insufficient;
  5. if there is no evidence that the public prosecution service has been informed.

Requests from the public prosecution service (Article 25): Within ten days of the application being filed, the public prosecution service will submit its requests to the office of the clerk of the court for the justice of the peace. If it deems the application to be inadmissible, or clearly unfounded, or presented before a justice of the peace with no jurisdiction in the region, the public prosecution service will not accept the summons, or else it will state the charge confirming or altering the accusation contained in the appeal.

Once the deadline has passed, the justice of the peace will proceed even if the public prosecution service has not submitted requests. If he or she does not consider the application inadmissible, or clearly unfounded, and within his or her jurisdiction, the justice of the peace will issue a decree summoning the parties to a hearing within 20 days of the application being filed.

An application submitted by one of several offended parties does not prevent the others from participating in the proceedings, with the assistance of counsel and with the same rights as the principal applicant. The offended parties involved may join the civil action prior to the declaration of the opening of the hearing. Should the hearing not be attended by the offended parties on whom the decree was properly served, this is equivalent to renouncing the right to bring a complaint, or to withdrawal of the complaint, if it has already been submitted.

Hearing before the court: At least seven days prior to the date scheduled for the hearing before the court, the public prosecution service or you as the offended party will file the writ of summons with the office of the clerk of the court for the justice of the peace with the relevant notifications.

The judge, when the crime is one against which a complaint may be brought, will promote conciliation between the parties. In this case, where it would be beneficial for the purposes of conciliation, the judge may defer the hearing for a period no longer than two months and, where necessary, may also use mediation measures provided by public or private centres and facilities in the region. In any case, statements made by the parties in the course of conciliation cannot be used in any way at all for the purposes of deliberation (Article 29).

Should a settlement be reached, a report shall be drawn up confirming the withdrawal of the complaint or the waiving of the application and the related acceptance. The waiving of the application has the same effects as withdrawing the complaint.

Mediation may lead to you withdrawing the complaint, which will result in a declaration that the case has been dropped due to a lack of a cause of action. Furthermore, a positive outcome of mediation, as it may lead to compensation for the damage caused by the crime, may result in a ruling that the offence has been extinguished as a consequence of the compensation provided by the offender prior to the hearing before the court or due to the minor nature of the offence.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

Rules for protection of victims can be found in the Code of Criminal Procedure, in Link opens in new windowLegislative Decree No 212 of 15 December 2015, implementing Directive 2012/29/EU on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, in Link opens in new windowLegislative Decree No 204 of 9 November 2007, in Link opens in new windowDecree No 222 of 23 December 2008 (implementing Legislative Decree No 204/2007), in Article 11 of Link opens in new windowLaw No 122 of 7 July 2016 ‑ European law 2015-2016 (compensation for victims of violent crime) and in a series of other regulatory measures relating to victims of particular kinds of crime.

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

  • A report is filed when an individual who has knowledge of a publicly actionable offence informs the public prosecution service or a CID officer about it. Reporting a crime is optional, but it becomes mandatory in several cases expressly provided for by law. The report contains the essential details of the incident, and indicates the day upon which you became aware of the offence and the sources of evidence already noted. In addition, it contains, where possible, the personal details, residence and anything else that may help to identify the person suspected of committing the crime, as well as your personal details as the offended party and the details of anyone else who may be able to provide relevant information to help establish what happened. If no useful details are given which might help to identify the person suspected of the crime, this does not prevent criminal proceedings from being launched, as you can file a report against persons unknown, which must be submitted to the relevant prosecutor’s office by the police authorities, along with details of any investigative measures carried out in order to identify the perpetrators of the crime.
  • A complaint is a statement by means of which an individual who has been a victim of crime (or their legal representative) expresses a wish that the offender be prosecuted. It relates to non‑publicly actionable offences. The statement must describe the offence committed and must express the clear wish of the complainant to proceed with the allegation and punish the guilty party. You may withdraw a previously filed complaint, except in cases of sexual assault or sexual acts with a minor. In order for the complaint to be dropped, the withdrawal must be accepted by the subject of the complaint who, if innocent, may instead wish to demonstrate by means of a trial that they had nothing to do with the crime.
  • A petition is filed to request the intervention of law enforcement authorities in disagreements between private individuals, and is submitted by one or both of the parties involved. Following a request for official intervention, the law enforcement officer invites the parties to a meeting in order to attempt conciliation and draw up a report. If it is established that a crime has been committed, the law enforcement officer must inform the judicial authorities, if it is a publicly actionable offence; if it is a crime actionable by means of a complaint, he or she may, upon request, undertake a preliminary settlement of the dispute, which does not prejudice your subsequent right to bring a complaint.

Reports, complaints and petitions must be filed at the offices of a branch of the law enforcement authorities (provincial police headquarters, local police stations and offices of the military police (Carabinieri)). A report or a petition may also be filed with the public prosecutor.

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

After you have filed a report, you will be provided with information relating to: the authorities you can contact if you wish to obtain information about the case, the role that you will play in the investigation and trial, your right to be made aware of the date and location of the trial and of the charge, and, if you join proceedings as a civil party, your right to receive notification of the judgment, including as a summary. In addition, you may receive updates about the status of proceedings and of entries in the Official Registry of Reported Offences; you will be advised of any request to close the case, how to challenge any violation of your rights; and you can settle the case by withdrawing the complaint, where possible, or through mediation (Article 90‑bis of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Codice di procedura penale or c.p.p.)).

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

Following first contact with the prosecuting authorities, you will be provided, in a language you can understand, with information relating to your entitlement to legal advice and legal aid, paid for by the Italian State (Article 90-bis). You may submit an application for State-funded legal aid pursuant to the regulations provided in the law on aid for the underprivileged (Article 98 c.p.p.). You may also have access to State-funded legal aid if your income does not exceed the limit provided for by law. In order to be eligible for State-funded legal aid, you will need to submit the relevant application to the court of first instance, in the period immediately following the filing of the report. Upon completion of the first stage of proceedings which the defence counsel has the right to attend, and, in any case, before the invitation to come in for questioning, or, at the latest, at the same time as notification that preliminary investigations have been concluded, the public prosecution service must notify the individual under investigation in writing that he or she has been appointed a defence counsel by the court, or any subsequent acts will be null and void (Article 369‑bis c.p.p.).

This notification must contain:

a) the information that it is obligatory to have professional counsel for the defence in criminal proceedings, with information about the rights conferred by law upon an individual under investigation;

b) the name of the court-appointed defence counsel, his or her address and telephone number;

c) information about the accused’s right to nominate his or her own defence lawyer, with the advice that, if he or she does not do so, he or she will be represented during the investigation by the court-appointed counsel;

d) the indication that he or she will have to pay their court-appointed defence counsel, if he or she does not meet the requirements to obtain State-funded legal aid, and the warning that should he or she be declared insolvent, enforcement proceedings will be commenced;

d-bis) information relating to the right to an interpreter and to translation of important documents;

e) information relating to requirements to be eligible for State-funded legal aid.

Free legal aid is an institution based on the right to defence enshrined in Article 24 of the Italian Constitution, on the basis of which anyone has the right to assistance at any stage and at any level of the justice system, and allows persons in financial difficulties not only to obtain, at the expense of the State, the assistance of a lawyer and of specialists, including technical consultants, but also not to have to pay court costs. Free legal aid is available for criminal cases and civil cases connected to criminal cases, for supplementary actions like criminal enforcement, security, prevention and surveillance proceedings, and lastly for civil cases originating from criminal proceedings.

Eligibility to access free legal aid is not available to Italian citizens alone, but also to foreign nationals, even if when they are subject to administrative expulsion proceedings, are not resident in Italy or are stateless persons living in Italy.

All parties to the proceedings may apply for free legal aid, but if you are a victim of certain sexual offences the income limits stipulated by law will not apply.

The State also protects minors, who can obtain free legal aid, as can persons who are the subject of preliminary investigations if they are arrested, detained or subject to pre-trial detention measures.

In order to be eligible for free legal aid, your income must not be greater than the maximum fixed in law, equivalent to EUR 11 369.24, taking account of an increase for every other person living with you of EUR 1 032.90.

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

Free legal aid, an institution based on the right to defence enshrined in Article 24 of the Italian Constitution, allows anyone who meets the requirements (relating to circumstances of financial hardship) to assistance at any stage and at any level of the justice system,, from a lawyer and from specialists, including technical consultants, at the expense of the State; it also allows for exemption from paying court costs.

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

If you file opposition to a request to close the case, you are asking for preliminary investigations to continue. You must indicate the subject of the further investigation and corresponding items of evidence, or the opposition will be declared inadmissible. If your opposition is inadmissible and the notice of the offence is unfounded, the judge will order by reasoned decree that the case be closed, and return the documents to the public prosecution service. If the request is not accepted, the judge will fix a date for a hearing in chambers, informing the public prosecution service thereof, for you and for the person under investigation. The judge will also inform the Prosecutor General at the Court of Appeal (Corte di Appello) that the hearing has been scheduled. Following the hearing, the judge, if he or she considers further investigations to be necessary, will indicate this by means of an order to the public prosecution service, setting a non-negotiable deadline for these investigations to be completed. If the judge does not accept the request for the case to be closed, he or she will order the public prosecution service to formulate a charge within ten days. Within two days of the charge being issued, the judge will issue a decree to schedule the preliminary hearing.

If you are a victim of a violent crime against the person, in addition, you will always have the right to be informed if there is a request for the case to be closed, even if you do not explicitly request to be told, and you will have 20 days from receiving this notification to view the documents and to present a reasoned application for preliminary investigations to be continued (Article 408(3-bis) c.p.p.).

Can I be involved in the trial?

As the victim of the crime, you may nominate a counsel to exercise the rights conferred upon you. To make sure that you receive the communications to which you are entitled by law, and to exercise specific rights, you must declare and indicate an address for service. You must also communicate any change in this address during the course of the criminal proceedings. If you have nominated counsel, you will not need to provide this information, as all notifications will be sent to him or her.

You have the right to file pleadings and to indicate items of evidence, both during the investigation stage and during the trial (Article 90‑bis c.p.p.). You can also check the entries in the Official Registry of Reported Offences (Article 335 c.p.p.). You must be informed when expert assessments, which cannot be repeated, are complete (Article 360 c.p.p.). You also may make a request to the public prosecution service for collection of evidence in the pre-trial hearing. You may ask to be notified of any request to defer the investigations or to close the case, both immediately when making the report or subsequently. You must specifically ask to be informed of a request to defer the investigations (Article 406 c.p.p.) and of a request to close the case (Article 408 c.p.p.). When a trial is held, you have the right to be informed of the place, date and time of the first hearing; for subsequent hearings, you will not be notified and you must obtain the adjournment dates yourself from the court of first instance. You are not obliged to attend the hearings, other than when you give your evidence. Once the investigations have been concluded, you have the right to see all the documents relating to the case and to make copies thereof. However, while investigations are still ongoing you may not do this, as a rule, although the public prosecution service can authorise it if there are specific reasons for interest.

When a criminal trial is held and you have been affected by the crime committed, you can ask for compensation and to participate in the trial, by joining proceedings as a civil party.

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

The victim, as the person affected by the crime, has all of the rights indicated above. In addition, you may be heard as a witness in the trial and, if you have the right to compensation for damage caused by the crime, you may bring a civil action in the criminal trial by joining the proceedings as a civil party.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

Without prejudice to what is set out above in relation to your rights and interests as the offended party, if you also act as a witness, the following rules apply:

As a witness, you must appear before the judge and follow the instructions given to you by him or her regarding procedural requirements, and respond to questions addressed to you truthfully. You are not obliged to reveal anything that may lead to a criminal prosecution against you. Should it happen that on the day of the hearing, a problem arises which makes it impossible for you to attend, you must make this known in good time, indicating the reason for your absence. In this case, if the judge deems your absence to be justified, he or she will issue a further summons for a subsequent hearing. If you are summonsed several times and do not appear, without giving a legitimate reason, you may be given a compulsory escort and you might also be obliged to pay a fine to the Fines Office (cassa delle ammende) and the costs incurred by your failing to appear, within the meaning of Article 133 c.p.p. You are obliged to respond to questions addressed to you truthfully. Article 372 c.p.p. makes provisions to punish witnesses who refuse to respond, make false statements or do not state what they know. If you are unwilling or uncooperative as a witness, you may be punished by a prison sentence. A witness cannot be detained during a hearing. If you withdraw a false statement, or confirm the truth, before the judgment is pronounced, you cannot be charged with a crime. No punishment will be incurred if you give false testimony in order to save yourself or a close relative from a criminal conviction (Article 384 c.p.p.).

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

You, as the victim of the crime, may also appear as a witness. Your statements may be used as evidence to convict the accused, if when subject to scrutiny they have both objective and subjective credibility. The judge may freely evaluate your testimony and it may even be your evidence alone which forms the basis for the conviction of the accused. You must tell the truth, although you are not obliged to incriminate yourself (the right to silence). Close relatives of the accused are not obliged to appear as witnesses, unless they themselves file the report or complaint, or in cases where they or a close relative are the victim of the crime that is the subject of proceedings. You can also refuse to answer questions that may reveal a professional secret. If you make statements during the preliminary investigations, you may be entitled to various protective measures.

What information will I receive during the trial?

(See above)

Will I be able to access court files?

The public prosecution service will immediately enter, in the appropriate register held by its office, notice of any crime of which it has been made aware, or which it has discovered of its own initiative, and at the same time, or as soon as it is available, the name of the person who is suspected of committing the crime. If, in the course of the preliminary investigations, the legal characterisation of the incident changes, or details prove to be different, the public prosecution service will update the entries. The entries will be communicated to the person accused of the crime, to you as the victim and to the respective counsels, if so requested. When a request is made for information regarding entries in the Official Registry of Reported Offences, the secretariat of the Public Prosecutor will provide the information requested, if such entries have been made and there is nothing to prevent a response. Otherwise, it will declare that there are no entries about which information may be provided. If there are specific requirements relevant to the investigations, the public prosecution service, upon deciding whether to grant the request, may order, by virtue of a reasoned decree, that the entries remain secret for a period of no longer than three months, and which cannot be extended (Article 335 c.p.p.).

The public prosecution service, if it is not going to request that proceedings be closed, when the case concerns abuse of family members and partners or stalking, will also notify your legal representative, or, if you do not have one, you yourself, that the preliminary investigations have been concluded (Article 415-bis c.p.p.).

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

Only a victim who has joined proceedings as a civil party has an autonomous right to appeal, and this is in any case limited to the protection of your own civil interests.

Pursuant to Italian Law No 46/2006, a civil party no longer has a general right to appeal; you may only appeal to the Court of Cassation (Corte di Cassazione).

You may file an appeal in the following cases:

  • against aspects of the conviction which relate to the civil action;
  • against an acquittal ruling regarding civil aspects of the case only;
  • against aspects of the ruling concerning your own right to damages and costs.

What are my rights after sentencing?

In terms of review, if you, as a victim, joined as a civil party the trial that has concluded in the judgment of which you wish to request a review, you are entitled, once the hearing stage has begun, to intervene regarding the admissibility of the request itself. This applies even in cases where you have brought an extraordinary appeal against a plea‑bargained sentence, it being acknowledged in a special judgment that it is possible to request and obtain a ruling that the offender refund legal fees.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

Legislative Decree No 9 of 11 February 2015 lays down rules for implementing Directive No 2011/99/EU, which is based on the principle of mutual recognition and regulates the European protection order to guarantee that measures adopted to protect a person against a criminal act, which might harm that person or endanger their life, their physical or mental health, their dignity, their personal freedom or sexual integrity, are maintained even in the event of that person moving to another Member State. The Directive specifies that a European protection order may only be issued when a protection measure has been previously adopted in the issuing State, imposing on the person causing danger one or more of the following prohibitions or restrictions: a prohibition from entering certain localities, places or defined areas where the protected person resides or visits; a prohibition or regulation of contact with the protected person; a prohibition or regulation on approaching the protected person closer than a prescribed distance. Upon receipt of a European protection order, the competent authority of the executing Member State must, without undue delay, recognise that order and adopt any measure that would be available under its national law in a similar case in order to ensure the protection of the protected person.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

Once deliberations have been concluded, the presiding judge will draft and sign the operative part of the judgment and a concise summary will be drawn up of the reasons in fact and law upon which the judgment is based. The judgment will be made public at the hearing with a reading of its operative part. Reading of the statement of grounds and of the operative part of the judgment is equivalent to notification of the judgment for the parties present at the hearing or that should be there. The judge will hand down a conviction if the accused is guilty of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt. With the judgment, the judge will detail the sentence imposed and any measures of prevention (misure di sicurezza). If the convicted offender is insolvent, the judge will order his or her civil representative to pay the financial penalty. In addition, the judgment will order the convicted offender to pay the trial costs. The publication of the conviction in newspapers will be ordered by the judge upon request of the civil party and will take place at the expense of the convicted offender, and if necessary also of his or her civil representative.

The judgment will contain:

  1. the heading ‘in nome del popolo italiano’ [‘in the name of the Italian people’] and an indication of the authority that issued it;
  2. the personal details of the offender and other personal information which serve to identify him/her and general details of other private parties to the case;
  3. the charge;
  4. an indication of the submissions of the parties;
  5. a concise explanation of the reasons in fact and law on which the decision is based, with an indication of the evidence forming the basis of the decision and an explanation of the reasons why the judge considers the contrasting evidence to be unreliable;
  6. the operative part, with an indication of the articles of statutes applied;
  7. the date and the signature of the judge.

The judgment will be filed at the office of the clerk of the court after publication. If it is not published within thirty days, or, subject to another deadline, not exceeding 90 days of it being issued, notification that the judgment has been handed down is communicated to the public prosecution service and to the private parties that have a right to appeal, as well as to the offender’s defence counsel when the judgment is handed down.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

Article 90-ter of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Codice di procedura penale) establishes that, for violent crimes against the person, you must be immediately informed, if you have so requested, of preparations for release or for the ending of a detention order, and if the defendant absconds from pre-trial detention or from prison, and if the sentenced offender deliberately fails to comply.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

It is not general practice to consult the victim before making these decisions.

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

The commission of a crime and a subsequent conviction means that the offended party can claim damages. Italian law provides two ways for you to obtain compensation for the damage you have suffered:

  • You can join the criminal proceedings against the offender as a civil party.
  • You can bring an independent civil action.

This is your choice, as the legislation leaves the two proceedings separate: the criminal proceedings and the civil proceedings.

Only after a request that the case be committed for trial, or committal for trial (at a hearing), may you, assisted by your counsel, join a civil action and thus become an effective party to the proceedings, with full rights of representation. When sentencing, the criminal court will award you a sum, the so-called interim award, which is immediately enforceable, referring the decision about the total and final amount of compensation to a civil court, to be fixed only after the criminal judgment has become res judicata.

As an alternative to joining proceedings as a civil party, you can bring an independent civil action to request compensation for damage suffered as a result of the offender’s behaviour.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

When the court orders the offender to pay compensation for injuries or damages caused to a victim who has joined proceedings as a civil party, it can do one of three things: settle the damages, make a general order for compensation or order payment of an interim sum. 
The best thing for the victim is if the judgment orders final settlement of the damages: in that case, in fact, it is possible to inform the offender of the judgment and the order for payment (atto di precetto - a payment notice which must be issued prior to starting enforcement proceedings), thus ordering the payment of the amount owed, and taking the first step necessary for issuing enforcement measures in the event of persistent failure of the offender to pay (in which case it is always advisable to conduct preliminary inquiries about the assets that might be claimed).

Unless the award of compensation was stated to be expressly provisionally enforceable, enforcement is conditional upon the judgment not being overturned, that is to say upon no appeal being filed within the deadline.

The order for payment, therefore, can be communicated along with the judgment, including in cases where the latter orders the payment of an interim award, which, moreover, is always declared to be immediately enforceable. However, this will not always be satisfactory in the eyes of the victim. Therefore, if you consider it insufficient, you must bring an independent civil action, by means of which any residual damage can be ascertained and a new, different penalty imposed upon the offender.

Civil proceedings are always necessary in the third possible scenario, where the criminal court merely issues a general order for the offender to pay compensation, without fixing an amount, due to there being a lack of sufficient evidence in this regard.

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

The State, on the basis of Directive 2004/80/EC, implemented in Italy by means of the provisions stated above, must guarantee to citizens and non-nationals who are victims of violent intentional crime (murder, GBH with intent, sexual assault), committed on Italian territory, fair and appropriate compensation, every time that the offender is not identified, or is not brought to justice, or, in any case, does not have the financial resources to compensate victims for the damage he or she has caused them, or, if the victim has died, to their families.

Am I entitled to compensation from the State?

(See above)

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

If the defendant is found to be innocent in criminal proceedings, this does not prevent you from bringing an action for compensation in the civil courts, unless you renounced this right by joining the criminal proceedings as a civil party.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while I wait for the decision on my compensation claim?

If you join the criminal proceedings as a civil party to request repayment and compensation for damage, upon issuing the judgment the court will also rule on the civil aspects of the case, pursuant to Article 533 c.p.p. In cases in which there is evidence that damage was suffered as a result of the crime (an debeatur) but not how much (quantum debeatur), the court will issue a generic ruling in relation to civil responsibility and remit the parties to a civil court for the amount to be settled (Article 539 c.p.p.). A civil party, however, can ask the criminal court for an interim award, within the limits of the damage already substantiated by evidence. The provisional ruling, more precisely, will order the offender and his or her civil representative to pay a sum by way of compensation for damages in advance of the definitive calculation thereof, and this is immediately enforceable. It is an instrument which, at your specific request, provides justification for ordering the offender to pay an interim sum, when the court considers that there is already concrete evidence of liability, limited to the amount in respect of which the interim sum is awarded; in fact, even in criminal proceedings, ‘it is not necessary, for the purposes of calculating the interim sum, to provide evidence of the amount of damage itself, but it is sufficient that it is certain that such damage occurred, up to the sum awarded (Court of Cassation criminal division, No 12634/2001).

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of crime, who do I contact for support and assistance?

Following first contact with the prosecuting authorities, as the offended party you will be provided, in a language you can understand, with information relating to: the health care facilities in the local area, residential facilities, refuges and shelters. If the victims include minors, the juvenile court must be informed, in order to assess the situation and the protection measures. If you so request, the law enforcement authorities have the duty to put you in contact, at any time, with the following organisations:

  • victim support services
  • specialised legal support authorities
  • Bar councils (Consigli dell’Ordine)
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • legal clinics ‑ forensic medicine departments
  • state authorities involved in legal support (Ministry of Justice, Interior Ministry)

Victim support organisations

non-governmental organisations ‑ Associations involved in providing legal support to victims of crime

  1. trade unions: Italian General Confederation of Labour (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro; CGIL) - Italian Confederation of Workers' Trade Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori; CISL) ‑ Italian Labour Union (Unione Italiana del Lavoro; UIL)
  2. Libera association [anti-mafia organisation] - 0832 683429‑683430
  3. Women's refuge Rome - 06 6840 172006
  4. consumer associations
  5. National network of associations for the rights of elderly people (Associazioni per i Diritti degli Anziani; ADA) - 06 48907327
  6. Dafne network (support for victims of violence) - 011 5683686

Anti-trafficking Helpline - 800 290 290

Anti-violence Helpline - 1522

Anti-discrimination Helpline - 800 90 10 10

Helpline for victims of genital mutilation - 800 300 558

Helpline for victims of terrorism and organised crime - 06.46548373 - 06.46548374 - 06.46548375

Helpline for victims of crimes related to the mafia - 800 191 000

Helpline for victims of extortion and usury - 800-999-000

Helpline in all languages to report incidents of discrimination and racism - 800 90 10 10

Emergency Helpline for minors - 114

Is victim support free?

Victim support is free.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

Crimes committed with violence can have traumatic effects on the victim, and as such you may seek assistance from the appropriate public services provided by the local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale; ASL), such as family advice centres (consultorio familiare), and by the local municipality (social services). If the victims include minors, the juvenile court must be informed, in order to assess the situation and the protection measures. If you so request, the police authorities (military police (Carabinieri), state police, municipal police, etc.) have the duty to put you in contact, at any time, with the following organisations: Some refuges have safe houses in which, in more serious cases, you may be housed to escape further violence. In order to obtain information and/or get in contact with refuges in your area, you may also call the freephone number 1522, run by the Italian Prime Minister’s Office. If you are in personal difficulties, you can also request assistance from a support administrator (Amministratore di Sostegno), an individual who works under the direction of the Guardianship Section of the Civil Court and has the responsibility of assisting individuals, free of charge, who find themselves in difficulties, including temporary difficulties, to provide for their needs. You can submit a request directly to the Civil Court or explain your difficulties to the social services of the local municipality, so that they can inform the public prosecution service’s civil affairs office, which may order action on your behalf.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

Non‑governmental organisations provide different kinds of support, including psychological support, temporary accommodation in facilities such as refuges, legal support and advice, material support, providing necessities, etc.

Last update: 05/07/2018

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.

Rights of victims of crime in criminal proceedings - Cyprus

You are considered the victim of a crime if you have suffered harm (e.g. if you have been injured or if your personal property has been damaged or stolen, etc.) as a result of an incident which constitutes an offence according to national law. According to the law, you have certain individual rights as a victim of a crime before, during and after the proceedings.

In Cyprus, criminal proceedings begin with a police inquiry into the crime. Once the inquiry is finished, the case is referred to the Attorney-General of the Republic who decides whether to initiate criminal proceedings. If there is sufficient evidence against the alleged perpetrator, the Attorney-General will refer the case to court for trial. Once it has examined the evidence gathered, the court will decide whether the defendant is guilty and either sentence or acquit him/her.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

Link opens in new window1 - My rights as a victim of crime

Link opens in new window2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

Link opens in new window3 - My rights after trial

Link opens in new window4 - Compensation

Link opens in new window5 - My rights to support and assistance

Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

1 - My rights as a victim of crime

What information will I get from the authority (e.g. police, public prosecutor) after the crime occurred but before I even report the crime?

The Police will inform you, without undue delay, of your right to obtain the following information on:

  1. The Police Station or Police Department where you can file a complaint;
  2. The type of support you can receive and from whom, including, where relevant, basic information regarding access to medical support, any specialist support, including psychological support, and alternative accommodation;
  3. how and under what conditions protection is provided , including protection measures;
  4. how and under what conditions you may claim compensation;
  5. how and under what conditions expenses incurred as a result of participation the criminal proceedings can be reimbursed;
  6. how and under what conditions you are entitled to interpreting and translation services;
  7. the procedures available for filing complaints where your rights are not respected by the department involved;
  8. the contact details of the Police officer handling your case, for communication purposes.

I don’t live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

If you are resident in another Member State, the Cyprus Police will obtain a deposition from you right after you report the crime, in order to limit difficulties pertaining to how the procedure is organised.

If the crime was committed in the Republic of Cyprus and you are resident in another Member State, you can report it to the competent authorities of your Member State of residence, in so far as you are unable - or, in the case of a felony - unwilling to do so in Cyprus.

If you file a complaint for a crime committed in another EU Member State to the Cyprus Police, the latter must forward such complaint to the competent authority of the Member State where the crime was committed, where it does not have jurisdiction to initiate proceedings.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

When you report a crime to the Police, you will obtain the following information, depending on what stage of the procedure your complaint is at:

  1. the details of the police officer handling your case;
  2. any justified decision not to proceed with or to end an investigation or not to prosecute the offender;
  3. the time and place of the trial, and the nature of the charges against the offender;
  4. information enabling you to be briefed on the course of the criminal proceedings. In exceptional circumstances, where the proper handling of the case may be adversely affected by disclosing such information, it may be withheld following a reasoned opinion of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus.
  5. Information about your right to be informed if the person remanded in custody, prosecuted or convicted for the crime related to you is released or has escaped. The above information may be withheld if there is a potential or established risk of harm for the offender.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

If you wish to report a crime but you are unable to understand or speak Greek, you can file a complaint in a language you do understand, with the necessary linguistic assistance.

Furthermore, the Police must ensure that you are offered:

  • free interpreting services during the investigation if you do not understand or speak Greek;
  • free translation of all information collected during the investigation, at your written request, to the extent that such information is essential for you to exercise your rights.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

  • The Police will use simple and comprehensible language to communicate with you, taking into account your personal situation, including any disability which may affect your ability to understand or to be understood. Communication, both oral and written, shall be in a form accessible to people with disabilities, including, where necessary, Braille or sign language.
  • If you are a minor under the age of 18, you will be evaluated based on your age, maturity level, views, needs and concerns, to ensure that you can understand and be understood. Your parent, guardian or other legal representative will be informed of any rights that may concern you.
  • At your first contact with the Police, you may be accompanied by a person of your choice, save where this is detrimental to your interests or to the course of the proceedings. If you are a person with disabilities, you may be accompanied by a person of your choice throughout the investigation of the case.

Moreover, if you are a minor, information will be supplied to you by the Social Welfare Services (through an interpreter, where necessary) in a language which you understand and with due regard to your age and maturity level. If you are a person with a disability, you will receive information in a way you can understand (e.g. in sign language).

Victim support services

The following organisations provide victim support services:

  • Medical Services,
  • Social Welfare Services,
  • Mental Health Services,
  • Educational Psychology Service at the Ministry of Education and Culture,
  • Non-Governmental Organisations

The Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Employment, Welfare and Social Security offer support to vulnerable groups, including victims of crime, by:

  • supporting the family, with a view to enabling its members to fulfil their roles and responsibilities effectively; resolve family disputes that threaten family unity; protect the safety and welfare of children; prevent delinquent behaviours and domestic violence and encourage the rehabilitation of persons involved in anti-social behaviour and delinquency;
  • supporting vulnerable groups;
  • helping local communities identify and handle the specific needs of vulnerable groups;
  • putting victims in contact with other competent authorities and NGOs that are able to provide additional services and support.

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

The Police will refer you to governmental or other support and assistance services, if this is considered necessary, and will inform you about the existing services mentioned above:

How is my privacy protected?

Police officers must comply with the requirements of the Constitution, the applicable legislation and the Police Code of Conduct, which ensure that your privacy and family life will be respected and your personal data adequately protected.

According to the law, your name and the contents of your deposition may under no circumstances be publicised or howsoever disclosed.

Data processing is governed by special legislation, which ensures the protection of your personal data.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

Yes. After you file a complaint with the Police, the Social Welfare Services will ensure that you are offered free support services, according to your needs, including services from NGOs capable of offering special support.

Personal protection if I'm in danger.

The Police will take all steps necessary to protect your safety, especially where special protection needs are established. Thus, depending on the nature/circumstances of the criminal offence, your personal situation and any special protection needs, specific protection measures may be applied in various phases of the criminal proceedings, as follows:

(1) Victim integration in witness protection schemes, subject to supervision and control by the Attorney General

By decision of the Attorney General, you may be integrated in a witness protection scheme, involving Police measures to protect your personal safety as well as the safety of your family, where necessary.

(2) Victim protection during criminal investigation:

During the criminal investigation:

  • You will be interviewed by the Police without undue delay right after you file a complaint;
  • The number of interviews is kept to a minimum and interviews are only conducted where this is imperative for the purposes of the criminal investigation;
  • You may be accompanied by your legal representative or a person of your choice, unless a reasoned decision has been made to the contrary in relation to either or both persons;
  • Medical examinations are kept to a minimum and are carried out only where this is imperative for the purposes of the criminal proceedings.

(3) Right to protection of victims with specific protection needs during criminal proceedings:

If you are identified as a victim with specific protection needs, the following options are available to you:

  • All interviews are carried out on premises designed or adapted for that purpose;
  • All interviews are carried out by professionals adequately trained for that purpose;
  • All interviews are carried out by the same person, save where this contravenes the effective administration of justice, and
  • If you are a victim of sexual violence, gender-based violence or violence in close relationships, your interviews shall be conducted by a person of the same sex as you, if you so wish, provided that the course of the investigation is not prejudiced.

In particular:

If you are a victim of domestic violence:

  • no disclosure of the personal information in your deposition shall be allowed;
  • you may be referred to a shelter operated by the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family;
  • the court may order the defendant's detention until the case is referred to court, or his/her release, on the condition that he/she will not visit or harass any members of his/her family in any way.

If you are an underage victim of sexual abuse:

  • your personal information shall not be disclosed in your deposition;
  • The Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Employment, Welfare and Social Security will take all steps necessary to protect your safety, if your interests conflict with those of your parents.

If you are a victim of human trafficking and exploitation:

  • no disclosure of the personal information in your deposition shall be allowed;
  • Your case must be reported to the Social Welfare Services by any government official who is aware of your situation - the Social Welfare Services must inform you of your rights;
  • You are entitled to protection without discrimination, irrespective of your legal status or any cooperation you may have with the Police.

Who can offer me protection?

The Police are primarily responsible for offering you protection. If necessary, the Police will cooperate with other competent bodies of the public or private sector to ensure that you are effectively protected.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

The Police will assess your case in order to:

(a) identify any specific protection needs, and

(b) determine whether and to what extent you would benefit from special measures in the course of the criminal proceedings due to your particular vulnerability to secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation.

An individual assessment shall be carried out with your close involvement and shall take into account your wishes, including your wish not to benefit from special measures.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

Individual assessment includes an assessment of your exposure to the risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, so as to exclude all possibility of you sustaining secondary and/or repeat victimisation by the bodies of criminal justice.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

Very vulnerable victims are offered the following types of protection:

(1) Victim integration in witness protection schemes, subject to supervision and control by the Attorney General.

By decision of the Attorney General, you may be integrated in a witness protection scheme, involving Police measures to protect your personal safety as well as the safety of your family, where necessary.

(2) Victim protection during criminal investigation:

During the criminal investigation:

  • You will be interviewed by the Police without undue delay right after you file a complaint;
  • the number of interviews is kept to a minimum and are only conducted where this is imperative for the purposes of the criminal investigation;
  • you may be accompanied by your legal representative or a person of your choice, unless a reasoned decision has been made to the contrary in relation to either or both persons;
  • the required medical examinations are kept to a minimum and are carried out only where this is imperative for the purposes of the criminal proceedings.

(3) Protection of victims with specific protection needs during criminal proceedings:

If you are identified as a victim with specific protection needs, the following are available to you:

  • all interviews carried out on premises designed or adapted for that purpose;
  • all interviews carried out by professionals adequately trained for that purpose;
  • all interviews carried out by the same person, save where this contravenes the effective administration of justice; , and
  • if you are a victim of sexual violence, gender-based violence or violence in close relationships, interviews shall be conducted by a person of the same sex as you, if you so wish, provided that the course of the investigation is not prejudiced.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

If you are a minor, your best interests are protected, which are assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration your age, maturity level, views, needs and concerns.

As a minor you have some additional rights:

  • throughout the proceedings, you can be accompanied by your parents or by an officer of the Social Welfare Services, if you are in the care of the Social Welfare Services.
  • if you are a victim of domestic violence, a complaint may be filed on your behalf by the Social Services Director of the Social Welfare Services, and all measures necessary for your safety can be applied.
  • if you are a victim of sexual abuse, a complaint may be filed on your behalf by any government official and all measures necessary for your safety can be applied.
  • if you are unaccompanied, you will be placed in the care of the Director of Social Welfare Services and will have access to your rights, e.g. your right to education, health services etc. as well as your right to family reunification.
  • Right to Privacy.-The Police will take all lawful measures necessary to prevent public dissemination of any information that could lead to your identification.
  • Specific protection needs. The Police:
    • must ensure that investigation and criminal prosecution proceedings are conducted irrespective of whether you or your representative has made a formal complaint, and that the criminal proceedings can be continued even if your withdraw your deposition;
    • continue prosecution even after you reach majority;
    • may record your interviews, as part of the investigation.

During interviews, you may be accompanied by your legal representative or by an adult of your choice, unless a reasoned decision has been made to the contrary with respect to that person.

Interviews will be carried out:

  • without unjustified delay, from the moment the incidents are reported to the Police;
  • where necessary, on premises specifically designed or adapted for that purpose;
  • where necessary, by or through a professional who is properly trained for that purpose;
  • only to the extent necessary for the purposes of the criminal investigation/proceedings whereas the number of interviews will be kept to a minimum;
  • in case of sexual abuse, interviews will be carried out by trained professionals who are the same sex as the child.

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

You may seek support from the following victim support services:

  • State Medical Services,
  • Mental Health Services,
  • Social Welfare Services,
  • Educational Psychology Services (in the case of a minor);
  • The Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family - operates a special hotline (1440) (for victims of domestic violence);
  • NGOs engaged in victim support activities.

The law allows you to file a claim for damages against the offender. You may also address the Social Welfare Services to obtain information about your right to claim damages.

My family member was a victim of crime – what are my rights?

You may seek support from the following victim support services:

  • State Medical Services,
  • Mental Health Services,
  • Social Welfare Services,
  • Educational Psychology Services (in the case of a minor);
  • The Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family - operates a special hotline (1440) (for victims of domestic violence);
  • NGOs engaged in victim support activities.

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

In Cyprus there is no legislative framework governing mediation services.

Where can I find the legislation governing my rights?

The legislation governing your rights is

  • The 2000-2015 Domestic Violence Act (Prevention and Victim Protection) .
  • The 2014 Act on Prevention and Control of Sexual Abuse, Child Sexual Abuse and Child Pornography.

You can access the legislation governing your rights through the Cyprus Bar Association website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cylaw.org/

Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

2 - Reporting a crime and my rights during the investigation or trial

How do I report a crime?

You may file your complaint at any Police Station. The Police will investigate your case as soon as you file a formal complaint and provide a written deposition.

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

You can obtain information on the progress of your case from the Police officer (investigator) who is assigned your case. Once your case has been referred to court, you may obtain information about the course of the proceedings from the Legal Division officer who is handling your case in court.

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

You can obtain free legal aid for proceedings included in the Law on the Supply of Free Legal Aid, in the context of proceedings relating to particular types of human rights violations.

“Proceedings relating to particular types of human rights violations” means any:

(a) Civil proceedings pending before a court of law, at any stage, initiated against the Republic of Cyprus for damage that was inflicted upon a person as a result of particular human rights violations, or

(b) criminal proceedings initiated by any person, where the claim relates to particular types of human rights violations.

The form of legal aid available under the aforementioned Law:

(a) consists in counselling, assistance and representation services, in the case of civil proceedings initiated in the Republic of Cyprus or in the case of criminal proceedings, and

(b) consists exclusively in counselling, in the case of civil proceedings initiated outside the Republic of Cyprus.

The human rights protected under the aforementioned Law are those secured under:

(a) Section II of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus;

(b) The 1962 Act ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights;

(c) The 1967-1995 Acts ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

(d) The 1969 Act ratifying the International Covenants (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Civil and Political Rights);

(e) The 1989 Act ratifying the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

(f) The 1990 and 1993 Acts ratifying the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

(g) The 1985 Act ratifying the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

(h) The 1990 Act ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Free legal aid is available to:

  • any person who is a victim of human trafficking, in the context of proceedings before a District Court for the award of damages by virtue of the Act on the Prevention and Handling of Human Trafficking and Exploitation and Victim Protection;
  • any minor who is a victim of human trafficking, in the context of proceedings pending before a District Court for the award of damages by virtue of the Act on the Prevention and Handling of Human Trafficking and Exploitation and on Victim Protection;
  • any minor who is a victim of solicitation for sexual purposes, child pornography, sexual exploitation and/or sexual abuse, in the context of proceedings pending before a District Court for the award of damages by virtue of the Act on Prevention and Control of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography.

Moreover, any child who is a victim of any of the criminal offences described in the Act on Prevention and Control of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography, irrespective of whether he/she is willing to cooperate with the prosecution authorities for the purposes of criminal investigation, prosecution or trial, has direct access to free counselling under the Lawyers Act, at any phase of the proceedings, as well as to free legal aid in case he/she lacks the necessary resources, irrespective of the provisions of the Act on Legal Aid.

Where the child victim has the right to a representation, he/she may receive legal advice and be appointed a legal representative who acts on their behalf, in proceedings where there is, or there could be, a conflict of interest between the child victim and the holders of parental responsibility.

Any person who is a victim of any of the crimes described in the Act on Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking and Exploitation and on Victim Protection, irrespective of whether he/she is willing to cooperate with the prosecution authorities for the purposes of criminal investigation, prosecution or trial, has direct access to free counselling under the Lawyers Act, as well as to free legal aid in case he/she lacks the necessary resources, in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Legal Aid.

In order for free legal aid to be provided, a written request needs to be filed to the Court before which your case is pending for trial. The Court may issue a free legal aid order, on the basis of:

(a) A socio-financial report of the Welfare Office, describing your financial situation and that of your family, your regular income or any other income originating from your employment or from any other sources, your standard living expenses and those of your family, and any other liabilities or needs you may have;

(b) The severity of the situation or any other circumstances, so as to determine whether it would be in the interest of justice to grant you free legal aid in preparing and handling your case.

Legal aid beneficiaries have a right to select the lawyer who will offer them free legal aid, among those willing to offer these types of services, as per the applicable laws. If a beneficiary fails to appoint a lawyer of his/her own choice, the Court will appoint a lawyer from a list prepared by the Cyprus Bar Association, as per the applicable regulations.

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

The Republic of Cyprus will reimburse you for all expenses provided for in the Law. Information about how and under what conditions you can claim expenses is available at the District Prosecution Divisions of the Police Force.

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

You can request a reasoned decision from the Police, if investigation or prosecution did not proceed or has been terminated.

Can I be involved in the trial?

You may participate in the trial as a witness for the prosecution and testify before the Court which hears the matter.

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

In the context of criminal proceedings, your role is that of a witness for the prosecution. If you file a claim for damages against the offender, you take the role of a plaintiff in the civil proceedings concerned.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

As a witness for the prosecution, you are obliged to testify before the Court which hears the matter. If you have filed a claim for damages, you can obtain information about your rights and obligations from the lawyer who is handling your case before the Civil Courts.

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

In the course of any proceedings in which you are a witness for the prosecution, you may read and adopt the deposition you have made to the Police or submit the evidence you have made available to the Police during the investigation. If you wish to make a statement or testify anything in addition to your original deposition or to the evidence you have made available to the Police, you should consult the director of the Legal Division which is handling your case at the Court.

What information will I receive during the trial?

During the trial, the Prosecutor will inform you as to when and how hearing sessions are to take place and the nature of the charges pressed against the offender. You may also request to be informed of any final rulings rendered in the course of the proceedings.

Will I be able to access court files?

You have no right to access any court files.

Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

3 - My rights after trial

Can I appeal against the ruling?

You have no right to appeal against the ruling rendered by the court at first instance. The Attorney General of the Republic has the right to appeal.

What are my rights after sentencing?

A sentence may be utilised by your lawyer if you file a claim for damages against the offender.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

You are entitled to post-trial support and/or protection for a reasonable period of time, depending on your needs at that particular moment.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

Upon request, you may be informed by the Police about the sentence that was imposed on the offender by the Court.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

Upon request, you may be informed:

(a) if the person remanded in custody, prosecuted or convicted for a crime that concerns you is released from or has escaped detention;

(b) any relevant measures issued for your protection in case of release or escape of a person remanded in custody, prosecuted or sentenced for crimes which concern you.

It is pointed out that the above information may be withheld if there is a potential or established risk of harm for the offender.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

You have no right to become involved in any release or parole decisions concerning the offender.

Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

4 - Compensation

What is the process for claiming damages from the offender? (e.g. court case, civil claim, adhesion procedure)

You have the right to bring a court case against the offender for the offence that was committed against you. You may also contact the Social Welfare Services to obtain information on your right to claim damages.

Minors under the age of 18 have a right to file a claim for damages against all parties liable, for the crimes provided for in the Act on Prevention and Control of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography and for human rights violations. The offender bears the respective civil liability to pay compensation for all specific or general damages incurred by the victim(s).

Any person who is a victim within the meaning of the Act on Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking and Exploitation and on Victim Protection has a right to file a claim for damages against all parties liable, for any criminal offences committed against them according to the aforementioned Act as well as for human rights violations. The offender bears the respective civil liability to pay compensation for all specific or general damages incurred by the victim(s), including any arrears owed to the victim(s) as a result of their forced employment.

The court ordered the offender to pay me damages/compensation. How do I make sure the offender pays?

If the offender fails to pay you the amount of damages awarded by the Court, you can address the Court, through your lawyer,, which shall issue an order to the offender to pay the damages awarded; if the offender fails to comply, they shall be instantly arrested and imprisoned

If the offender does not pay, can the state pay me an advance? Under what conditions?

The Law does not provide for any advance to victims by the state.

Am I entitled to compensation from the state?

Compensation may be provided by the state in the form described in the 1997 Law on Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes (Law 51(I)/97), to victims of violent crimes or their dependants, if:

(a) The victim or his/her dependants are unable to obtain compensation from the offender for any reason, and

(b) No compensation is available from other sources or such compensation is smaller in amount than that provided for in the above Law:

The compensation under the aforementioned Law is payable even in cases where the offender may not be prosecuted or sentenced:

If compensation available from other sources is less than that prescribed in the above Law, the State pays the difference.

The Law also lays down the circumstances where compensation is denied and further determines what the amount of payable compensation includes.

“Violent crime” means any crime committed with intent in the Republic of Cyprus, which involves violence and causes death, severe bodily damage or ill health as a direct result, including any of the following criminal offences, provided that they cause the aforementioned results:

Premeditated murder: (Articles 203 and 204), Attempted murder: (Article 214), Rape: (Article 144), Attempted rape: (Article 146), Kidnapping: (Article 148), Kidnapping of a female person under the age of 16 years: (Article 149), Acts intended to cause severe bodily damage: (Article 228), Severe bodily damage: (Article 231), Attempted bodily damage through use of explosives: (Article 232), Malevolent use of poison: (Article 233), Injury: (Article 234), Assault causing bodily damage: (Article 243), Other assaults: (Article 244), Crimes against personal liberty: (Articles 245-254), Arson: (Article 315).

A request for compensation as per the aforementioned Law must be submitted to the Director of the Social Security Services within a reasonable period of time, in any case within two years after the bodily damage / ill health / death was caused, as applicable.

The request shall be accompanied by a police report, a medical certificate and any other documents that may be useful for its assessment. The Director of the Social Security Services may request such additional evidence as may be required, at his/her discretion, including evidence that no compensation has been or will be paid from any other sources, including a sworn declaration by the applicant.

Am I entitled to compensation if the offender is not convicted?

The award of compensation to the victims is not conditional upon the offender’s conviction. The Court renders a ruling as to the award of damages in the context of the proceedings regarding the claim for damages, which is clearly distinct from the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Am I entitled to an emergency payment while awaiting the ruling on my claim for damages?

You may not receive an emergency payment since the law does not provide for such a payment .

Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

5 - My rights to support and assistance

I am a victim of a crime who do I contact for support and assistance?

The Police………199/1460

The State Hospital First Aid Services

The District Welfare Services

The Educational Psychology Service

The Mental Health Services

A victim support helpline

Non-Governmental Organisations

The following helplines are available in the Republic of Cyprus:

1460 - Citizen hotline

1440 - Domestic Violence hotline

1498 - Drug Information and Assistance helpline

116111 - Child and juvenile support helpline

116000 - Cyprus Hotline for Missing Children

Is victim support free?

Victim support provided by governmental agencies and NGOs is free of charge.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

You can receive the following types of support from state services:

  • Healthcare services from the Medical Services
  • Psychological Support from Mental Health Services and the Educational Psychology Service
  • Protection from the Social Welfare Services, on the basis of warrants issued against the offender and/or victim protection warrants
  • Adoption of special police measures during the investigation, to prevent repeat victimisation
  • Effective police protection to prevent intimidation or retaliation by the offender and/or any other persons
  • Court measures during the hearing , to protect victims with special protection needs (e.g. children, victims with psycho-social disabilities).

If you are a victim of domestic violence, a child victim of sexual abuse or a victim of human trafficking, the Social Welfare Services will inform you of your rights and will offer you support. They will also put you in contact with all competent state agencies and NGOs which will handle your case and offer you support. If your interests conflict with those of your parents, the Director of the Social Welfare Services will take all steps necessary to protect you.

What types of support can I receive from non-governmental organisations?

You can receive the following types of support from non-governmental organisations:

  • Psychological support;
  • Accommodation in victim support shelters.
Last update: 03/07/2018

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.

Please note that the original language version of this page