If you are not a party to the proceedings, you will be notified about the date and time of the hearing only if you have requested this information during the preliminary investigation.
When a prosecutor has launched a prosecution, you may support the prosecution at any time during the proceedings and then you will become a party and will have almost the same procedural position as the prosecutor (you can for example present your own evidence). If you have a claim for damages you also become a party at this stage.
If you are a party in the proceedings you have the right to be present throughout the trial proceedings, even if the trial is not public.
You may be called to appear in court if the prosecutor has asked that you be heard or if you have lodged a claim for damages. You will receive a notification about the date and time of hearing and be told what acceptable reasons there are for not appearing in court. If you are ill or if you have some other valid reason for not appearing in court, you must notify the court as soon as possible before the hearing. The court will then tell you whether or not your presence is required. If you fail to appear without a valid reason you risk being fined.
If you are a party in the proceedings, you have the right to present your claim during the trial. After that you will be questioned by the prosecutor and the accused person (or his/her lawyer) without taking an oath. You or your legal counsel (1) can, if you are a party, also cross-examine the accused person, witnesses and expert-witnesses. At the end you will also have the opportunity to give a final speech.
If you feel that you need support during the hearing, you have the right to be accompanied by a support person. You can have both a legal counsel and a support person if you like. You can choose someone you already know or you can ask the social services or one of the victim support centres or women’s shelters - Women’s and Girl’s Shelters in Sweden, Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR), etc.
If you have been invited to appear in court at the request of the prosecutor, you have the right to be reimbursed for expenses you have incurred in order to come to court. The reimbursement can be granted for: travel costs, accommodation and loss of income (a maximum amount of SEK 700 per day). There is no deadline to apply for reimbursement.
As a victim of crime, you will not be interviewed as a witness but as a party. Thus, you do not have a duty to answer or to speak under oath. This applies throughout the criminal procedure.
As a minor you may have the right to your own legal counsel (1) which is appointed by the court and is free of charge. In some cases you can have the right to a special legal representative (2) if a person responsible for looking after you, generally a parent, is suspected of having committed a crime against you or if the suspect has a close relationship with the person responsible for looking after you.
If you as a child have witnessed a crime, which would typically be assumed to harm your confidence and trust in a person with whom you have a special relationship, you may be entitled to compensation from the State. For instance, you may have witnessed one parent being assaulted or threatened by the other or by some other person close to you.
Legal assistance may be given in several different forms.
Legal advice can be provided by a lawyer’s office concerning all types of cases and lawsuits. Such a consultation must not exceed two hours. The fee you have to pay for consultation is fixed and currently amounts to SEK 1 506 per hour. The fee may be reduced depending on your financial circumstances.
If you are a victim of a crime of a sexual nature or violence in close relationships you may have the right to your own legal counsel (1), which is appointed by the court and is free of charge. A legal counsel may under certain conditions be appointed for you in other situations as well.
A legal counsel is obliged to assist you if you have claims for damages. If a legal counsel has not been appointed for you, the public prosecutor may in some cases be able to assist you concerning damages claims.
If the public prosecutor is not able to assist you concerning claims for damages or if you need help in negotiations with an insurance company, you can contact a lawyer’s office in order to hire a legal representative. If you have insurance including a legal expenses clause, you have to make use of your insurance in order to cover the costs for legal representation. If you do not have a legal expenses clause in your insurance, and it is not deemed that you ought to have had such a clause, you may be granted legal aid provided that an income check shows that you are eligible for such aid. In that case, part of your costs for legal representation will be covered by the State.
Both an insurance policy with a legal expenses clause and legal aid may also cover the costs of providing evidence, travel and accommodation as well as other costs. Information about how to apply for legal aid is available from any lawyer’s office, court of law or the National Legal Aid Authority.
If you have a mental or physical disability or illness you have the right to a trustee in charge of your assets and interests. The trustee is appointed by the court and is usually a layman. He or she may also be a relative.
If you are not satisfied with the processing of a case, you may file a report to the Ombudsman of Justice who has the task of ensuring that public authorities and their staff comply with laws and other statutes governing their actions.
Court hearings are usually open to the general public. If you are afraid to speak in the presence of the accused person, you need to notify the court, the prosecutor or your legal counsel, preferably well in advance of the court hearing. The court may then decide, for instance, that the accused person must sit in another room while you are being heard. However, the accused person is entitled to listen to your statement via a loudspeaker. If you are afraid of a person sitting in the public gallery, the court can rule that he/she must go out while you are being heard.
If your case is of a very sensitive nature (e.g. a sexual offences or an offence committed by a young offender), the court may decide that it will hold a non-public hearing and only certain persons will be allowed to stay in the courtroom.
If you and/or your relatives are threatened, there are a number of measures intended to improve your and their safety:
The police and the National Tax Board can also give practical advice on how you can make everyday life safer.
You can claim compensation from the accused person for all damages and injury incurred as a result of the crime. As a rule, a claim for damages is examined by the court simultaneously with its assessment of whether or not the accused is guilty of the crime.
You can claim damages from the person who has committed the crime and caused the injury or damage. If you wish to do so, you need to tell the police when they question you; you can also say that you want the prosecutor to help you with your claim. To facilitate this, the prosecutor must prepare and present your claim for damages at the hearing if you so request. Exceptions will only be made if the question of damages requires extensive investigation or if the claim is clearly unjustified (e.g. it is either not related to the crime or is much higher than is normal in similar circumstances). If you have your own legal counsel (1) he/she will help you with your claim. If the prosecutor does not present your claim for damages and you do not have a legal counsel, you can present your claim by yourself.
Often it is not possible to get the damages you are entitled to from the accused person, either because he/she is unknown or is unable to pay. If you do not have an insurance policy that fully covers the injuries, you can sometimes get compensation from the State known as criminal injuries compensation. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Sweden (available in English, Swedish and other languages) of the European Judicial Network, or turn directly to the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority, which is the authority responsible for handling applications of criminal injuries compensation
There are no opportunities for you to reach a settlement between the accused person and yourself in relation to the public prosecution. You can however reach a settlement as regards your claim for damages.
If you reach a settlement with the offender about a certain sum that otherwise, according to established practice, would be considered too low, you may not receive the surplus amount from an insurance company or the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority as compensation from the State.
There is also a possibility for you to resort to mediation with the accused when:
Mediation may take place at any stage of the judicial procedure and is arranged by the local authorities. Mediation means that the accused person and the victim, with the participation of a mediator, meet to discuss the crime committed as well as the effects of that crime. Mediation, however, offers no possibility of reaching a settlement between the accused and the victim.
If you are a foreigner and you have suffered from a crime in Sweden you have all the rights explained above. In addition, if you do not speak Swedish, you are entitled to free assistance from an interpreter during the hearing. You also have the right to have certain documents translated free of charge.
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