As a victim of crime you can become a party to the criminal proceedings according to the law. You can also enter the proceedings during the trial in the role of victim or witness.
After the court receives the indictment or a proposed agreement about guilt and sentence from the prosecution it will deliver it to you and your representative. You will be informed about the next development in the case, including the date of court hearings. You have to be informed about the date and the place of the court hearing at least three days prior to the hearing.
You have the right to be present throughout the trial proceedings of the first court instance, as well as throughout the public hearing of the appeal court. As a party to the criminal proceedings you have the right to be present at the non-public trial as well.
If you do not have the status of a witness, you have no obligation to be present at the trial. If you are not present at the trial, the court will decide on the reimbursement of the damages according to your previous oral or written statements.
You, as a party to the proceedings, and your representative, have the right to question the offender and the witnesses. Usually, the judge asks the questions first, followed by the prosecution or defence lawyer, the accused and finally you or your representative.
You have the right to make a final statement at the final stage of the trial.
You have access to the file of the criminal proceedings except the report that contains data on the identity of any protected witness or undercover agent and the data on court voting. You have the right to make excerpts and notes from the file and to have duplicates of the file or parts of it made at your own expense. Your representative has the same rights as you.
You can be represented during the trial by any natural person, lawyer or victim support organisation authorised by you. If you have restricted legal capacity because of age or illness, your parent or guardian can represent you. The guardian is appointed by the court. If the conditions for the free legal aid are fulfilled the court appoints an attorney to represent you.
If you are called for an interview as a witness you have to go to court and take part in the hearing. You are allowed to refuse to be interviewed if you are a relative of the charged person, adoptive parent, adoptee, spouse or common-law spouse. You have the same right if the testimony could bring danger to you or to the persons mentioned above or to other persons to whom you are related by family or similar ties and whose harm you would justly perceive as your own.
If you have the role of a witness, the expenses related to your testimony are reimbursed by the State budget. The reimbursement includes expenses for travelling, accommodation, or expenses incurred in accompanying a handicapped person. You need to claim the costs within three days of examination or after receiving a notice that the examination is cancelled. If at this stage, you have been granted legal aid, the costs of the attorney are reimbursed by the State budget.
If you are a minor your parent or guardian will represent you during the trial.
If you are under 15 years of age and you are interviewed as a witness of crime, your examination shall be conducted with utmost consideration, with the participation of an education specialist or a person with expertise in juvenile education and with the help of technical equipment for the transmission of sound and images. Every effort will be made to complete the interview in a single session. Your examination can also be recorded by using special technical equipment for recording and transmitting sound and images.
If you are younger than 18 years your personal data should not be disclosed.
If you claim damages and do not have sufficient resources to cover the expenses, you can apply for free legal aid. Free legal aid will be provided by an attorney and paid by the State if it is necessary for the protection of your interests. It is recommended that you give a concrete description of your situation, e.g. monthly income, monthly expenses, and description of your property in general.
Certain NGOs provide assistance by accompanying you to the court hearing. Generally, the NGOs can provide services free of charge in the following areas:
If you do not speak the official language (Czech), you have the right to use an interpreter through the whole criminal proceedings, including the trial proceedings.
If you witnessed the offence being committed, you will get strong protection. If you are in danger you may ask to give testimony without the offender being present. The presiding judge is obliged to provide the necessary measures to protect your security and identity (if needed) in the following situations:
It is also possible to read the minutes of the examination provided in the investigation stage if the prosecution and defence agree to read the minutes beside the examination at trial and if the court does not consider your examination at the trial as necessary.
If you as a witness are in danger, you can also benefit from the right to protect your identity. In this case, your personal data cannot be disclosed to the public. According to the prescribed conditions in law (especially for cases of terrorism and organised crime) you can apply at the police or prosecution to get special measures of Physical Security Programme, as well as to participate in the Programme for Witness Protection, managed by Ministry of Interior. The special measures are address change, identity change, physical security, etc. If your relatives, who have status of witnesses in criminal proceedings are in danger, they can benefit from the same rights.
Your personal data should not be disclosed if you are a victim of trafficking in persons (TIP), pornography or other crime against health, life, liberty, human dignity or against youth and family. If you are a TIP victim you can benefit from the right to anonymous accommodation and therapy or health care under the Support and Protection Programme for TIP victims, managed by the Ministry of Interior.
You need to submit a claim for damages with reasoning and specification of the exact amount of damages required at the main court hearing before any evidence has been given, at the latest.
The claim for damages may concern damage to health or property, or other damage. The criminal court will decide on your claim.
If your claim, however, was not successful or was partly successful in the criminal proceedings, you have the opportunity to claim for reimbursement of the damages before the civil court. The civil proceedings start upon your petition. In these proceedings you can apply for free legal aid if you do not have sufficient resources to cover the expenses.
If the offender is convicted, the court may order him/her to pay to you all costs incurred to you during the criminal proceedings. These costs will serve the as effective enforcement of your claim for reimbursement of your damages. It means that the court will inquire if the costs have been necessary for the enforcement of your rights.
Parallel to claiming damages from the offender you may also claim compensation from the State. State-provided compensation is “one-off” financial compensation for persons to whom damage to health was caused. You need to claim compensation by writing to the Ministry of Justice, which is the competent decision-making body. Your application needs to be submitted within one year from the moment when you were aware of the damage caused by the crime. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in the Czech Republic (available in English, Czech and multiple other languageshttp://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/comp_crime_victim/comp_crime_victim_mlt_mt.htm) of the European Judicial Network.
The conciliation can be applied in the trial stage. It can be provided in cases of less serious criminal offences. The main conditions are: if the offender pleads guilty, if the offender reimburses the damage done, and if the offender pays a certain amount for charity.
If you are a foreigner and you have suffered a crime in the Czech Republic you have all the rights explained above. In addition, if you do not speak Czech, you can use your mother tongue or another language that you understand. Therefore, the interview can be held in another language than Czech and it will be translated. Your written statements will also be translated into the Czech language. If it is important to record something verbatim, that will also be recorded in the foreign language.
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