You can also join proceedings as a so-called civil party. You need to submit an application to the court. The court will examine your application and decide whether to allow you to become a civil party. As a civil party you can attend all court sessions, even those that are non-public.
Your rights during the trial are different depending on which court will hear your case:
During the trial it is recommended, although not obligatory, to use the assistance of a lawyer, for whose services you have to pay. You will also have to pay for all other expenses related to your participation in the trial (e.g. travel expenses, non-paid leave, etc.). Maltese law does not provide for reimbursement of such expenses.
Your lawyer will be allowed to check all the documents in the case file and make notes or ask for copies of documents. However, if your case is heard at the Criminal Court with the participation of a jury access to the case file will be granted only to the Attorney General, the alleged offender and his/her lawyer.
During the trial you will probably be called for an interview as a witness. You will receive a notification about the time and place of the interview. The notification will be handed to you by a police officer or sent by post. You are not obliged to go to the interview but you are recommended to do so, because if the court believes your testimony is important it will take measures to ensure your appearance at the next session.
You are not obliged however to answer any question or produce any document or other exhibit which may tend to incriminate you.
In certain cases you may be:
If you are a child under 16 years of age and you have to be interviewed in a court hearing you can ask to be interviewed by videoconference. In this case you will not have to go to the court and be present in the courtroom.
If as a child you are dependent on the alleged offender (e.g. the offender is your parent) you will be placed in a safe environment, usually within a facility of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, where you will receive help from social workers and psychologists.
As a child you can also receive assistance from the national social welfare agency for children and families in need Appogg. Assistance may include psychological counselling, social assistance, advice, etc. These services are free of charge and are not related to the criminal proceedings.
Legal aid free of charge is not available to victims during the trial.
If the offender has not been arrested and you are afraid of him/her you or your lawyer can ask the police officer in charge of your case to ban him/her from approaching you. The police officer will then ask the court to issue such an order. When the court issues the order it will ask the offender to pay a certain amount of money (usually between 100 and 2.300 euro) as a guarantee. If the offender violates the court order he/she will not receive back this sum.
If you have been called for an interview during the court hearing and you feel you are in danger you can ask to be interviewed without having direct contact with the offender. The court can do this by screening you from the offender (e.g. by a non-transparent curtain) or by conducting the interview via videoconference without your presence in the courtroom.
You can also ask the police officer in charge of your case to place you under a witness protection programme. You have to declare that you will testify against the offender during the court hearing. If the police officer is convinced that your testimony or other evidence you have are important for the case he/she will ask the Attorney General to place you under a witness protection programme. The programme may also cover members of your family and other relatives. It usually consists of measures that ensure your personal safety and/or protect your property.
According to Maltese law you are allowed to claim damages from the offender only by submitting a civil claim before a civil court. There are no opportunities to claim damages in the framework of the criminal proceedings.
Nevertheless, the court hearing your case may in certain cases order the offender to compensate you for the damages caused. This may happen on two occasions:
If you have suffered from a violent crime that occurred since 1 January 2006 you can apply for financial compensation from the State. Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Malta (soon to be available in English and Maltese) on the European Judicial Network pages.
There are no opportunities to reach conciliation or start mediation between you and the offender during the trial. However, if for some reason you no longer want the offender to be prosecuted (e.g. you have forgiven him/her) you can make such a statement before the court during the hearing. The court will take your statement into account when it makes its decision on the case.
If you are a foreigner you have all the rights explained above. Maltese law does not provide for interpretation or translation of documents free of charge during the trial. However, you can use the assistance of an interpreter if you pay for his/her services.
If you reside abroad you can be interviewed as a witness through telephone conference or videoconference. Also, if you have to receive a document abroad, a copy of it will be sent to you by post in a language you understand, accompanied by an explanation of your rights and obligations in relation to that document and the way you can obtain the original.
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