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Victims' rights - by country

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?

You as civil claimant (1), private prosecutor (2) and subsidiary prosecutor (3) may appeal against a sentence or if the defendant is declared not guilty. Two types of appeal are available to you depending on your role in the proceedings and on the reason for the appeal.

An appeal may involve alleged mistakes in the interpretation or application of the law and alleged essential mistakes of the main proceedings (called appeal for nullity”) or it may concern the determination of the penalty or civil law claim (“appeal”).

If the court acquits the defendant it will forward your civil claim to a civil court. You as civil claimant or subsidiary prosecutor may appeal for nullity if your civil claim was forwarded to a civil court and it is evident that the denial of a motion to take evidence had negatively affected the court’s decision on your civil claim.

You as civil claimant or subsidiary prosecutor may appeal if in case of a conviction the court forwards your civil claim to a civil court, even though it would have been well-founded and justified.

As a private prosecutor you have two options. If the defendant is acquitted at first instance you may file an appeal for nullity. If the defendant is convicted you have an appeal if you do not agree with the penalty and if the court refers your compensation claim to the civil court.

If you were not present at the hearing when the court announced its decision you can examine the file to find out if the defendant was found guilty or not. The sentence must provide reasons that are handed out in written form and signed by the judge within four weeks after the pronouncement.

If you have participated in the trial as civil claimant, subsidiary prosecutor or private prosecutor and you want to appeal against the court’s decision you have to state your intention within three days of the announcement of the decision. After you state your intention to appeal you will receive a copy of the court decision. You have to submit your appeal within four weeks of the announcement of the court’s decision.

You can apply for legal assistance and representation free of charge to file your appeal. If necessary this can include translation free of charge. It has to be granted by the court if the legal assistance is necessary and if your income is not enough to pay for the legal representation without endangering subsistence.

Is further appeal possible?

A case can only be appealed once. The Austrian criminal procedure only has two instances.

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

After the sentence enters into force you will not be given any information actively by the authorities.

Information about the release of the offender will neither be given nor be visible in the file you may inspect.

Regarding a prison sentence a new, separate file of imprisonment will be opened and you as victim, civil claimant, private or subsidiary prosecutor cannot gain access to this file.

The right to victim assistance services (4) ends after the final judgement.

More information:

  • Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung) – in German
  • Penal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) – in German
  • Act on Enforcement Procedures (Exekutionsordnung) – in German

1. Civil Claimant:
To become a civil claimant it is necessary to submit a declaration. The declaration has to comprise the exact estimate of the loss caused by the crime in financial terms and justification. During the investigation the declaration has to be addressed to the police or the public prosecutor. It can be handed in written form or made orally. During the trial the declaration has to be submitted before all the evidence is compiled and before the court closes the main proceeding for sentencing.
As a civil claimant you will have the following additional rights:
· to request the collection of evidence that may serve to convict the offender or to justify the claim for compensation;
· to appeal against the court’s decision to close the case.

2. Private Prosecutor:
Some less serious crimes are not prosecuted by the public prosecutor, but by the victim himself/herself. If you are a victim of such a crime the trial could start only if you lodge a complaint before the court. By lodging a complaint you will become a private prosecutor. There will be no investigation stage and you as a private prosecutor will have to prove all the facts essential for a conviction and cover the costs in case the alleged offender is acquitted.

3. Subsidiary prosecutor:
To become a subsidiary prosecutor you have to be or to become a civil claimant and to declare the subsidiary prosecution. If the offender is a young person as defined by law, subsidiary prosecution is excluded.
You can become a subsidiary prosecutor by a declaration. If the public prosecutor drops the proceedings during a court hearing, you need to declare immediately whether you were summoned in due form. If you have not followed the summons or do not declare the subsidiary prosecution, the offender will be found not guilty.
If the public prosecutor drops the proceedings outside a court hearing or if you as a civil claimant have not been summoned, the court has to inform you. You will then have one month for the declaration of the subsidiary prosecution.
When you continue the prosecution instead of the public prosecutor the latter can have access to the information regarding the court proceedings and may decide to undertake the prosecution again. In this case you can continue to be involved in the trial but in a position of a private party.

4. Victim assistance services:
If you are a victim of a deliberate act of violence or dangerous threat or your sexual integrity may have been violated you have a right to victim assistance services. Assistance is also available to you if you are a close relative of a person who died because of the crime or you are a relative who has witnessed the crime.
Victim assistance services include psychosocial support, which includes accompanying you to the police and to court for your interview and preparation for the trial.
Victim assistance services are provided by established specialised victims’ protection organisations (such as child protection centres, counselling centres or intervention centres). The members of staff are social workers, psychologists or comparable professionals with additional – obligatory – legal training regarding criminal proceedings.
Victim assistance services also include the legal services, including legal aid and representation before the authorities. Lawyers in cooperation with established specialised victims’ protection organisations provide these services.
The Federal Ministry of Justice funds the victim assistance services.
Last update: 03/02/2021

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