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What Are My Rights During Criminal Proceedings

Domestic violence is a crime. Once you report to the police about violence, the police will launch the pre-trial investigation. During the investigation the officers will establish all the important circumstances of the case. Later on, these circumstances will be assessed by the court.

During the pre-trial investigation and the court proceedings, you will have a victim status. The police investigator and the prosecutor will grant the victim status by passing on the decision.

As a victim you have the following rights: 

  • Request police orally or in writing to launch pre-trial investigation due to violence against you. 
  • Receive a written confirmation that your report (complaint) has been received.
  • Receive the notification in writing about the launched pre-trial investigation or about the refusal to launch it with the indicated grounds and the appeal procedure.
  • Appeal against the decision of a pre-trial investigator or prosecutor to launch pre-trial investigation.
  • Appeal against the decision of a pre-trial investigator or prosecutor to discontinue pre-trial investigation.
  • Have a person to attend you during the pre-trial investigation or court proceedings. This person might be anyone whom you choose, whom you trust – your friend, mother, father, specialised help centre staff. She or he have a right to be with you when submitting the application, during the interview, the court proceedings as well as in cases when the hearing is not public. The police official or the judge will inform the person attending you about the established procedure during interviews, court hearings. The investigator, prosecutor or judge might not allow the attending person to take part in the proceedings, if it is decided that the participation might harm your interests or the interests of the case, for example, the attending person might be interested in the result of the case, etc.
  • Get free legal advice.
  • Get free specialised consultations, psychological or other support you might need.
  • Get protection for yourself, your children and the people living with you (see protection measures).
  • Translation and interpreting services. If you do not speak the state language, you have the right to the translation services of the most important documents of the proceedings into your native or the language you understand. You also have a right to interpreting services during the pre-trial investigation or giving evidence in court.
  • Receive the contacts of the official responsible for the case so you could keep contact with him. 
  • Receive information about the course and stage of the pre-trial investigation.
  • Ask to be informed if the suspect is released from custody or other place of detention or if he/ she has escaped.
  • Get acquainted with the pre-trial investigation material during the pre-trial investigation and during the court proceedings.
  • Have a right to the protection of your personal data. This means that the police cannot disclose or let the suspect get acquainted with the personal data in the pre-trial investigation, for example, your address, contact phone number, etc.
  • Submit applications related to the pre-trial investigation, for example, asking to interview the desired witness, ask for an expert conclusion, etc.
  • Ask for the removal of the pre-trial investigator, prosecutor, pre-trial judge, expert, interpreter, a specialist. This is done in writing by providing the grounds for removal.
  • Appeal against the actions or decisions of the pre-trial investigator, prosecutor, pre-trial judge, for example, the decision not to invite the witness you want to be heard, not to ask for an expert conclusion, etc.
  • Submit evidence in the pre-trial investigation. Even through the pre-trial investigator will interview you in order to collect evidence, you yourself might provide objects or documents on your own initiative that could have an impact to the investigation or the case, for example, your diaries, where you documented the cases of violence, the emails or sms sent to you by the perpetrator, statements from health care institutions, etc.
  • Receive compensation for the costs incurred during criminal proceedings, for example, transport costs to come to the hearings.
  • Receive remuneration for damages caused by the crime. The damages might be physical, to your health; pecuniary, when your property is damaged or misappropriated; moral in the form of the psychological trauma due to violence used against you. 
  • Submit a closing argument in court. Closing arguments are delivered after the court finishes dealing with the evidence.
  • Appeal against the court ruling or decision, for example, if you are not satisfied with the decision or the amount of the damage adjudicated.
  • Get special protection measures during criminal proceedings. The need of such measures could be assessed by you together with the investigating officer. The officer will ask you specific questions in order to assess the secondary risk of the trauma in case you participate in the proceedings. If you have, for example, suffered a lot from the perpetrator and the contact with him/ her would cause you huge stress or emotional suffering or you fear that you will not be able to tell everything in the presence of a perpetrator, your evidence during pre-trial investigation might be recorded and later this recording played during the court hearing. You might also have a possibility to give distance evidence in court. The suspect or his/ her defence lawyer would ask you questions via the judge. In any case, you would not need to see the suspect directly.