CRIME VICTIM’S RIGHTS
Law enforcement authorities (the police, public prosecutor, court) are obligated to advise the injured party (crime victim) of their rights at every stage of criminal proceedings as well as to explain those rights thoroughly and provide him/her with sufficient space and full opportunity to assert those rights.
Crime victim, who is legally referred to as an “injured party”, has a number of rights in the process of criminal proceedings.
The following list of rights is not exhausting, however, it offers concise and comprehensible information on victims’ crucial rights. Comprehensive list of rights based on criminal law can be found for instance at a lawyer’s or in specialised advisory centre (including the Bílý kruh bezpečí advisory centres).
In accordance with the law, an injured party is considered to be a person to whom the following damage was done as a result of the criminal offence:
• bodily harm,
• damage to property,
• non-material harm,
• other damages and harm (e.g. survivor).
On the other hand, a person who feels harmed by the criminal offence in a non-material or another way cannot be considered an injured party unless the harm was caused by the offender or there is direct connection between the harm and the offender’s actions.
Law enforcement authorities
Major part in the criminal proceedings is played by „law enforcement authorities” that are responsible for the due course of the criminal proceedings. These authorities are:
• the police (predominantly the Czech Police) who uncover criminal offences and execute initial investigation based on suspicion, secure and procure evidence etc.,
• public prosecutor who executes supervision over the police authorities’ proceedings, presses charges against the offender and represents public interest at the court including the interest of the crime victim.
• court, which decides on offender’s guilt and sentence on the basis of collected evidence.
Stages of criminal proceedings
• preliminary proceedings – take place before police authority and their purpose is to gather documents for a decision whether the criminal proceedings are to be continued with or not. Preliminary proceedings are further divided into:
police authority examines whether criminal offence was committed and who is the person suspected of committing a crime,
. criminal prosecution (investigation)
police authority arrives at a conclusion that suspicion of a committed criminal offence has been provided and they will prosecute a specific person, gather evidence based on which the public prosecutor brings charges or announces different decision.
• Trial – takes place at court, its main part forms the so-called evidence proceedings of a criminal offence (i.e. review of the gathered evidence);
• Appellate proceedings – in case of appeal against the first instance decision;