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REPORTING THE CRIME
CRIMINAL ACT
is defined by Section 13 of the Act N.40 / 2009 Coll. (Criminal Code):
Criminal act is a an unlawful act which is described by the Criminal Code as punishable and which accomplishes elements of a criminal offense stated by such act. Criminal liability for crime requires intentional fault unless stated expressly by the criminal law that negligent fault qualifies as well.

CRIMINAL OFFENCES ARE DIVIDED INTO
MINOR OFFENCES AND CRIMES

Minor offences = all unintentional offences + intentional criminal offences with criminal penalties of a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment.
Crimes = all crimes that are not considered offences according to the Criminal Code.
Serious crimes = intentional crimes with criminal penalties of a minimum of up to 10 years of imprisonment.

ARE YOU HESITATING WHETHER TO REPORT A CRIMINAL OFFENCE OR NOT?
Your decision-making can be influenced by information on how to report the criminal offence correctly.

Where and how to report a criminal offence?
Criminal offence can always be reported immediately on emergency line 158 where help and a trip to any place within the Czech Republic are guaranteed.
Criminal offence can be reported in person or in writing to the Czech Police (not Municipal or Metropolitan Police) or Public Prosecutor’s office. The public prosecutor’s office at the location of the criminal offence is the best choice.
In case criminal complaint is made in writing, we suggest that it is sent by registered post or that a copy of the complaint is signed and acknowledged by a police or public prosecutors’ registry officer at the filing room where the complaint is placed.
In cases of serious crimes (i.e. child abuse, rape, robbery etc.) we suggest filing the complaint with a specialised department of criminal and investigation services.
Information about these departments can be either acquired at local police stations or found on the Internet, or you can call the Bílý kruh bezpečí line on tel.: 257 317 110 (non-stop) for any such information.

What should be included in criminal complaint?
Criminal complaint should be concise and comprehensible. It should be evident who and when has filed the complaint (therefore your name and address ought to be provided so that the police can contact you) as well as which police unit the complaint has been filed with.  It is also advisable to provide your telephone number.
Furthermore, the complaint should include information on when, where, who and how committed the criminal offence, in what way, what the consequences are and what the possible reasons for committing the crime were. If any of the facts mentioned above are unknown to the victim, they do not state them in the complaint or claim that such information is unknown to them. 

How to specify time and place?
As far as the time of the criminal offence is concerned, it is advisable to provide the police with as accurate information as possible. The time of the crime can be estimated according to parallel events such as sports, cultural, political and/or television programmes. If the criminal offence was committed in a longer period of time, it is advisable to state the events in chronological order and provide context.
As for the place where the criminal offence was committed or completed or where it came to light, it is recommended to state the full address. If the notifier does not know it, it is sufficient to only describe how the place of criminal offence can be found.

What else is important to state in the complaint?
Criminal complaint should include descriptions of identities of all participants in the criminal offence, particularly the offender, the victim, and/or witnesses if there were any present at the crime scene. If the victim does not know their identity s/he provides a description of the persons and their external manifestations in detail as great as possible. It is advisable to provide any special characteristics that the victim has noticed in the offender (such as tattoos, specific accent, speech impairment, scars and/or other injuries). It is possible to also state probable motif of the offender’s actions in the complaint. However, if the motif is unknown to the victim, it should not be stated in the criminal complaint either.
It is advisable to describe the actions of all persons present as well as consequences of the criminal offence, e.g. bodily injuries or damages to property, and/or other incurred losses.
Finally, we suggest attaching all possible evidence that the notifier is aware of in connection with the criminal offence. This might include tools or weapons used as well as documents and other written evidence.

Must the informant specify what criminal offence has been committed?
Informant is predominantly not a professional and is not acquainted with the area of criminal law. Therefore it is not required to state in the criminal complaint what criminal offence has been committed exactly. It is up to the police to assess the criminal complaint in order to declare whether the actions described by the informant constitute criminal offence or not.

How do I find out about the police’s reaction to the criminal complaint?
The right to be notified of how the complaint was processed is not automatic. Notification is only provided in case informant requires it expressly. Without such explicit requirement the Czech Police are not obligated to notify the informant of the result of their investigation. Therefore each written complaint should always be concluded with „I wish to be informed of the results of the proceedings following my complaint”. If complaint is filed by word of mouth, this sentence must be stated at the end of the file, only then is the file to be signed.

Obligation to report a criminal offence:
According to Criminal Law, in case of particular criminal offences (e.g. sexual abuse or rape) there is an obligation to report them if a citizen finds out from reliable resources that such criminal offences are being prepared or have been committed. Otherwise the person who has not reported the criminal offence is criminally responsible him/herself.

Obligation to report criminal offence:
In case of particular criminal offences (e.g. abuse of a person entrusted to one’s care) Criminal Law imposes obligation to report these offences if a citizen finds out from reliable resources that such criminal offence has been committed. Otherwise they are criminally responsible themselves.

INVESTIGATION OF A CRIMINAL OFFENCE

The first stage of a pre-trial criminal proceeding is examination, when the police authority examines whether criminal offence was committed and who the person suspected of committing a crime is.

The investigation stage is started by the issue of a resolution to commence prosecution of a specific person for a specific criminal offence. The resolution states what criminal offence was committed in given case.

During the course of investigation the police have the option to interrogate the perpetrator, the crime victim, to interview other witnesses, to secure documentary or real evidence, or execute further acts. In some cases the crime victim is even summoned repeatedly to supplement their examination.

Crime victim is cautioned by the police authority about their rights and duties,  about the possibility to join the criminal proceedings with their claim for compensation, they are given explanation how to proceed with the claim to join, they should also be instructed about the possibility to file an application for financial support from the state. See the headword *náhrada škody for more information.

Expert opinions from various fields are often elaborated at this stage of criminal proceedings (e.g. medicine, forensic medicine, psychology and psychiatry), which comment on the nature of wounds inflicted on the victim by criminal offence, alternatively on psychological profile of the perpetrator as well as the victim of the criminal offence. It is also common to elaborate price estimation expert opinions to determine the amount of property damages.

Complete an investigation of a criminal offence can take different amount of time, it always depends on how serious and extensive crime was committed, whether the police authority needs to track down the perpetrator or the perpetrator’s identity is known, and how fast the necessary evidence can be collected. This stage of criminal proceedings mostly takes months, in some cases the preliminary proceedings can be significantly faster, however, in other cases it can be significantly longer on the other hand.

Supervision over the course of preliminary criminal proceedings rests with the prosecutor. Within this activity the public prosecutor can propose the execution of other acts which the police authority is obligated to perform in such way that the preliminary proceedings are as effective as possible.

RAISING A CRIMINAL CHARGE OR DECISION NOT TO PROCEED WITH CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

If the public prosecutor arrives at the conclusion that a criminal offence was committed and that enough evidence on such criminal offence has been gathered, they will bring a criminal charge against specific person to court.  The charge will be describing the act which that the specific person committed, classification of the incurred criminal offence, and details of the evidence on which the public prosecutor based and justified such charge.

If the public prosecutor arrives at the conclusion that the established evidence is not sufficient for the case to be heard at court, they can issue some of the other decisions, which are the decision to transfer the case to another body, decision not to proceed with criminal prosecution or to suspend criminal prosecution.

The decision to transfer the case to another body is issued by public prosecutor in case that the given act was not a criminal offence, but it could be qualified by another body as a minor offence or disciplinary violation.

The decision to  not to proceed with criminal prosecution will be released by the public prosecutor if there is no doubt that the action on which the criminal prosecution is based did not happen, or if this action is not a criminal offence, or it was not proved that the action was committed by the accused. Criminal prosecution is not permissible if the accused person was not accountable for the criminal offence at the time it was committed because of insanity, or the punishability of the act has extinguished (no longer applies).

The public prosecutor can also take decision not to continue with criminal prosecution in other cases, they can also suspend the criminal prosecution of the accused person under circumstances set out by law.

PROCEEDINGS IN A COURT ROOM
OPEN COURTROOM













In case the public prosecutor brings a criminal charge to court, the court will hear the prosecution, either as part of the trial or it will issue a decision without hearing.

Trial
is always open to public (with the exception of cases of extraordinary nature, which are specified by law, and when the public may be excluded from the hearing of the case) and it is always conducted by a judge (the judges on the bench consists of a professional judge and two laymen).

The trial consists of the following: the charges are read by the public prosecutor, evidence proceedings take place; this is opened by the hearing of the defendant, then the hearing of witnesses, documentary and real evidence are produced. After that the public prosecutor and the advocate for the defendant are asked to deliver their closing speeches. At the end there is also space for the defendant to use their right to deliver their speech.

Subsequently, the court will declare a judgement, which can find the defendant guilty of a criminal offence and impose a punishment on them, or it can release them from the charges (in case it has not been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a criminal offence, because any possible doubts are considered to be in favour of the defendant). In other words the court must be convinced about the defendant’s guilt without any doubt. If that is not the case, the defendant must be released from charges.
Crime victim finds him/herself in the position of an injured party and they has the right to attend the trial.

If the injured party is summoned to court as a witness it is their duty to appear in the trial and subsequently to testify at court.

The role of the victim is very important because it mediates information on how the criminal offence happened to the court, what the course of committed criminal offence was and also what impact the criminal offence had on the victim’s life. It is therefore important that the crime victim recalls as much detail related to the tried criminal offence as possible within the court proceedings.

It can happen though that the victim is unable to recall a specific circumstance. That is understandable in the light of the fact that the witness can be summoned to testify at court after several months even. Therefore it is possible that the witness, provided they are unable to recall specific circumstance of the criminal offence which they are questioned about, answers in such a way that they do not recollect the circumstances or they do not remember. It is also possible that the witness brings their notes for the testimony that are related to the course of the criminal offence, which can help them to testify all they can remember about the case. It should not be, however, a solid text which the witness would only read out. The court can also ask the witness to present their notes for examination by the judge and the witness is obligated to comply.

If the crime victim in the position of a witness or injured party is unable to appear at the trial for serious reasons, e.g. due to illness, it is necessary to send an excuse from the trial to the court as soon as possible and to substantiate it e.g. by a document proving incapacity to work. In such case the victim is usually summoned for another, adjourned hearing. If the witness fails to appear at the court hearings without excuse or for no reason, they can be imposed a disciplinary penalty up to the amount of CZK 50,000. Alternatively, the victim can be brought up to court by officers of the Czech Police.

Various rules apply for criminal proceedings, as regulated by criminal legislation.

Principle of presumption of innocence = everyone is considered innocent until the time the decision of the court on a specific criminal offence guilt has become final and conclusive.

The public prosecutor is obligated to prosecute all criminal offences which come to their attention, while the law enforcement authorities act based on their official duty = the witnesses or crime victims are therefore not required to gather evidence on committed criminal offence, that is the job for the police authority in particular.

Principle or orality and directness of judicial proceedings = evidence is produced in such way that the witnesses, experts, the defendant and the injured party are heard by the court, it is therefore important that the witness appears at court and gives testimony to all they know in relation to the case, this also applies in case they have already testified these facts to the police authority.
The judicial proceedings as part of criminal proceedings are always fully recorded so that no doubt can arise as to the course of criminal proceedings. The recording of the trial is a part of the files.

The court proceedings are public. It is possible however that public is excluded in cases when public hearing of the case might endanger classified information protected by special law, morals or undisturbed course of proceedings or the safety or another important interest of the witness.

In cases where the conditions for excluding public from the court proceedings have not been met, access to the trial can be denied to minors and those persons where there is concern that they might disturb respectable course of the trial.

The judgement must always be announced publicly.

DECISION

In practise it is possible to come across several different decisions within criminal proceedings. These are the judgement, criminal order and the resolution.

Judgement
is a decision by means of which the defendant is either found guilty and a respective type and terms of punishment are imposed on them or a decision to impose protective medical treatment or other protective measure can be taken, or the defendant is released from charges, which holds in case that defendant’s guilt has not been proven.
The judgement can also include a decision on the obligation of the accused to cover reimbursement for the criminal offence to the injured party, this must be based on submission by the injured party. The judgment can also release the defendant from charges in case the prosecuted action has not proved the defendant’s guilt.

Criminal Order
is a form of decision issued by court in case the decision is taken only on the basis of judicial file, without personal hearing of the participants in the case. Criminal order can only declare the defendant guilty and impose punishment on them for such action. It is not possible to release the defendant from charges by means of a Criminal order.

Resolution
Is a decision of a procedural nature, by means of which the course of judicial proceedings is regulated within criminal proceedings, but it can also be used to take a decision not to continue with criminal prosecution of the defendant, as per the reasons stipulated by law.

APPEAL

It is possible to file an appeal against the first instance decision, i.e. against the court who made decision in the case as the first. This must be made no longer than eight days from the day the judgement was delivered into one’s own hands.
The complete case will be heard again in such case by a superior court which will make a decision on merits of the case either by confirming the first instance decision or allowing the appeal. The appellate court will then either decide the case on its merits by itself or return the case to the first instance court to be newly heard and newly decided. The rule applies in case the first instance court is bound by legal opinion of the appellate court which it must respect.

Who can appeal?
The decision can be appealed against by the public prosecutor and the defendant, the latter can also appeal by means of their solicitor. Appeal against the decision can also be filed on behalf of the defendant by defendant’s relatives in direct line of descent, their siblings, adoptive parent, adoptive child, husband, partner or cohabitant.

If the judgement has also included a decision on entitlement to compensation, appeal against the decision can also be filed by the injured party, but only in that part which refers to the decision on compensation.

The injured party can not appeal against that part of the decision, which relates to the determination of guilt or punishment for the defendant. Appeal against this part can only be filed by the public prosecutor and the defendant.
Criminal order cannot be appealed against at all, the public prosecutor and defendant can only file a protest, which means that the criminal order will be completely annulled and the case will be heard anew by the first instance court. Protest must also be filed no longer than eight days from the day the criminal order was delivered into one’s own hands.
Complaint against the resolution to discontinue criminal prosecution can be filed no longer than three days from the day the resolution was delivered into one’s own hands.
Appeal will be decided by immediate superior court, i.e. by the court having local jurisdiction or the Metropolitan court in Prague for cases falling under the jurisdiction of the capital city of Prague.
The appellate court will hear the case, always in a bench consisting of three professional judges. Evidence can be added during the hearing if considered necessary. The appellate court can therefore hear the defendant; it can call witnesses and hear them, alternatively produce documentary or real evidence. Appellate court does not review evidence in full extent though, but it draws on evidence produced within the first instance proceedings.

If the appellate court agrees with the decision of first instance court, it will reject the appeal.

If it disagrees with the decision by first instance court, the appellate court can annul the decision and send it back to be reviewed by the first instance court. The first instance court is in such case bound by legal opinion of the appellate court which is described in the appellate court decision. It is also possible that the appellate court cancels the decision of first instance court completely or partially and the ruling is made by the appellate court itself.

Legal force of the decision
At the moment when it is no longer possible to file an appeal or protest against the first instance decision, the decision becomes final and conclusive and can be executed. Within the court that arrived at the decision in the first instance such decision will then be defined by a clause of legal force. Once that the clause of legal force has been defined, the punishment can be executed on the perpetrator, also the injured party can start claiming the náhradu compensation for damages from the perpetrator if compensation has been awarded to the injured party by judicial decision.

Extraordinary relief
It is possible to make use of “extraordinary remedial measures” even against final and conclusive decision; this is, however, only possible under circumstances specifically regulated by the code of criminal procedure. These involve appellate review (this can be only submitted by public prosecutor and the accused, who must be represented by a solicitor), complaint against a breach of law (complaint can be filed only by the minister of justice in cases specified by law) and motion for a re-opening of a case (re-opening the proceedings can only permitted by court when facts or evidence not known to the court before come to light, which might justify different decision on guilt or on compensation for damages).

ACCELERATED PROCEEDINGS

Criminal order – accelerated proceedings
In case of less serious criminal offences which are punishable by imprisonment up to five years maximum as set out by law the trial is only held by one professional judge, called single judge.

They can also reach decision without ordering a proceeding, only on the basis of files compiled by police authority, i.e. without personal presence of the defendant. In case the accused person is found guilty, the single judge can issue a decision, a “criminal order”, by means of which they will declare the accused person guilty and also decide on their punishment.

The criminal order will decide on perpetrator’s guilt and also set out punishment for the accused person. It is also required that the criminal order is delivered into the accused person’s own hands.

Provided the injured party has claimed entitlement to damages before the time the criminal order was issued in a specific amount and for specific reasons, the single judge will also decide on a claim for compensation. The injured party is not entitled to file a protest against the criminal order, not even to any part of the criminal order.

If the accused does not accept the content of the criminal order, they can file a protest against it within 8 days from the day of its delivery. The criminal order is annulled in such case from the beginning and a single judge will order a trial, in the course of which they will hear the criminal case with the accused person and public prosecutor in person.

Special procedures that can be used within criminal proceedings also include decision on conditional discontinuance of a criminal prosecution and settlement.