What participants can you encounter during criminal proceedings and what are their roles within criminal proceedings?


A professional lawyer who was appointed to serve as a judge by the President of the Czech Republic. As an expert they decides on some cases on their own, in other cases in bench, to reach a decision whether there was enough evidence gathered within criminal proceedings that a criminal offence has been committed, based on which it is possible to reach a conclusion that a particular perpetrator committed  a specific criminal offence. In such case the judge will bring in the verdict that the perpetrator is guilty of a specific act and they will decide at the same time what punishment will be imposed on the perpetrator. The judge wears a dark judge's gown during the judicial proceedings which has a dark violet collar. The judge pronounces judgment on their own in cases of less serious criminal offences, which are punishable by imprisonment up to five years maximum as set out by law. In cases of other criminal offences they pronounce judgment jointly with two other judges = non-experts in bench. The judge directs the course of criminal proceedings at court and they also decides which witnesses will be heard within the judicial proceedings. During the hearing they establishes the identity of summoned witness, whom they will caution about the rights and duties of a witness within judicial proceedings. Then they will ask the witness to describe the course of criminal offence in their own words, as they can remember it. Subsequently they will ask additional questions in such way that they find out as accurately as possible how the committed criminal offence happened and what consequence it had. After the judge has inquired into all circumstances of the given act, there is room for other persons to ask questions, these include members of bench, public prosecutor and perpetrator’s solicitor. Also the perpetrator will be given opportunity to ask the witness questions or comment on their testimony. The judge supervises this to prevent the asked questions from being leading or inappropriate in a different way. At the end of examination the judge will ask the witness whether they incurred any special expenses for attending the court hearing (see more information under reimbursement for substantial expences). After the judge has completed the examination of the witness, the witness can either leave the court or take a seat in the courtroom and observe the following course of judicial proceedings. The witness is free to make a decision about the above choices.



A lawyer who was appointed to serve as a public prosecutor by the Minister of Justice. Public prosecutor has a number of roles within the stages of criminal proceedings, he supervises preliminary criminal proceedings, brings charges against the perpetrator of criminal offences and represents the prosecution at court in particular. Public prosecutor has an important role in the first stage of criminal proceedings which includes preliminary proceedings, where the police gathers complete evidence related to guilt of the specific perpetrator. At this stage the public prosecutor supervises the police and ensures its actions are in compliance with the law and that the police perform all stages that will lead to a clarification of the criminal offence the perpetrator committed. Public prosecutor attends the trial, he reads out the charges against the specific perpetrator and he leads the prosecution during the judicial proceedings in such way that it is possible to prove the perpetrator’s guilt. At the end of the judicial proceedings the public prosecutor has room for a closing argument in which they will summarize all substantial circumstance which was ascertained, and proposes the type of punishment and length of term of imprisonment for the perpetrator. After judgement has been announced for a particular perpetrator, the public prosecutor can appeal against it to superior court in case they disagree with it. During the judicial proceedings the public prosecutor sits at judge’s or bench’s right and wear a dark gown with a wine-coloured shawl collar.



Crime victim is also referred to as the injured party under the Czech Criminal Law and they are entitled to a number of rights during the criminal proceedings. The current legal regulation defines the injured party as a person who suffered a bodily harm as a result of criminal offence, who suffered a damage to property or non-proprietary loss, or someone to whose detriment the perpetrator of criminal offence enriched him/herself. Particularly vulnerable victims include a child, a severely physically handicapped person, crime victim of human trafficking and a victim of crime against human dignity in sexual area or criminal offence which included violence or threat of violence with an increased danger of secondary damage. These persons are treated with increased protection (e.g. when providing explanation and examination). Contrary to the above, persons who feel to have been morally damaged or damaged in other ways by a criminal offence but the damage they incurred has not been caused by the perpetrator’s fault, or its origin has no causal relation to the criminal offence, are not considered an “injured party”. The injured party is entitled among others to make petitions for taking of additional evidence and have access to the files, they have the right to attend the trial, they are also entitled to submitting motion that the court imposes an obligation to the defendant in the convicting judgment to reimburse the damages that they caused to the injured party. The motion to compensation for damages along with its specification must be submitted at the trial before the court has opened the evidence proceedings at the latest, i.e. after the public prosecutor has read out the charges and before the court has started hearing the defendant. The motion must state what amount and for what reason the claim to compensation is put forward at the court.



Witness is a person who had the opportunity to perceive the circumstances of the committed criminal offence, in some cases criminal offence was committed on them directly. During criminal proceedings the witness testifies about the circumstances of the committed criminal offence which is being discussed, about what they had the opportunity to see, hear or perceive in another way. As opposed to the perpetrator of a criminal offence, the witness has a duty to always give truthful testimony. The witness also has a duty to appear at the respective law enforcement authority upon being summoned and testify, i.e. to act as a witness. The witness can be exempt from this duty only in cases expressly stated in law specified by Section 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Witness can refuse to testify in two cases, specified below: 1.) If they are a relative to the accused person in direct line of descent, their siblings, adoptive parent, adoptive child, husband, partner or cohabitant; 2.) If their testimony could put themselves, their relative in direct line of descent, their siblings, adoptive parent, adoptive child, husband, partner or cohabitant or other persons in family relationship or similar, whose harm they could rightfully feel as their own harm, into danger of criminal prosecution. Each witness must always be warned beforehand about their right to refuse to give testimony within the criminal proceedings. If the witness is summoned to give testimony at court it is important that they have their ID card or another proof of identity, their notice to appear, which the witness received from court, or documentary evidence which they were called to produce at court as a witness or those that they want to produce at court on their own. If the witness is an injured party in the criminal proceedings at the same time, it is important that they also bring along the assessed amount of damages.




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