During criminal proceedings you are entitled to:
- expect the authorities responsible for criminal proceedings to work as quickly as possible and to fully comply with your rights and fundamental freedoms;
- demand that the authorities responsible for criminal proceedings proceed so that there can be no reasonable doubt about the facts essential for a proper decision to be made. They must use equal care in assessing the evidence in your favour and to your detriment;
- be instructed by the authorities responsible for criminal proceedings about your rights and have the opportunity to have those rights fully enforced;
- express an opinion about all charges against you and the evidence supporting them;
- refuse to testify;
- examine files, get extracts and take notes, and make copies at your own cost;
- participate in the discussion of the case during the trial and public sessions held during an appeal;
- make a closing statement during the trial and in a public session during the appeal as well as the right to present a final petition;
- present circumstances and evidence for your defence;
- make petitions (on examining evidence and the methods of decision) and file applications;
- present remedies (ordinary, that is a complaint; an appeal, a protest, and extraordinary petition for a renewal of proceedings; initiate a complaint against a breach of law; and an appeal
- choose a defence lawyer (if you do not choose one yourself, one can be chosen by a family member or other participating person) and seek his or her advice even during actions which the authority responsible for the criminal proceedings alone performs;
- speak with your defence lawyer in private if you are in custody or serving a prison sentence;
- demand that you are questioned in the presence of your defence lawyer and that he or she participates in other parts of the preparatory process;
- use your native language or another language you speak before authorities responsible for criminal proceedings, if you declare that you do not speak Czech.
Preliminary discussion of the charge
If a charge is filed, it will be examined by the presiding judge who will consider whether a preliminary discussion is required, or whether a trial can be ordered.
The outcome of the preliminary discussion of the charge may be a decision of the court on:
- submitting the case for a decision on jurisdiction;
- submitting the case to another authority (if this is not a crime but could be an offence, etc.);
- stopping criminal prosecution;
- suspending criminal prosecution;
- returning the case to the public prosecutor for further investigation;
- conditionally suspending criminal prosecution or approving a settlement
Where will the trial be held?
Depending on the seriousness of the crime the trial of first instance will be held before the district or regional court with jurisdiction in the place where the crime was committed, or the domicile of the accused, or the place where the crime was discovered.
Will the trial be in public?
Yes, the trial is held in public. However the public may be excluded in some cases.
Who will decide the case?
A panel of judges or a single judge will decide the case..
Can I raise objections to the judge?
Yes, see Factsheet 2.
Can the charges be changed during the trial?
The trial is held only to decide on the act described in the charge. However, should it become apparent that you have committed other acts, it may be decided during the preliminary discussion of the charge or at the end of the trial that the case will be returned to the public prosecutor for further investigation.
The revised charge will contain the new allegations. The court can decide that the act for which you are being tried should be charged more moderately or severely than the public prosecutor.
What happens if I plead guilty to all or some charges during the trial?
If you plead guilty, the court will still go on to examine and assess the evidence of those people who speak in your favour.
What are my rights during the trial?
See Fundamental Rights at the beginning of this factsheet. Further specific rights exist that apply to specific procedural situations.
Do I have to be present at the trial? Can it be held without me?
The trial may be held in your absence, but not if:
- you are in custody;
- you are serving a prison sentence;
- the case involves a crime for which you could be sentenced to imprisonment for more than 5 years However you do not have to be present at the trial even for this type of case if you ask the court to hold the trial in your absence.
In cases where a defence is required (see Factsheet 1) the trial cannot be held without the presence of a defence lawyer.
If I live in another Member State can I participate by video conference?
It is not possible to participate in a trial in this manner.
Will I be present during the whole trial?
You will be present throughout the trial. You do not have to be present for procedures which take place outside the trial, however, you or your defence lawyer have the right to participate in these if you want to.
Will I get an interpreter if I do not understand what is happening?
Yes, see Fundamental Rights at the beginning of this factsheet.
Must I have a lawyer? Will a lawyer be provided for me? Can I change my lawyer?
The Criminal Procedure Code specifies the cases which require a defence. See Factsheet 1.
Can I or must I speak at the trial?
During the trial you are entitled to a defence, that is to defend yourself or do so through your defence lawyer. During the entire trial the court will allow you or your defence lawyer to express an opinion on all the procedural steps which take place. You do not have to make use of your right to defend yourself and you can refuse to testify.
What are the consequences if I do not tell the truth during the trial?
As the accused, you are not obliged to tell the truth in court. However, if you intentionally state facts untruthfully in order to bring about the criminal prosecution of someone else, you may later be charged with libel.
What are my rights in relation to the evidence against me?
You are entitled to express an opinion on the evidence and propose additional evidence or propose evidence supporting your defence.
You will get the chance during a closing statement to express your opinion on the evidence after each individual piece of evidence has been examined.
What kind of evidence can I produce on my own behalf? Under what conditions?
In addition to your own testimony, you can propose evidence that could rebut or reduce your guilt, including for example hearing witnesses, challenging the evidence, identification of witnesses, crime scene reconstruction, hearing experts, documentary evidence, search, and so forth.
You are entitled to propose to the court that such evidence be examined. The court will decide whether to do so or not. As soon as the presiding judge declares the evidence complete, no further evidence can be presented in the trial.
Can I use a private detective to obtain evidence?
It is possible to use the services of a private detective. However, the detective must act in accordance with the law in order for the evidence which is obtained to be used during the trial. The private detective may not influence witnesses.
Can I ask witnesses to speak for me?
You can propose that a certain person is examined if you think the person’s evidence will benefit your case. But you cannot influence witnesses.
Will information about my criminal record be taken into account?
Your criminal record may be taken into account during sentencing, provided that the conviction has not expired.
What will happen at the end of the trial?
The trial may end in the following ways:
- the case may be returned to the public prosecutor for further investigation;
- if the act is not a crime but could be an offence, the case may be transferred. The criminal prosecution may be stopped;
- the criminal prosecution may be stopped conditionally, or a settlement may be approved;
- the court may decide on a guilty verdict or an acquittal.
Sentences, rights of the injured party
What sentence could I get?
Under the Criminal Code if you commit a crime you can be sentenced as follows:
- imprisonment, which, unless the law specifically states otherwise, can be unconditional, conditional or conditional with supervision. An exceptional sentence is also possible. This is either prison sentence of over twenty to thirty years, or a life sentence;
- house arrest,
- community service,
- forfeiture of property,
- financial penalty,
- forfeiture of an item or other asset,
- ban on certain activities,
- residence ban,
- ban on entry to sports, cultural and other social events,
- loss of honorary titles or awards,
- loss of military rank,
What is the role of the victim (injured party) during the trial?
The victim, that is, the person who was injured, who sustained damage to property, his person, or other damage by a crime, is entitled to:
- be represented by proxy; if the victim proves he or she lacks funds, free legal aid can be provided by a lawyer;
- make petitions for further evidence;
- examine files;
- participate in the trial and a public session during an appeal;
- express an opinion about the case before the end of the trial;
- if the victim is entitled under the law to compensation for damages, and the verdict is guilty, the victim may to ask the court to require the accused make compensation. The petition must be made before the start of the presentation of evidence at the trial at the latest;
- if the victim is in potential danger from the accused or the convicted person being set free, the victim is entitled to demand timely information that the accused has been released, has escaped, or other similar circumstances.
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