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Defendants (criminal proceedings)


These factsheets explain what happens if you are suspected or accused of a crime which is tried in a court of law. For information on minor traffic offences, which are usually dealt with by a fine, see Factsheet 5. If you are the victim of a crime, you can find full information about your rights here.

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Summary of criminal proceedings

The following is a summary of the standard stages in criminal proceedings:

  • Launching of criminal proceedings
  • Pre-trial proceedings or investigation
  • Access to the criminal file and hearing of applications
  • Charging
  • Pre-trial proceedings in court
  • Court hearing
  • Judgment
  • Appeals proceedings (in courts of second and third instance)
  • Execution of the judgment

The factsheets give details about these stages of the process and about your rights. This information is not a substitute for legal advice and is intended to be for guidance only.

The role of the European Commission

Please note that the European Commission has no role in criminal proceedings carried out in Member States and cannot assist you if you have a complaint. These factsheets provide information on how and to whom complaints should be submitted.

Click on the links below to find the information that you need

1 – Getting legal advice

2 – My rights during the investigation of the crime

  • Launching of criminal proceedings
  • Detention and arrest
  • Interrogation and the gathering of evidence
  • Access to the criminal file, hearing of applications and charging
  • Additional information for non-residents

3 – My rights during the trial

4 – My rights after the trial

5 – Traffic offences

Related link

Overview of the Estonian criminal procedure in English

Last update: 01/10/2020

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.