Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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A. Where will the trial take place?

As a general rule, the trial is held in the place where the court has jurisdiction - in terms of territory and subject-matter - in relation to the offence in question.

B. Can the charges be amended? If so, what is my right to information in this regard?

In general, if in the trial proceedings the facts prove to be different from those described in the order referring the matter for trial and do not fall within the jurisdiction of a higher court, the public prosecutor amends the charge and proceeds with the new notification; the same applies in relation to a concurrent offence and any aggravating circumstances resulting from the trial. As a rule, the public prosecutor proceeds in the ordinary manner if, during the trial, a new fact emerges in respect of the accused person which is not set out in the original order and which must be dealt with ex officio. However, if the public prosecutor so requests, the judge may authorise the notification of the amended charge at the same hearing, subject to the consent of the defendant and if this does not prejudice the time limits of the proceedings. If the public prosecutor proceeds directly with the new charge, as a rule the accused person may apply for the trial to be suspended and for new evidence to be admitted.

C. What are my rights when appearing in court?

i. Must I be present at the trial? Under what conditions can I be absent during the court case?

The defendant has the right - not the obligation - to be present at the trial. The court may, however, order that a defendant who is absent be duly forced to attend, where their appearance is necessary for the taking of evidence other than the examination.

Am I entitled to an interpreter and to a translation of the documents?

Yes, under Article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

iii. Am I entitled to a lawyer?

The defendant has the right to appoint no more than two defence counsel; a suspect/accused person who has not appointed or has no defence counsel is assisted by an officially appointed counsel.

iv. Which other procedural rights should I be aware of? (e.g. appearance of suspects before the court)

In this regard, it may be noted that, under Article 523 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the defendant and their defence counsel must, in any event, speak last at the hearing if they ask to, failing which the procedure will be invalid. In addition, it should be pointed out that, at any stage and instance of the proceedings, the parties and their defence counsel may submit written pleadings or requests to the court.

D. Possible sentences

The judge delivers a conviction if the defendant is found guilty of the offence of which they are accused beyond any reasonable doubt, and by a judgment the judge applies a penalty and any preventive measures. When delivering a conviction, the judge also rules on any claim for restitution and compensation for damages. If the judge decides that the defendant must pay compensatory damages, they will also set their amount, unless this is a matter for another court.

Last update: 21/03/2023

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