Can I appeal?
You can appeal against the judgement of the court of first instance directly after the sentence has been announced or within 15 days from that date. If you were not present at the court, you must appeal within 15 days from receiving the decision in writing to the court which decided the case. Your appeal can be based on any grounds or new evidence. You may appeal against the judgement as a whole or only a part of it.
If the court of first instance made a ruling without issuing a judgement, you can file an appeal against such a decision within 3 days of the notification.
What happens if I appeal?
If you appeal, the judgement will not become effective until an appellate court issues a decision. If you appeal after you were convicted, you are still presumed innocent, and if you were, for example, sentenced to imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole, you will not start serving your sentence in prison.
The court of first instance submits your appeal to other parties who have the right to challenge your appeal in writing, and then submits the file to a court of appeal (a regional court). The Specialised Criminal Court submits the appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal court will examine the legality and correctness of the judgement and/or procedure being challenged.
How long will it be before my appeal is heard?
There is no time limit defined by law. The length of time depends on the facts or legal complexity. The appellate court must read your case file in full and study your appeal. You have the right to have your appeal heard in a reasonable period of time. If the appellate court does not act in a timely way, you may file a complaint with the appellate court, and/or to the Constitutional Court, or to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.
What happens if I am in custody when I appeal?
Being in custody does not have an effect on the appeals process. However, you cannot file a complaint against the decision of the appellate court regarding your custody.
What happens at the appeal hearing?
The appellate court will report on your case, give an opinion on the judgement you are challenging, the evidence and the proceedings of the court of first instance and investigative authorities. The appellate court does not re-examine evidence, except for any evidence which it considers necessary for its decision. For that reason you will not be heard again, nor will the court hear witnesses or examine the evidence. It will only examine the correctness of the procedure and the decision of the court of first instance.
Do I have a right to make a final statement?
You have a right to make a final motion in which you suggest how the appellate court should decide. Since it is not a final statement, you should not challenge the evidence, the deeds, or the legal assessment of the deeds of your case. In practice, however, you might have the opportunity to challenge these circumstances, if it brings new facts to the appeal file.
What can the appeal court decide?
The appeal court will dismiss your appeal if you filed it after the time limit for appeal, or if it considers the judgement of the court of first instance to be correct and lawful. The decision of the appeal court is valid, executable and final. If you were sentenced to imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole, you must start serving your prison sentence.
The appellate court will overturn the judgement if the court of first instance breached your right to a defence, or if it did not fully determine whether the crime you were convicted of was committed by you;
If the judgement breached the Penal Code, or imposed an inadequate or very mild punishment, the appeal court will:
- return the case to the court of first instance to reopen the case and review its decision. The court of first instance will re-examine the evidence which the appellate court has ordered it to review and decide on the case again. You have the right to appeal this decision again.
- issue its own ruling amending the judgement of the court of first instance and release you from the charges, impose a different punishment, or sentence you to a different period of time, etc. This decision is final. If you were found not guilty of the charges by the court of first instance, the appellate court cannot find you guilty. If the judgement of the court of first instance was not appealed by the prosecutor, the appellate court cannot aggravate the judgment.
Can I appeal the decision of the appellate court?
You cannot appeal the final decision of the appellate court.
Even though you can make an appeal to the Supreme Court or file a motion to reopen the case, the final decision of the appellate court is still valid and executable. If you were sentenced to imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole, you must start serving your prison sentence.
You can appeal to the Supreme Court within 3 years from the date when you received the final decision in writing from the court of first instance. The appeal to the Supreme Court can be filed only on specific grounds defined by law.
You may file a motion requesting reopening of the case if new evidence which was not known during the trial surfaced and this new evidence is so significant that it could have changed the final decision.
Am I entitled to compensation for any reason?
If you were found not guilty of the charges or the criminal prosecution against you was stopped, you have the right to receive compensation for losses you incurred because of the criminal process, specifically for actual costs (e.g., lawyer’s fees), lost income (from loss of employment), and also for non-material damages (e.g., related to custody). You can exercise this right by filing a motion requesting preliminary review of your claim to a state authority. If the authority does not compensate you, you can bring a case to court. If you were found guilty, you will have to compensate for costs incurred in relation to the criminal process, particularly prison costs.
I am from another Member State. Can I be sent back home after the trial?
For more information, click here.
Will information about a judgement be added to my criminal records?
If you were found not guilty or the case was closed, no information will be added to your criminal record. If you were found guilty, the information will be retained in your criminal record for 100 years starting on the date of your birth. It can be requested by different state authorities for the purpose of another criminal prosecution; it can also be accessed by authorities of another Member State.
You can receive information about your convictions only while you are serving the sentence: for example, for 5 years if you were disqualified from driving a motor vehicle for 5 years. However, If you were sentenced to imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole, the information will be retained in your criminal record after your release.
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.