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Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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Where will the trial be held?

If an indictment was issued at the end of the investigation, the prosecutors will send the file to the competent court.

Which court will hear the case?

This will be decided on the basis of the seriousness of the crime and where it was committed.

Will the trial be public?

Court hearings are usually public.

In exceptional cases, if a public court hearing might undermine state interests, morals, dignity and the privacy of a person, the court can declare the hearing or some part of it closed to the general public.

The court hearing of a minor (under 18 years of age) is held separately from other hearings and is not public.

Is the case decided by a judge or a jury?

Cases are decided by a panel of one or more judges, as appropriate under the law. In the Romanian criminal process there is no jury.

Can the charges be changed during the trial?

During the trial, if the legal classification of the crime is considered incorrect, the court must discuss the new classification.

If new facts are revealed related to the crime charged, the court can change the charges and try the crime as such.

If, during the proceedings, new facts are revealed which may constitute another crime, connected to the one charged, the court can request the addition of new charges. The court will decide whether to add new charges or refer the case to the police or prosecution for further investigation.

In all situations, you will be informed of the modifications and you have the right to prepare your defence.

What happens if I plead guilty to some or all of the charges during the trial?

The fact that you admit that you are guilty is not sufficient for the court to sentence you. All the evidence should also satisfy the court that you are guilty. However, if you admit that you are guilty, this may lead to a less serious sentence being imposed by the court.

What are my rights during the trial?

Do I have to be present at the trial? Can it be held without me?

You do not have to appear in court unless you are held in custody, in connection with the charges which are being tried or in connection with a different case, or if you are a minor.

If I live in another Member State, can I participate by video link?

The hearing can be carried out by video-conference, if there is an agreement to this effect between Romanian judicial authorities and the state where you live. You must agree to this procedure.

Do I have to be present throughout the trial?

Except in cases where your presence is required, you may choose not to appear at the hearing and appoint a lawyer to represent you.

Will I have interpretation if I don't understand the language?

If you do not understand Romanian, the court must appoint an interpreter to provide translation.

Must I have a lawyer? Will a lawyer be allocated to me? Can I change my lawyer?

You can choose to hire a lawyer. When legal representation is required, if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer for you. You can change lawyers during the trial.

Can I speak at the trial? Must I speak at the trial? Do I have the right not to make any statement?

The court must hear you at the beginning of the trial and before the end of the hearing. You have the right to question witnesses and other parties, and to provide explanations during the trial. However, you also have the right not to make any statement.

What are the consequences if I don't tell the truth during the trial?

There is no criminal penalty if you do not tell the truth. If you are convicted however, this behaviour can be taken into account in determining the sentence.

What are my rights in relation to the evidence against me?

Can I challenge the evidence produced against me?

You have the right to challenge the evidence produced against you by submitting other evidence, requesting counter-expertise, challenging the authenticity of documents on file in order to prove that the charges against you are groundless.

What kind of evidence can I produce on my behalf?

You can produce any kind of evidence: testimonies by witnesses, documents, audio and video recordings, photographs, material evidence, technical findings and forensic expertise.

Under what conditions can I introduce such evidence?

You can ask the court to accept evidence and the court will decide whether to allow or dismiss the evidence.

Can I use a private detective to obtain evidence for me? Is such evidence acceptable?

Private detectives are not allowed to investigate criminal cases tried by judicial bodies.

Can I ask witnesses to speak for me?

You can ask individuals to testify. After that, you must request the court to admit these witnesses for the defence.

Can I or my lawyer ask the other witnesses questions? Can we challenge what they say?

You are entitled to ask witnesses questions through the judge. You can challenge their testimonies and submit evidence proving their insincerity.

Will information about my criminal record be taken into account?

Information about your existing criminal record will be attached to the case file.

At what stage?

Information about the criminal record is usually attached to the file during the investigation, but it can also be requested afterwards.

Will previous convictions in another Member State be taken into account?

Judgements passed in another Member State are recognized.

What are the possible outcomes of the trial?

The two possible solutions are: acquittal or conviction.

In case of conviction, depending on the crime’s gravity, the penalty can be: life imprisonment, imprisonment for a period of time or a fine. In some cases, the court can suspend the sentence of imprisonment and impose certain obligations and liberty restrictions throughout the period that the sentence is suspended.

What is the role of the victim during the trial?

The victim can testify and can claim compensation. The victim is not required to participate in the trial, but may choose to claim compensation. The victim can participate in the process as early as the criminal investigation.

Last update: 15/02/2012

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