How and where can I report a crime?
If you have suffered from or otherwise learned about a crime you can report it:
- to the police: by phone (02 and 112 for landline phones and 112 for mobile phones), by letter (sent by post, fax or e-mail), by going to the nearest police station or online through the Application to the State Police E-Service;
- to the public prosecution service: by letter (sent by post, fax or e-mail) or by going to the public prosecutor’s office.
You can report a crime in any language. If you do not speak Latvian translation will be provided free of charge.
There is no obligatory form you should follow when reporting a crime. If you report in writing you have to include information about yourself (name and surname), a detailed description of the incident, and your contact details (telephone number and e-mail).
There is no deadline for reporting a crime. However, there is a certain period of time specified in the law (ranging from six months to 15 years depending on the crime), after which you can still submit a report but the offender will not be prosecuted.
How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?
Your report will be registered and you will be given a reference number. You can check how your case is proceeding by using this reference number. Inquiries can also be made by date of reporting or by the name of the person who has reported the crime.
You can check the progress of your case by:
- going to the police station or the public prosecutor’s office;
- calling by phone;
- sending a letter.
How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?
You will receive an official letter informing you whether an investigation will be opened on your case. If the decision is to close the case without opening an investigation you have the right to appeal. The deadline for submitting the appeal is ten days following the receipt of the letter. If the decision to close the case has been made by a police officer your appeal should be submitted to the public prosecutor; if a public prosecutor has made the decision the appeal should be submitted to the superior public prosecutor.
If you wish, you can present additional information at any time during the investigation:
- orally to the police officer in charge of your case, who will write it down in a record; or
- in writing by sending a letter.
In the course of the investigation you will probably be interviewed by the police. You can change, clarify or supplement your testimony after the interview by:
- informing the police that you wish to provide additional information, in which case the police will call you for a second interview; or
- sending additional information in writing to the public prosecutor or the police officer.
You can authorise any person above 18 years of age to represent you. People with mental disabilities are represented by their trustees, close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, etc.) or representatives of non-governmental organisations.
You can use the assistance of a lawyer. You can choose a lawyer from the online database of lawyers, which offers a full list of lawyers and their contact details. The lawyer’s services will be free of charge if you qualify for legal aid.
You can ask the police officer or the public prosecutor to formally recognise you as a victim. There is no deadline for making the request. If the police officer rejects your request you can appeal against his/her decision to the public prosecutor supervising your case. If the refusal comes from the public prosecutor you can appeal to the superior public prosecutor.
If your spouse, parent, child or other close relative has died as a result of the crime you can also ask to be considered a victim and participate in the criminal proceedings as such.
As a victim you can receive information about the proceedings by asking questions to the public prosecutor or the police, by checking the contents of the case file and by requesting and receiving copies of documents.
You do not need to prove anything in relation to the crime. The public prosecutor and the police are responsible for this. You can provide information to facilitate the investigation and propose investigative actions. Only if you are victim of a less serious offence (e.g. slight bodily injury), will you have to prove the case in court and you will need to collect and present all the evidence.
You can request reimbursement for the expenses related to your participation in the proceedings. Requests are presented to the police or the public prosecution service depending on the investigative action you have participated in. There is no deadline for claiming reimbursement. You can request reimbursement for:
- travel expenses: public transport or personal vehicle excluding taxi;
- accommodation: up to 30 Lats (approximately 42 euro) per night in Riga and up to 20 Lats (approximately 28 euro) per night in another place;
- compensation for lost remuneration;
- other related expenses.
What are my rights as a witness?
If you are called for an interview as a witness you will receive information about the criminal proceedings for which you will be interviewed and the identity and position of the official conducting the interview. Before the interview you will be informed about your rights and duties as a witness. The authorities are also obliged to inform you of how they will record the interview.
As a witness you can:
- make notes and additions to the record or request to write your statement by hand in a language that you understand;
- refuse to testify yourself or against your close relatives;
- submit a complaint to the investigating judge if a private secret has been disclosed;
- have a lawyer.
You are obliged not to disclose any information about the investigation you have learned during your interview.
If you are formally recognised as a victim and are interviewed in the course of the investigation as a witness, you will benefit from all the rights of a victim as well.
If you are not formally recognised as a victim and are participating in the proceedings only as a witness, you will have fewer possibilities to be informed about the investigation. However, if you are in danger you will have the same rights to protection measures as the victim.
You can receive reimbursement for your costs related to your testimony.
I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?
If you are a child under 18 years of age your parents or guardian will represent you during the investigation. Your grandparents or your elder brother or sister (provided they are above 18 years of age) can also represent you if you have lived with them and they have been taking care of you. In some specific cases (e.g. when you do not have such relatives) a representative of a governmental agency or non-governmental organisation will represent you. The public prosecutor will assign a lawyer to represent you if he/she believes that the other persons mentioned above would not adequately protect your interests.
If you have suffered from violent crime you will receive special medical and social rehabilitation assistance. Depending on the case, such assistance can be provided at your home or in a specialised facility.
What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?
The police officer or the public prosecutor will inform you about your rights if you have been formally recognised as a victim or if you have been called for an interview as a witness. In practice, the information is provided orally when you appear at the police or the public prosecutor’s office.
Can I receive legal aid?
You can receive legal aid free of charge if you want to have a lawyer but because of your low income, specific status (e.g. person in need) or other exceptional circumstances (e.g. natural disaster) you cannot pay for the services of a lawyer.
Legal aid free of charge is also available to people who are dependent on the State (e.g. elderly or ill people accommodated in social rehabilitation institutions, children without parents living in social care homes, etc.).
How can I get protection, if I am in danger?
If you are afraid of the offender you can ask the public prosecutor or the police officer to issue an order prohibiting him/her from approaching you, getting in physical or visual contact with you and talking to you on the phone or communicating with you by other means.
Additional protection is available if you are a victim or a witness and you are afraid that your testimony may put you in danger. Such protection is also available to the persons close to you who might be in danger because of your participation in the proceedings as well as to other persons involved in the detection and investigation of the crime.
You can be placed under special protection before and/or after the opening of the investigation.
Protection measures may include:
- personal protection;
- measures ensuring that your communications are not wiretapped and your correspondence is not opened;
- relocation to a secret place, including relocation abroad;
- issuance of personal documents (e.g. passport) with another identity;
- change of permanent residence or place of work;
- non-disclosure of your personal data available in publicly accessible information systems;
- insurance of personal property.
If you wish to be placed under special protection you have to submit a written request to the public prosecutor or the police officer in charge of your case. The public prosecutor or the police officer will examine your request and if he/she decides that you need protection, your request will be forwarded to the Prosecutor General who will specify the measures to be taken. The decision on your request must be taken within 10 days.
If you have been placed under special protection you will be interviewed by a representative of the special police unit called Persons Protection Bureau. Your name will be replaced by a pseudonym in all documents related to the case. The address for communicating with you will be the address of the Persons Protection Bureau. If you have to attend investigative actions together with other people your identity will be kept secret by using special technical means. You will also have the right not to answer questions that may reveal your identity.
What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?
You can receive medical assistance free of charge if you have a valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the European Health Insurance Card. Some healthcare services, e.g. emergency medical care, are free of charge irrespective of whether you have a health insurance or not.
You can receive psychological assistance but you have to pay for it. If the police officer finds it necessary he/she can ask the Crisis Centre (a social institution for the provision of short-term psychological and other types of assistance to persons in crisis situation) to provide a psychologist to assist you.
If you have suffered from a violent crime or you are a victim of human trafficking you can receive social rehabilitation services free of charge.
Psychological assistance and social rehabilitation services free of charge are also available to people with low income.
Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?
During the investigation you can request or be invited to participate in a procedure called “victim – offender mediation”. Its objective is to help you reconcile with the offender and reach an agreement on how to rectify the consequences of the crime. During the procedure you will participate in a series of meetings with the offender in the presence of a person called a “mediator”, who will help you to reach conciliation.
Mediation is a voluntary procedure. You can refuse to participate both before and during the procedure.
The main institution offering mediation services is the State Probation Service. You can contact the mediation department of the State Probation Service by phone (+371 67021176) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The services provided by the State Probation Service are free of charge.
Some non-governmental organisations also offer mediation services. One such organisation is the Victims Support Centre. The services provided by the Victims Support Centre are not free of charge: only the first meeting is free, thereafter there is a fee of 50 Lats (approximately 70 euro) per hour.
How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?
At the end of the investigation the public prosecutor has to decide how to proceed with the case. If the public prosecutor believes that there is sufficient evidence for prosecuting the offender he/she will bring the case to the court for trial. Otherwise, if the collected evidence is not enough, the public prosecutor will close the case.
Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?
If the public prosecutor decides to close the case without bringing it to court you will receive a notification. You can appeal against the public prosecutor’s decision before the superior public prosecutor. The deadline for submitting the appeal is 10 days.
I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?
If you are a foreigner you can benefit from all the rights described above. You also have some additional rights to facilitate your participation in the proceedings.
If you do not speak Latvian you can use any language you understand. The police and the public prosecutor are obliged to provide you with an interpreter free of charge. If a document is issued in the course of the investigation, which concerns you, it will also be translated, free of charge.
You can receive legal aid free of charge if you are citizen of the European Union, you legally reside on the territory of Latvia and you cannot pay for the services of a lawyer.
- Law on Police (Likums par Policiju) – in English and Latvian
- Criminal Law (Krimināllikums) – in English and Latvian
- Criminal Procedure Law (Kriminālprocesa likums) – in English and Latvian
- Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office (Prokuratūras likums) – in English and Latvian
- Medical Treatment Law (Ārstniecības likums) – in English and Latvian
- Procedures for the Organisation and Financing of Health Care (Veselības aprūpes organizēšanas un finansēšanas kārtība) – in Latvian
- Law on Social Services and Social Assistance (Sociālo pakalpojumu un sociālās palīdzības likums) – in English and Latvian
- Rules of Criminal Procedure Reimbursement Arrangements and the Extent (Noteikumi par kriminālprocesuālo izdevumu atlīdzināšanas kārtību un apmēru) – in Latvian
- Procedures for Providing the Necessary Assistance to the Child, Who Suffered from Illegal Actions (Kārtība, kādā nepieciešamo palīdzību sniedz bērnam, kurš cietis no prettiesiskām darbībām) – in Latvian
- Law on the Residence of Victims of the Trafficking in Human Beings in the Republic of Latvia (Par cilvēku tirdzniecības upura uzturēšanos Latvijas Republikā) – in Latvian
- Rules on Procedures for Trafficking Victims Receive Social Rehabilitation Services, and the Criteria for the Recognition of Human Trafficking Victims (Noteikumi par kārtību, kādā cilvēku tirdzniecības upuri saņem sociālās rehabilitācijas pakalpojumus, un kritērijiem personas atzīšanai par cilvēku tirdzniecības upuri) – in Latvian
- Special Persons Protection Law (Personu speciālās aizsardzības likums) – in English and Latvian
- State Ensured Legal Aid Law (Valsts nodrošinātās juridiskās palīdzības likums) – in English and Latvian
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