How can I claim damages or other means of redress/satisfaction from an offender in a trial (criminal proceedings), and who should I address this claim to?
At the pre-trial stage of criminal proceedings, you should declare that you wish to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party when you submit a complaint to the appropriate public prosecutor or police authorities, in which case you should make the declaration in the complaint itself. You can also make such a declaration during the investigation of the crime, in a separate procedural document (dikógrafo) giving notice to the police, the public prosecutor or the investigating authorities, and you can even make a declaration directly to the court as long as it has not begun to examine the evidence (Articles 82-83 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
At which point in the criminal proceedings should I present a claim?
(A) At the pre-trial stage, as outlined above (Article 83 of the Code of Criminal Procedure)
(B) In court, by simple oral statement before the taking of evidence begins, without the need for any written pre-trial procedure, if you are seeking compensation for pain and suffering and non-material damage suffered because of the crime committed against you, or by service of notice on the accused person at least five days before the date of the hearing, if you are seeking compensation for material damage (Article 68 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
What can I ask for in the claim and how should I present it (indicate a total amount and/or specify the individual losses, lost profits and interests)?
In general, the declaration that you wish to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party must comprise a summary of the case, the reasons why you believe you are entitled to join the proceedings, and the appointment of a person authorised to accept service at the place where the court has its seat, if you are not permanently resident there.
If the declaration that you wish to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party concerns a claim for compensation for pain and suffering and non-material damage, no written procedure is required. In these cases, the civil party usually applies for a symbolic sum (EUR 44 without prejudice (me epifelaksi)) and not the entire amount of the claim. If the court declares the accused guilty, it will order that you be paid this symbolic sum in compensation. For the remainder, you will have to bring a separate legal action before the civil courts. If your claim concerns the recovery of material damage caused to you by the offence, you must serve notice on the defendant at least five days before the trial, giving a breakdown into individual heads of damages (Article 68 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
Is there a specific form for such claims?
No specific form is provided. Your statement must contain all the above. As stated above, a specific pre-trial procedure is required only when the criminal court is asked to make good the material damage, in which case notice must be served on the accused five days before the hearing.
What evidence do I need to present to support my claim?
Before the hearing of the case, you have to produce whatever documents you have proving your claim, i.e. medical certificates, statements, witnesses and any other evidence.
Are there courts fees or other costs linked to my claim?
You must pay a civil action fee of EUR 40 (Article 63 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as applicable since 23 January 2017, following amendment by Law 4446/2016.
Can I get legal aid before and/or during the proceedings? Can I get it if I’m not living in the country where the proceedings take place?
The law (Article 1 of Law 3226/2004) provides for legal aid to low-income citizens of an EU Member State, third-country nationals and stateless persons if they are legally resident or have their habitual residence in the European Union. Low-income citizens entitled to legal aid are those whose annual family income does not exceed two thirds of the minimum annual personal income defined in the National General Collective Labour Agreement. In the case of a domestic dispute, the income of the other party to the dispute is disregarded. Legal aid in any criminal or civil claims is also available to all victims of the crimes referred to in Articles 323 (trafficking in slaves), 323A (human trafficking, slavery or servitude and forced marriage), 323B(a) (arranging travel for the purpose of participating in acts of sexual intercourse or other indecent acts involving a minor (sex tourism)), 324 (abduction of a minor), 339 (corruption of a minor), 348A (child pornography), and 351A (indecent acts involving a minor for payment) of the Criminal Code and in Articles 87(5) and (6) (facilitation of entry to Greece, exit from Greece or illegal residence in Greece of a third-country national) and 88 (Illegal transport of third-country nationals into Greece) of Law 3386/2005, and to minors who are victims of the acts referred to in Articles 336 (rape), 338 (sexual abuse), 343 (indecent acts with abuse of authority), 345 (incest), 346 (indecent acts between relatives), 347 (indecent acts contrary to nature — this offence has since been abolished), 348 (facilitating the debauchery of others), 348B (soliciting children for sexual purposes), 348C (pornographic representations of minors), and 349 (procuring prostitution) of the Criminal Code.
When would the criminal court dismiss or refuse to adjudicate on my claim against the offender?
If the criminal court decides that the criminal prosecution should not proceed or should be dismissed for any reason, it cannot consider the civil action. It will also dismiss a civil action if it has not been lawfully filed as described above, or if it is without foundation in law, or if the claim is unfounded on the merits, for example because you have not suffered directly as a result of the crime or you are not the holder of the legal interest concerned.
Can I appeal against such a decision or seek other means of redress/satisfaction?
You may lodge an ordinary appeal (efesi) against an acquittal by the district criminal court, the single-member or three-member court of first instance or the court of appeal for misdemeanours (plimellima) if you are ordered to pay compensation and costs and only on that ground (Article 486(1b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure). You can also bring an ordinary appeal against a judgment convicting the accused in so far as it dismissed your claim on the ground that it has no foundation in law or awarded you financial or material compensation if the total amount sought exceeded EUR 100 if the appeal is against a judgment of the district criminal court, EUR 250 if it is against a judgment of the single-member court of first instance or the single-member juvenile court, or EUR 500 if it is against a judgment of the three-member court of first instance or the three-member juvenile court (Article 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). You can bring an appeal on a point of law (anaferesi) against a judgment convicting the accused in so far as it dismisses your claim on the ground that it has no foundation in law (Article 505(1c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure) or against an acquittal if you have been ordered to pay compensation and costs (Article 505(1c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
If I am awarded damages by the court, how do I ensure the judgment is enforced against the offender and what help can I get to ensure this?
The compensation awarded by the criminal court is essentially an award for a civil claim. It is therefore enforced by the enforcement process for civil judgments (anankastikí ektélesis).
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