How can I be involved in the trial?
You can participate in the trial as:
- a witness;
- a victim; and/or
- a civil party.
If you have been admitted to participate in the proceedings as a victim or as a civil party during the investigation you will continue to have the same status during the trial as well. If you have missed this opportunity you can still request to participate as a victim and/or civil party during the trial before the announcement of the charges. The judge will explain to you how to submit your request.
In general, court hearings are open to the public and you can attend irrespective of your role in the proceedings. Due to security or privacy concerns the court may decide to hold a private hearing. In this case you will be able to attend only if you have the formal status of victim or civil party.
Your presence in the courtroom during the trial is obligatory only when you are called for an interview as a witness.
If you have acquired the formal status of victim or civil party you can play a more active role and have a broader range of rights. You can make comments, objections and requests during the hearing. You can also check all the documents in the case file unless the court has classified some of them as confidential.
What are my rights as a witness?
If you are not participating in the trial as a victim and/or civil party the court will most probably call you for an interview as a witness. When you are called for an interview you have to attend the court hearing. You can refuse to give a statement as a witness if you are a spouse or close relative to the defendant.
At the beginning of you interview the judge will ask you for your name, age, address, occupation and relationship with the defendant. Then you will be asked to take an oath that you will tell the truth. After you take an oath the judge will give you information about the case you are participating in and will ask you to tell everything you know about the incident. When you finish your statement the judge may ask you additional questions in relation to what you have said. You can refuse to answer questions that may result in revealing a professional secret you are obliged to keep.
I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?
If you are a child and you have to be interviewed you can request the performance of your interview outside the courtroom in the presence of a psychologist. You can also ask for the holding of a private court hearing.
You are entitled to have a lawyer during the trial. The court will assist you in finding a lawyer if you do not have one. If your family cannot pay for the lawyer’s fee, legal assistance will be provided free of charge. Your parents or guardian can also accompany you during the hearings.
Can I receive legal aid?
You can receive legal aid free of charge if:
- you are victim of a specific crime (1) or you are spouse, child or another person dependant on the victim who has died as a result of such a crime;
- your monthly income per family member before tax does not exceed the minimum monthly wage determined by the Government;
- you have reported the crime to the police within 60 days of it being committed or within 60 days of the cessation of serious circumstances (e.g. illness) that have prevented you from reporting on time;
- you are the injured party and/or the civil party and the judge decided that you would not be able to take care of your own defence.
If you wish to receive free legal aid you have to inform the judge dealing with your case and he/she will make the necessary arrangements. Legal aid free of charge is available until the end of the trial.
How can I get protection, if I am in danger?
If you have been called for an interview as a witness and you are afraid for your life or health you can ask the judge to perform the interview through audio or video conference so that you do not need to be present in the courtroom. You can also request the presence of a person from the local Probation Service (specialised services attached to the courts) to be present during your interview.
For some serious crimes like human trafficking you can request the holding of a private hearing. The witness may be attributed a different identity under which to appear in front of the judicial body and can also benefit from police protection.
If you have not been placed under a special witness protection programme during the investigation you can ask the court to do so during the trial. The special protection programme may include measures for your safety (e.g. secret identity, police protection and escort, relocation or change of identity) and measures for your social integration (e.g. reinsertion in a different social environment, provision of new professional qualifications, new job or temporary financial support). If necessary, your close relatives (spouse, children, parents, etc.) can also be covered by the witness protection programme.
Additional protection is available depending on the type of crime:
- If you are a victim of domestic violence you can ask the court to ban the offender from staying at your shared home. Alternatively, you (and your children if necessary) can be accommodated in a centre for victims of domestic violence.
- If you are a victim of human trafficking you can be accommodated in a centre for victims’ protection. Accommodation is usually available for a period of 10 days but the court may extend your stay until the end of the proceedings.
How can I claim damages from the offender or receive compensation from the State?
You can claim financial and moral damages from the offender by filing a civil claim, during the trial or separately in a civil court. In your claim you have to indicate the amount of the requested compensation.You can submit your claim:
- to the public prosecutor in charge of your case during the investigation; or
- to the court during the trial before the public prosecutor reads the charges.
When you file a civil claim you will receive the status of civil party. As a civil party you can present evidence supporting your claim. If the alleged offender is convicted the court will order the offender to pay you financial compensation and reimburse you for the expenses you have made in relation to the case.
You can also apply for compensation from the State if you are a victim of a specific crime (1). Please consult the factsheet on compensation to victims of crime in Romania (available in English, Romanian and multiple other languages) of the European Judicial Network.
Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?
Mediation is possible for less serious crimes listed in the law. You as well as the offender can ask for a mediation procedure at any time during the trial before the court makes its final decision on the case. The procedure is voluntary and can be applied only if both you and the offender agree to participate. You will be invited to a serious of meetings with the offender and a mediator to discuss the possibilities for reconciliation. If the procedure concludes with reconciliation the case will be closed. Otherwise, the criminal proceedings will continue as if no mediation has ever started.
If you are a victim of domestic violence you can resort to mediation done by the family council (all the adult members of the family) or by a professional mediator. This type of mediation will not affect the criminal proceedings.
I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?
If you are a foreigner who has suffered from a crime in Romania you can benefit from all the rights explained above. You also have some additional rights to facilitate your participation in the procedure.
If you do not speak Romanian you will be provided with an interpreter free of charge to assist you throughout the trial.
If you are a victim of human trafficking you can be accommodated in special shelters and benefit from psychological counselling and medical assistance.
You can also claim financial compensation from the state, if you have been the victim of: murder, attempted murder, aggravated murder, injury, rape, sex with a minor.
- Code of Criminal Procedure (Codul de procedură penală) – in Romanian
- Law no. 678/2001 regarding the prevention and countering of human trafficking (Legea 678/2001 privind prevenirea si combaterea traficului de persoane) – in Romanian
- Government Decision 299/2003 regarding approval of the Regulation for implementation of the Law 678/2001 (Hotararea de Guvern 299/2003 privind Regulamentulul de aplicare a Legii 678/2001) – in Romanian
- Law 211/2004 regarding some measures to protect victims of crime (Legea 211/2004 privind unele masuri pentru asigurarea protectiei victimelor infractiunilor) – in Romanian
- Emergency Ordinance 113/2007 to modify Law 211/2004 regarding some measures to protect victims of crime (Ordonanţă de Urgenţă nr.113/2007 pentru modificarea şi completarea Legii nr. 211/2004 privind unele măsuri pentru asigurarea protecţiei victimelor infracţiunilor) – in Romanian
- Government Decision 1238/2007 regarding the approval of national specific standards for assistance services to victims of trafficking (Hotărârea Guvernului nr. 1238 din 10 octombrie 2007 pentru aprobarea Standardelor naţionale specifice pentru serviciile specializate de asistenţă a victimelor traficului de persoane – in Romanian
- Law 217/2002 regarding the prevention of domestic violence (Legea 217/2003 pentru prevenirea si combaterea violentei in familie) – in Romanian
- Law 272/2004 for promoting and protecting the child rights (Legea 272/2004 pentru promovarea si protectia drepturilor copilului) – in Romanian
- Law 682/2002 regarding witness protection (Legea 682/2002 privind protectia martorilor) – in Romanian
- Law 192/2006 regarding mediation and the organisation of the mediator profession (Legea 192/2006 privind mediaerea si organizarea profesiei de mediator)
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