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Claiming damages from the offender - Portugal

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How can I claim compensation or any other form of redress or satisfaction to the offender (in the context of criminal proceedings)? Who should I apply?

In Portugal, compensation should be applied for in criminal proceedings. The facts which are the subject of the criminal proceedings may also give rise to civil liability, in so far as it affects pecuniary interest, in accordance with civil law.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (PPC) results in the principle of accession, according to which a claim for civil damages based on the commission of a criminal offence is to be deducted in the relevant criminal proceedings, and can only be brought to a civil court in the cases provided for by law and set out in that Code.

In the situation where the victim is resident in a Member State of the European Union and is a victim of crime in a Member State other than that of his/her residence, he/she may apply for compensation to the authority which has jurisdiction to hear and determine such claims in his or her State of residence, which shall forward such request to the competent authority of the State where the offence occurred.

At which point in the criminal proceedings should I present a claim?

The victim should indicate the wish to apply for compensation at the time of lodging the complaint or until the end of the investigation, the victim shall then be notified of the indictment and shall have 20 days in which to submit such a claim.

Even if no claim for compensation has been made, the judge may, on his own initiative and having regard to the victim’s situation, order the accused to pay compensation for the damage suffered, unless the victim objects.

In the case of victims of violent crime, the claim may be submitted up to one year after the final decision.

If the victim is a minor at the time of the crime, he or she may submit the request for up to one year after reaching the age of majority or being emancipated.

What can I request and how should I make the request? Should I indicate a global amount and/or specify the actual damage, loss of earnings and interest?

The request for redress may be requested because of the occurrence of:

  • Pecuniary damage: these include the damage caused by crime (which are, for example, the costs of hospital treatment, consultations, medicines, etc.) and the benefits that the victim has ceased to receive (which are, for example, the wages you have been unable to receive while you were incapable).
  • Moral damages: although they cannot be economically assessed, they can at least be compensated economically (e.g. damage to welfare, honour, good name, i.e. physical pain, mental impairment, emotional suffering).

Is there a specific form for such claims?

No. A request must contain a brief description of the facts on which the application is based and must indicate the damage suffered and the amount of the damage sustained.

However, if the request exceeds EUR 5000, a fee will have to be paid and the application must be submitted by a lawyer.

State compensation

  1. In the case of a violent crime, there may be an advance by the State and there is a separate form indicating the amount of compensation sought, together with some documents, such as the tax return of the victim and the claimant (if different) for the year prior to the crime, and documents certifying the expenditure indicated on the form.
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  2. In the event of domestic violence, there may be an advance by the State and there is a separate form, together with the same documents as referred to in (a).
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What evidence do I need to present to support my claim?

The victim must present all the documents showing the damage he has suffered (see paragraph 1.1). He shall also present a witness who can demonstrate and enhance his claim.

Are there courts fees or other costs linked to my claim?

Where the application is less than EUR 5000, no fees may be paid and may be submitted by the victim itself.

If the application exceeds EUR 5000, the claim must be submitted by a lawyer representing the victim and subject to the payment of court fees, unless the victim is eligible for legal aid.

In the case of victims of violent crime and domestic violence, the advance is sent to the Crime Victims Protection Board (CPVC) and is exempt from any costs or charges for the victim.

If the crime was committed on the territory of another EU Member State, the application may be submitted to CPVC provided that the applicant is habitually resident in Portugal

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?

Yes, you can apply for legal aid in one or other situation.

The victim has the right to legal consultation and advice on its role during the proceedings.

When seeking to be an assistant or civil party, you should apply for legal aid at an early stage of the proceedings or when, being a witness, you wish to be accompanied by a lawyer and have no economic means to bear their own costs.

You may also apply for legal aid for:

  • Remission, in whole or in part, of the court fee;
  • Appointment and payment of lawyer’s fees; or
  • Phased payment of the court fee or lawyer’s fees.

Note: A person who decides on legal aid applications is the social security system, on the basis of a calculation formula which takes account of the applicant’s assets, income and expenses. The application for legal aid shall be made available free of charge by the social security services and may be submitted in person, by fax, post or via the Internet, in this case by filling in the relevant digital form. The application shall be accompanied by a series of documents serving to confirm the applicant’s economic difficulties, the decision being taken within a maximum of 30 days. The submission of this claim does not entail any costs for the victim.

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When would the criminal court dismiss or refuse to adjudicate on my claim against the offender?

Where there is no conviction for committing the offence.

If the victim does not prove the damage he has suffered.

Can I appeal against such a decision or seek other means of redress/satisfaction?

Yes. You may lodge an appeal against the decision if you are an assistant in the proceedings.

It may also use the ordinary means (Civil Courts) if the application has, for some reason, not been assessed.

If I am awarded damages by the court, how can I ensure that the judgment against the offender is enforced? What kind of support will I receive?

Yes. If the defendant does not voluntarily pay compensation, the victim may proceed with an enforcement action, that is to say, ask the Court to enforce the compensation decision by, for example, the attachment order, bank accounts, real estate or furniture, up to the value of the compensation which has been awarded to the victim.

This is a machine translated version of the content. The owner of this page accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the quality of this machine translated text.

Last update: 27/08/2019