Can I appeal against a sentence or if the defendant is declared not guilty?
The trial concludes with the court convicting the defendant or declaring him/her not guilty. If convicted, the defendant will be sentenced. This could involve an imprisonment, a fine or some other form of penalty. You can appeal against the verdict or the penalty only if you have participated in the proceedings as a civil claimant (1), additional private prosecutor (2) and/or private prosecutor (3). If you were a civil claimant (1), you can appeal only as far as your civil claim is concerned.
You need to submit your appeal within fifteen days from the date you were informed of the sentence. The appeal court rules on the correctness of the whole sentence regardless of the appeal grounds you have stated. It can establish new facts and can look at all types of evidence.
Appeals have to be made in writing and signed and should state:
- the court to which they are submitted;
- relevant personal information;
- what you are asking the court to do;
- why are you appealing; and
- any evidence you want the court to collect.
The court to which you are appealing may:
- refer the case back to the first instance court;
- modify the sentence or issue a new one;
- close or suspend criminal proceedings; or
- uphold the sentence.
Is further appeal possible?
If you have participated as a civil claimant (1), additional private prosecutor (2) and/or private prosecutor (3), you can further appeal against the court’s decision before the Supreme Cassation Court within fifteen days of being informed of it.
The appeal has to be made in writing and signed and should contain:
- relevant personal information;
- the part of the sentence or decision against which you are appealing;
- the reason for the appeal (violation of law, serious violation of procedural rules or unfair penalty) and
- what you are asking the court to do.
The Supreme Cassation Court may:
- uphold the sentence or modify it;
- close or suspend proceedings; or
- refer the case back to one of the previous courts.
What rights do I have after the court sentence enters into force?
If the sentence has not been appealed or once the appeal procedure is finished, the sentence enters into force and your role in the proceedings is generally over. In some cases, you can continue to benefit from the special protection programme (4) if you have been placed under such during the proceedings.
The law does not provide you with the right to get information about the release of the perpetrator or to participate in the work of the authorities involved in the early release or amnesty procedures.
- Criminal Procedure Code (Наказателно-процесуален кодекс) – in Bulgarian
- Law on Protection of Persons in Criminal Procedure (Закон за защита на лица, застрашени във връзка с наказателно производство) – in Bulgarian
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Last update: 17/12/2018