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Last update: 19-05-2009
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Compensation to crime victims - Latvia

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Obtaining compensation in the form of damages from the offender 1.
1.1. Under what conditions can I make a claim for damages in a trial (criminal proceedings) against an offender? 1.1.
1.2. At which point in the proceedings should I present a claim? 1.2.
1.3. How should I put forward the claim, and to whom? 1.3.
1.4. How should I present my claim (indicate a total amount and/or specify the individual losses)? 1.4.
1.5. Can I get legal aid before and/or during the proceedings? 1.5.
1.6. What evidence will I be required to present in support of my claim? 1.6.
1.7. If I am awarded damages by the court, is there any special assistance available to me as a crime victim for the enforcement of the judgment against the offender? 1.7.
2. Obtaining compensation from the state or a public body 2.
2.1. Is it possible to obtain compensation from the State or a public body? 2.1.
2.2. Is this possibility limited to victims that have suffered certain types of crime? 2.2.
2.3. Is this possibility limited to victims that have sustained certain types of injury? 2.3.
2.4. Can relatives or dependants of victims that have died as a result of a crime obtain compensation? 2.4.
2.5. Is the possibility of obtaining compensation limited to persons of a certain nationality or persons residing in a certain country? 2.5.
2.6. Can I apply for compensation in a different Member State if the crime was committed in another country? If so, under what conditions? 2.6.
2.7. Is it necessary to report the crime to the police? 2.7.
2.8. Is it necessary to await the outcome of any police investigations or criminal proceedings before I can apply? 2.8.
2.9. If the offender has been identified, is it necessary to first try to get compensation from the offender? 2.9.
2.10. If the offender has not been identified or convicted, is it still possible to qualify for compensation? If so, what evidence do I need to supply in support of my application? 2.10.
2.11. Is there a time limit for making the application for compensation? 2.11.
2.12. For which losses can I be compensated? 2.12.
2.13. How will the compensation be calculated? 2.13.
2.14. Is there a minimum and/or maximum amount that can be awarded? 2.14.
2.15. Will compensation that I have received, or may receive, for the same losses but from other sources (such as insurance) be deducted from compensation paid by the State? 2.15.
2.16. Are there any other criteria that can influence my chance of receiving compensation, or how the amount of compensation is calculated, such as my own behaviour in relation to the event that caused the injury? 2.16.
2.17. Can I get an advance on the compensation? If yes, under what conditions? 2.17.
2.18. Where can I get the necessary forms and further information on how to apply? Is there a special help line or website that I can use? 2.18.
2.19. Can I get legal aid for making the application? 2.19.
2.20. Where do I send the application? 2.20.
2.21. Are there any victim support organisations that can give further assistance? 2.21.

 

1. Obtaining compensation in the form of damages from the offender

1.1. Under what conditions can I make a claim for damages in a trial (criminal proceedings) against an offender?

The Act on Criminal Procedures sets out rules for the submission of claims for damages by crime victims. Compensation is a procedural element of criminal law and is payable by the defendant on a voluntary basis or by order of a court. If a victim believes that the compensation awarded does not cover all the damages suffered, he or she is entitled to submit a claim for damages under procedures laid down in the Act on Criminal Procedures. Damages awarded take into account the amount of any compensation granted during criminal proceedings. If a claim for compensation of damages is not submitted or not heard during the course of criminal proceedings a claim can be made under civil procedures. Victims making claims for damages under these procedures are exempt from State fees.

Where damages have been suffered by a minor the victim is represented by:

  1. their mother, father or guardian;
  2. one of their grandparents or an adult sibling where the minor has been living with one of these relatives and the relative has been taking care of the minor;
  3. a representative of an institution for the protection of children's rights;
  4. an NGO representative whose role is to defend children's rights.
1.2. At which point in the proceedings should I present a claim?

Victims are entitled to submit claims for compensation of damages at any stage during criminal proceedings up to the start of the judicial enquiry.

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If a claim for compensation of damages is not submitted or not heard during the course of criminal proceedings a claim can be made by means of a written application to the court.

1.3. How should I put forward the claim, and to whom?

Victims are entitled to submit claims for compensation of damages at any stage during criminal proceedings up to the start of the judicial enquiry. Applications can be made in writing or orally to the authority conducting the proceedings – the State institution/official in charge of instigating and conducting the proceedings and adopting decisions on the progress of proceedings, and responsible for the course of the proceedings and their result (the court, judge, prosecutor or investigating authority). Applications submitted orally are entered in case records by the official leading the proceedings. The prosecutor records applications made during the pre-trial investigation together with the amount of compensation claimed in a document on the completion of pre-trial proceedings.

If a claim for compensation of damages is not submitted or not heard during the course of criminal proceedings a claim can be made under civil procedures by means of a written application to the court. Applications must comply with the general provisions of the Act on Civil Procedures relating to the submission of claims.

1.4. How should I present my claim (indicate a total amount and/or specify the individual losses)?

In an application for compensation of damages the victim must state the total amount of compensation being claimed and substantiate this amount (see question 1.3.).

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1.5. Can I get legal aid before and/or during the proceedings?

The State ensures the provision of legal aid where the victim of a crime needs legal aid to establish his or her rights and obligations, to draw up a claim and to apply for compensation during the proceedings.

The State also provides Legal Aid to persons bringing an action for compensation of damages under civil procedures (see the subject Legal Aid).

(see section 2).

1.6. What evidence will I be required to present in support of my claim?

An application by a victim for compensation or a claim by a victim under civil proceedings must include all relevant evidence substantiating the claim.

1.7. If I am awarded damages by the court, is there any special assistance available to me as a crime victim for the enforcement of the judgment against the offender?

The party enforcing a judgment is exempt from payment to the bailiff of expenses relating to the enforcement where a claim relates to disablement or other damage to physical wellbeing resulting from personal injury or where the person concerned has died. Here the State covers the costs of enforcing the judgment.

In civil cases victims can claim legal aid from the State up to time the judgment has been enforced.

2. Obtaining compensation from the state or a public body

2.1. Is it possible to obtain compensation from the State or a public body?

The Act on State Compensation to Victims sets out the possibility of receiving compensation from the State. Under this Act natural persons recognised as victims under the Act on Criminal Procedures are entitled to receive State compensation for moral injury resulting from intentional criminal acts, physical suffering or material losses, where the crime in question targeted the person's life or physical wellbeing or was a sexual offence.

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Any person recognised as disadvantaged or poor, or who, in view of their personal circumstances, proprietorial status and level of income is unable to provide for their own defence, is entitled to State legal aid.

To receive State compensation a victim must submit to the Legal Aid Administration a claim for State compensation by means of a completed State compensation application form, the template for which is approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

If criminal proceedings are ongoing when a claim for State compensation is submitted the victim must attach to the State compensation application form a report by the official leading the proceedings giving:

  1. the time the violent crime was committed and the place in which it occurred;
  2. the classification of the violent crime, the date criminal proceedings were launched and the case number;
  3. information on the person recognised as the victim in the case (first name, last name, personal identification number, address, contact information);
  4. description of the injuries incurred as a result of the violent crime (degree of physical injury or indications attesting to the perpetration of a sexual offence);
  5. date and code number of the specialist's report and the name of the examining specialist;
  6. information relating to the suspect or defendant in criminal proceedings, if the release of such information does not hinder establishment of the facts of the case.
2.2. Is this possibility limited to victims that have suffered certain types of crime?

State compensation is only payable to victims of violent crime if:

  • the crime targeted the person's life or physical wellbeing and the person concerned has died;
  • the crime targeted the person's life or physical wellbeing and the victim suffered serious physical injury;
  • the crime targeted the person's life or physical wellbeing and the victim suffered moderate physical injury (applicable to victims recognised as such after 1 July 2007);
  • the crime was of a sexual nature.
2.3. Is this possibility limited to victims that have sustained certain types of injury?

Entitlement to State compensation applies to natural persons who are crime victims (a decision must be adopted by the official conducting the proceedings recognising the person's status as a victim) and who have suffered damage as a result of an intentional criminal act. Damage includes physical suffering, material loss and also moral injury.

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2.4. Can relatives or dependants of victims that have died as a result of a crime obtain compensation?

If the crime targeted a person's life or physical wellbeing and the person concerned died, the surviving spouse, a relative in a direct ascending or descending line, an adoptive parent or a first degree collateral can be acknowledged as the victim in criminal proceedings.

2.5. Is the possibility of obtaining compensation limited to persons of a certain nationality or persons residing in a certain country?

Any person recognised as a victim under a decision adopted by the official conducting the proceedings can receive State compensation.

For compensation claims in cross-border cases see 2.6.

2.6. Can I apply for compensation in a different Member State if the crime was committed in another country? If so, under what conditions?

Persons permanently resident in another EU Member State can only apply for compensation for damages incurred as a result of a violent crime perpetrated within Latvian territory. A victim residing permanently in Latvia who has suffered injury as a result of a crime committed in another EU Member State is entitled to claim State compensation by submitting an application to a competent authority in the EU Member State concerned directly or with the mediation of the Legal Aid Administration.

2.7. Is it necessary to report the crime to the police?

The status of victim is accorded by means of a decision by the official conducting the proceedings or a member of the team carrying out the inquiry.

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To qualify for State compensation the following items must be attached to the application form:

  1. a report by the official leading the proceedings if criminal proceedings have not been completed at the time application is being made;
  2. a final ruling by the official leading the proceedings if, when the application for compensation is being made, criminal proceedings have been completed or a decision by the official leading the proceedings has come into force to terminate criminal proceedings on grounds that do not exonerate the person concerned.

Hence, if you wish to receive State compensation the crime must be reported to the police.

2.8. Is it necessary to await the outcome of any police investigations or criminal proceedings before I can apply?

No, a victim of a violent crime is entitled to State compensation even if the perpetrator or an accomplice have not been identified, or they are not criminally liable under the Criminal Code. State compensation can also be received while criminal proceedings are ongoing.

2.9. If the offender has been identified, is it necessary to first try to get compensation from the offender?

No, State compensation can be received regardless of whether the victim of a crime has received compensation from the perpetrator or an accomplice. Where a victim of violent crime has received compensation from the perpetrator or an accomplice and this is proved by means of a document certifying payment, the amount of State compensation payable is reduced by the amount of compensation already received.

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2.10. If the offender has not been identified or convicted, is it still possible to qualify for compensation? If so, what evidence do I need to supply in support of my application?

Yes, a victim of a violent crime is entitled to receive State compensation if the perpetrator or an accomplice have not been identified, or they are not criminally liable under the Criminal Code. In such cases a report by the official conducting the proceedings or the court's ruling on the person's release from criminal liability must be attached to the application for State compensation.

2.11. Is there a time limit for making the application for compensation?

Applications for State compensation must be submitted to the Legal Aid Administration within a year from the date on which the person concerned was recognised as a victim.

Where a crime targeted a person's physical wellbeing and the victim suffered moderate physical injury, only persons recognised as victims of such crimes after 1 July 2007 are entitled to apply to the Legal Aid Administration for State compensation.

2.12. For which losses can I be compensated?

State compensation is paid where the crime targeted a person's life or physical wellbeing and the person concerned has died, the victim has suffered serious or moderate physical injury, or the crime was a sexual offence.

2.13. How will the compensation be calculated?

Compensation is paid:

  1. at a rate of 100% where the person concerned has died;
  2. at a rate of 70% where the victim has suffered serious physical injury or a sexual offence has been perpetrated against the victim;
  3. at a rate of 50% where the victim has suffered moderate physical injury.

A person recognised as the victim of a crime is paid State compensation at a rate of 50% of the amount of State compensation set out above in Section 7(2) of the Act on State Compensation to Victims.

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Where a victim of a violent crime has received compensation from the perpetrator or an accomplice and this is proved by means of a document certifying payment, the amount of State compensation payable is reduced by the amount of compensation already received.

2.14. Is there a minimum and/or maximum amount that can be awarded?

Up to 1 January 2008 the maximum amount of State compensation payable to one victim of violent crime is the equivalent of five times the minimum monthly wage. After 1 January 2008 the maximum amount of State compensation payable to one victim of violent crime will be the equivalent of ten times the minimum monthly wage as laid down in the Republic of Latvia.

2.15. Will compensation that I have received, or may receive, for the same losses but from other sources (such as insurance) be deducted from compensation paid by the State?

State compensation to victims is paid pursuant to objectives set out in legislation; any insurance payments received by a person from an insurance company do not affect the amount of State compensation payable.

2.16. Are there any other criteria that can influence my chance of receiving compensation, or how the amount of compensation is calculated, such as my own behaviour in relation to the event that caused the injury?

The proportion of State compensation payable as set out in 2.13 above is reduced by 50% where a person is recognised as the victim of a crime whereby:

  • murder was committed in a sudden state of intense mental agitation in reaction to a violent act or serious defamation by the victim;
  • murder was committed as a result of an act exceeding the limits of necessary self-defence;
  • murder was committed as a result of an act exceeding the conditions for restraint;
  • serious or moderate physical injury was caused with intent in a sudden state of intense mental agitation in reaction to a violent act or serious defamation by the victim;
  • serious or moderate physical injury was caused with intent as a result of an act exceeding the limits of necessary self-defence, where such injury was not the result of an act of self-defence against a threat to the victim's life or rape;
  • physical injury was caused with intent, as a result of an act exceeding the conditions for restraint.
2.17. Can I get an advance on the compensation? If yes, under what conditions?

No advances on State compensation are paid in Latvia.

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2.18. Where can I get the necessary forms and further information on how to apply? Is there a special help line or website that I can use?

Application forms and information on how to complete them are available free of charge:

  • at the Legal Aid Administration;
  • at the local government office of the administrative region where the person concerned lives or is legally resident;
  • on the website of the Legal Aid Administration (Juridiskās palīdzības administrācija) www.jpa.gov.lv latviešu valoda. The freephone number for residents is 8001801.
2.19. Can I get legal aid for making the application?

In view of the fact that the application form for compensation is designed for completion by persons with no legal knowledge, legal aid for completing the form is not available.

Practical assistance (information) for completing the form is available by calling the freephone number for residents 8001801, or in person at the Legal Aid Administration.

2.20. Where do I send the application?

Completed application forms and attached documents can be sent by post to the Legal Aid Administration or submitted in person.

The Legal Aid Administration is located at Brīvības gatve 214, Riga LV 1039.

Personal callers can submit applications on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

2.21. Are there any victim support organisations that can give further assistance?

Non-governmental organisations:

  • the Victim Support Centre;
  • the "Marta” resource centre for women.

« Compensation to crime victims - General information | Latvia - General information »

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Last update: 19-05-2009

 
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