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The injured party, meaning the person who has suffered damage as a result of the crime, may bring a claim for civil damages even if he or she does not or cannot act as civil claimant (a role in the proceedings which can be assumed by the victim or by his or her heirs or legal representatives, or by anyone in the case of certain types of crime such as crimes against peace and humanity, facilitation or the denial of justice, and which involves joining a civil action to the criminal proceedings).
It is the responsibility of the Public Prosecution Service to bring a claim for civil damages on behalf of the State and the persons and interests that it is required to represent by law.
The injured party's role in the proceedings is confined to providing evidence to support the claim for damages.
Claims for damages to compensate for loss caused by a criminal offence must be brought as part of the relevant criminal proceedings, and can be made separately before a civil court only when: (a) there has been no indictment in the criminal proceedings within eight months of the crime's being reported, or there have been no developments in that time; (b) the criminal proceedings have been dismissed or suspended, or lapsed before coming to trial; (c) the proceedings are based on a private complaint or charge; (d) there was no damage at the time charges were brought, or the damage or its full extent were not known; (e) the criminal sentence did not include a decision on the claim for damages in view of the nature of the issues involved and the inherent characteristics of the criminal proceedings in cases where the law allows the criminal courts not to take a decision on such claims; (f) the claim is brought against the defendant and other persons with purely civil liability, or only against the latter where the defendant is the one concerned by the main proceedings; (g) the value of the claim means that it can be brought before a multi-member court, while the criminal proceedings must take place before a judge sitting alone; (h) the criminal proceedings take the form of summary or very summary proceedings; (i) the injured party has not been informed of the possibility of bringing a civil claim in the criminal proceedings or been given notice to do so.
On this topic, see also the factsheet on Bringing a case to court.
If you are entitled to bring a claim for civil damages you must signal your intention of doing so before the investigation stage of the proceedings is closed. You will then be notified of the decision to bring charges or the indictment by the court as appropriate, so that you may, if you wish, present a properly structured claim within the time-limit of 20 days. If you have not stated your intention of filing a damages claim, or have not been given notification as outlined above, you can file the claim up to 10 days after the defendant has been notified of the decision to bring charges or of the indictment by the court.
When brought by the Public Prosecution Service or the civil claimant, the claim is filed with the indictment or within the time limit set for it.
A claim for damages does not have to meet any particular formal requirements and may consist of a statement in the file, indicating the losses suffered and the evidence thereof. The claim is usually accompanied by duplicates for the defendants and the secretary.
It must be submitted to the court responsible for ruling on the criminal offence.
When applying for civil damages, you must detail the various losses suffered together with their causes and then indicate the total value of the claim.
Legal aid can be granted at any stage of the proceedings provided the statutory requirements are met and the proper formalities are observed, as described in the factsheet on this topic.
All suitable means of proving the alleged facts and supporting a decision in the case are accepted, provided they are legally valid, relevant, appropriate as proof and can be obtained. Specifically, documentary evidence, confession by the parties and expert and witness statements are accepted.
There is no special assistance besides the appointment of a lawyer under the legal aid arrangements. The lawyer appointed has the specific technical expertise and should carry out the necessary procedural steps in order to ensure enforcement.
Under Portuguese law, victims of certain crimes can obtain compensation from the State.
Only victims of crimes involving intentional violence are covered by the compensation scheme.
Advances on compensation can be paid by the State to victims of conjugal violence only for the criminal offence of maltreatment between spouses or persons who live as such.
Only victims who have suffered serious bodily harm and people entitled to maintenance in the event of the victim's death can benefit from state compensation. For the injury to be covered by the scheme, it must result in permanent incapacity, temporary total incapacity for work of at least thirty days or death.
The harm suffered must have caused a serious deterioration in the standard of living of the victim or the persons entitled to maintenance.
For victims of domestic violence, loss resulting from physical or mental abuse is covered by the scheme.
In the event of the victim's death, persons entitled to maintenance under civil law can apply for compensation from the State.
To help identify who these persons are, it should be noted that the following are required to pay maintenance, in this order: (a) the spouse or ex-spouse; (b) descendants; (c) relatives in the ascending line; (d) siblings; (e) aunts and uncles, while the person receiving maintenance is a minor; and (f) the stepfather and stepmother in relation to stepchildren under age who are, or were at the time of death of the spouse, under the latter’s care. In addition, anyone who had been living with an unmarried or legally separated person at the time of the latter’s death for more than two years under conditions similar to those of spouses is entitled to apply for maintenance from the estate of the deceased.
No. Any victim of serious bodily harm resulting directly from an intentional violent act committed on Portuguese territory or on board Portuguese ships or aircraft may benefit from the compensation scheme.
The same does not apply to crimes committed abroad, for which the compensation scheme described here applies only if the injured party is a Portuguese national and is not entitled to compensation from the State on whose territory the loss was suffered.
Yes, on the conditions described in the reply to the previous question.
Current legislation does not expressly contain such a requirement.
For domestic violence, it is necessary for there to have been a complaint or an official report.
This is not a requirement.
You should first try to get compensation from the offender, because victims can obtain compensation from the State only if they have not been able to obtain redress through the enforcement of the sentence handed down following a claim for civil damages. This condition is waived if it can reasonably be expected that the offender and any other persons with civil liability will not repair the loss and if it is not possible to obtain effective and sufficient redress from another source.
Yes, it is possible to apply for the compensation referred to above even if the offender has not been identified, charged or convicted.
A committee will examine the application, taking any measures which it considers useful for that purpose, including: (a) hearing the applicants and those responsible for paying the compensation; (b) requesting copies of complaints and notifications relating to the facts of the offence; and (c) requesting information on the professional, financial or social situation of those responsible for repairing the loss from any natural or legal person or any government office.
In the situation at issue, the evidence must focus on the actual existence of a criminal offence.
Yes, there is a time limit. Applications must be made within a year from the date on which the criminal offence was committed, otherwise the right to compensation lapses. If criminal proceedings have commenced, the time limit can be extended to one year after the decision terminating the proceedings is handed down. In any event, the Minister for Justice can accept applications after the deadline if justified psychological or material circumstances prevented the application being made in time.
Applications for compensation for loss caused by domestic violence must be made within six months, but late applications can be accepted by the Minister for Justice on the same terms as above.
Only pecuniary loss caused by the injury is eligible for compensation.
The compensation will be calculated with reference to criteria based on equity. Account will be taken, among other things, of the extent of the loss, the degree of deterioration in the standard of living of the victim or the persons entitled to maintenance, the conduct of the victim or applicant and the amounts obtained from other sources.
Yes, there are ceilings on the compensation which can be awarded by the State.
All amounts received from other sources, and specifically from the offender or social security, will be taken into account. However, private life assurance or personal accident insurance will be deducted only insofar as required by the principle of equity.
If the victim receives effective redress or compensation for the loss from any source after the state compensation has been paid, the Minister for Justice, subject to the opinion of the committee mentioned above, must require the repayment, in full or in part, of the sums received.
Yes. State compensation may be reduced or withheld in the light of the victim's or applicant's conduct prior to, during or after the facts or in the light of his relations with the offender or his environment, or if his conduct is contrary to the sense of justice or public order.
In an emergency you can request an advance on the compensation which is still to be fixed; the advance may not exceed one quarter of the maximum amount.
For victims of domestic violence, the amount of the advance is set taking account of the existence of serious financial distress resulting from the crime and may not exceed the monthly equivalent of the national minimum wage for a period of three months, which may be extended by a further three months or, in situations of extreme distress, a further six months.
Compensation is granted by the State at the request of the persons entitled to it and it is not necessary to use a special form. However, forms are available free of charge from the Comissão para a Instrução dos Pedidos de Indemnização às Vítimas de Crimes Violentos (Committee for examining requests for compensation to victims of violent crime) at Escadinhas de S. Crispim, n.º 7, 1149-049 ; the eâ€‘mail address is: josé.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further assistance can be obtained from the Portuguese Victim Support Association: website http://www.apav.pt/ ; eâ€‘mail email@example.com; tel. +351 707 2000 77 (weekdays from 10.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 17.00).
Addition information can be found on the web at:
For victims of domestic violence there is a 24â€‘hour helpline. It is an anonymous and confidential service which provides victims with counselling, information about their rights and information about where they can get support.
The number is +351 800 202 148.
Victims of domestic violence can also obtain information from the following website:
Legal aid is available for all court proceedings, whatever form they take. It also applies, with the necessary adaptations, to proceedings involving administrative offences.
Since the application for state compensation is not brought before a court or made in the context of proceedings concerning an administrative offence, legal aid is not available for making the application.
However, it should be pointed out that there are no costs involved in making the application as the documents (certificates) required are free of charge.
For more information, see the Legal Aid factsheet.
Applications for state
compensation must be sent to the Committee for examining requests for
compensation to victims of violent crime, but addressed to the
Minister for Justice. The Committee is based in
Yes. There is the Portuguese Victim Support Association (APAV) mentioned above.
Additional information can be obtained from the following websites.
http://www.policiajudiciaria.pt - Criminal Investigation PoliceTop
Last update: 05-07-2007