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The claimant in criminal proceedings is a person who, as a result of a crime, has suffered personal injury, damage to property, non-pecuniary damage or other loss that can be quantified as a financial amount. A claimant’s claim for damages must be filed against the offender in criminal proceedings no later than in the part of the trial before evidence is brought. This application must specify the grounds and the amount of the claim for damages.
A claim for damages may be submitted by the claimant at any time between the start of the criminal proceedings (i.e. at the pre-trial stage, during the preliminary proceedings) and the part of the trial before evidence is brought.
The law does not prescribe a precise form for the submission of a claim for damages. However, it is advisable to put forward a written claim containing a description of the circumstances under which the damage occurred, a quantification of the damage to property, and the claimant’s proposal for the court, in its sentencing, to order the defendant to compensate the claimant for damage incurred as a result of the crime. In addition, it is possible to file a claim for damages in a statement before a law enforcement agency (during a police interview with the claimant).
A claim for damages is submitted to the competent law enforcement agency, depending on the state of the criminal proceedings, i.e. this agency may be the court, public prosecutor, or the police. Claims for damages must be made in a manner and form which make it absolutely clear that the claimant is seeking damages. A claim for damages must be filed against a specific person – it is particularly important to respect this principle in joint proceedings where more than one person stands accused of the crime.
A claim for damages in criminal proceedings is a means of satisfaction for victims. Claimants may also seek compensation for damage in civil proceedings, even if they did not make a claim for damages in criminal proceedings.
The claim should contain a precise, total amount of damage, which should then be broken down into individual losses. If this is not possible (e.g. if the claimant is not yet able to quantify the damage precisely because he is still absent from work due to incapacity and is still receiving sickness benefits), at least a minimum figure should be quoted in the claim. The amount of the damages sought can subsequently be changed during the proceedings at any point until the court withdraws to consider its judgment. When deciding on a claim for damages, the court is bound by the claim, i.e. it cannot award more damages than those sought. This means that if it becomes clear during the proceedings that the loss is greater than the claimant originally stated, it is up to the claimant to amend and supplement the claim.
A claimant may be represented in criminal proceedings by an attorney who is empowered, on behalf of the claimant, to make claims, submit requests, propose remedies and be party to acts in which the claimant is entitled to participate. If a claimant seeking damages proves that he does not have sufficient funds to cover the expense of an attorney, he may petition the court to be appointed a lawyer as his attorney who will provide the claimant with legal assistance either free of charge or for a reduced fee.
When a claim for damages is put forward, all evidence proving the amount of the claimant’s loss must be presented. If, for example, damage occurs to a specific item as a result of a crime and has had to be repaired, proof of the repair cost must be produced. If the claimant suffers personal injury and is on sick leave as a result, he should present evidence of the sickness benefits granted and his average earnings prior to the injury in order to clarify what specific damage he has incurred, expressed as the difference between the benefits and earnings.
In the Czech Republic, no special assistance is available to claimants for the enforcement of a judgment on damages against the offender. Those who cannot afford legal services are entitled to approach the Czech Bar Chamber to be appointed a lawyer. A lawyer assigned by the Chamber is required to provide legal services under the terms and conditions laid down in the appointment. In practice, the Chamber usually determines that legal services are to be provided free of charge, apart from sundry expenses. If it becomes clear that the applicant’s financial and social status does not warrant the provision of free legal services, the lawyer appointed to the applicant is entitled to proceed in accordance with the scale of charges for lawyers.
Yes. Under Act No 209/1997 the state will grant financial assistance to victims of crime under the conditions laid down in that law.
Yes. This financial assistance is available only to victims of crimes where personal injury has occurred.
Financial assistance is provided to victims who sustain personal injury as a result of a crime. However, financial assistance is only available if a total score of at least 100 points is reached in the scoring mechanism used to assess the level of pain. Financial assistance is also provided to the survivors of a victim who dies as a consequence of injuries sustained in a crime, provided that the deceased was the provider for these persons or was liable for their maintenance.
See previous reply.
Financial assistance for crime victims is granted by the state to Czech citizens or stateless persons who have been granted a permanent or long-term residence permit to stay in the Czech Republic. Foreign nationals may apply for assistance in accordance with an international treaty which is binding upon the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is a state party to the European Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes, signed at Strasbourg on 24 November 1983. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the Community Directive on compensation to crime victims, which enshrines the obligation of Member States to provide compensation to persons permanently residing in another EU Member State who become victims of crime in their territory. The Czech Republic will transpose the provisions of this directive into national law and financial assistance will then also be available to persons residing permanently in an EU Member State.
As is mentioned above, financial assistance from the state is available to citizens of the Czech Republic. The law does not specify that a crime must be perpetrated in the Czech Republic in order for a victim to be eligible for financial assistance. We can deduce from this that financial assistance is granted to Czech citizens irrespective of where the crime took place.
Yes, timely reporting of the crime to the police is one of the conditions for the granting of financial assistance. Under the law on financial assistance, the state will not provide financial assistance if the victim does not promptly report the crime for which the compensation is being sought.
Financial assistance can be granted to a crime victim if the offender is convicted of a crime resulting in personal injury or if the offender is acquitted because he is unfit to stand trial. However, in certain circumstances there is no need to await such a verdict (e.g. if the offender is not known or if the charge cannot be communicated to the offender), provided that the outcome of the police investigation leaves no doubt as to the fact that a crime has been perpetrated resulting in personal injury to the victim.
Although no such obligation is expressly mentioned in the law, it can be inferred from the provisions of the law that the victim is expected to be active in seeking damages from the offender. Therefore, financial assistance may be reduced or may be denied on the basis of the victim’s social situation and whether the victim has exhausted all legal means of filing for compensation against the offender or another person liable for damages.
The identification or conviction of an offender is not a condition of eligibility for financial assistance – see the reply to question 2.8. In these cases, it needs to be established that a crime has occurred which has resulted in personal injury to the victim. This can be inferred from the findings of the law enforcement authorities and from evidence presented by the victim.
An application for financial assistance must be submitted within a year as of the date that the victim learned of the loss caused by the crime, otherwise this right is forfeited.
The state provides financial assistance in cases where the victim sustains personal injury as a result of a crime. Specifically, the proven loss of earnings and proven expense of medical treatment are covered; survivors of a victim may seek compensation for proven funeral costs and maintenance costs.
Financial assistance is granted either as a lump sum of CZK 25 000, or as an amount equivalent to the proven loss of earnings, costs of medical treatment, funeral costs and maintenance costs. Sums received by the victim as damages from other sources are deducted from this amount.
Financial assistance provided by the state must not exceed CZK 150 000. There is no lower limit.
Financial assistance is granted at the amount of proven loss of earnings, costs of medical treatment, funeral costs and maintenance costs less all amounts received by the victim as damages from other sources (e.g. from an insurance company).
Yes, the behaviour of the victim in relation to the crime concerned is taken into consideration in decisions on whether to grant financial assistance and, if so, how much. Other factors include the extent to which the victim might be liable for the damage, whether the victim agreed to the criminal prosecution of the offender, whether the victim promptly reported the crime, or whether the victim refused to testify as a witness in the criminal proceedings.
No advances on financial assistance may be granted under Czech law. However, the law does set a relatively short time limit (three months) for the settlement of an application for financial assistance. In a sense, the lump sum of CZK 25 000 that may be granted on fulfilment of conditions laid down in the law on financial assistance may play the role of an advance; this amount is made available first and then, if the actual amount of the loss sustained can be proven in a set time limit, the difference is subsequently paid.
All law enforcement agencies (the police, public prosecutors, judges) are obliged to inform the victim of the conditions related to the provision of financial assistance. The necessary forms and other information about an application for financial assistance are available from the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic.
A victim does not need a legal representative for the submission of an application for financial assistance. However, if the victim wishes he may hire a legal representative, although the victim pays the related expenses himself. Even in this case, those who cannot afford legal services are entitled to approach the Czech Bar Chamber to be appointed a lawyer.
Applications for financial assistance are submitted to the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, Vyšehradská 16, 128 00 Praha 2.
The White Ring of Safety is a non-profit organisation that provides help to victims of crime. In particular, this organisation offers advisory legal services and psychological counselling to victims, including the provision of information about the possibility of seeking compensation from the offender or the state. Further information is available at the website www.bkb.cz .
Last update: 09-10-2006