Right to easily accessible, confidential and free of charge crime victim support services
As a crime victim, you have the right to request support from victim support services. Their role is to help you manage the consequences of the crime and understand criminal and misdemeanour proceedings.
For more information on the available victim and witness support services, see here
Right to effective psychological and other professional assistance and support
Emotional support is provided to victims by victim and witness support departments of county courts. They will also give you basic information on what to expect in criminal or misdemeanour proceedings and prepare you for participation in the proceedings. In addition, they will accompany and support you during your entire stay in court.
In the counties where there are no court departments for victim and witness support as well as in some counties where court departments already exist, emotional and psychological support and legal assistance to victims and witnesses are provided by civil society organisations included in the Network of Support and Cooperation for Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences.
Furthermore, you can ask for assistance and support at social welfare centres and institutions providing psychological assistance such as the Division for School Medicine, Mental Health and Addiction Prevention of the Croatian Institute of Public Health
. Croatian war veterans, members of their families or victims of the Croatian War of Independence in need of psychological assistance can address the Centre for Psychosocial Assistance (CPA) in their county. General victim support services will refer victims and witnesses to specialised services according to their special needs for support.
Right to protection from intimidation and retaliation
If the offender is intimidating you in any way or threatening to take revenge, it is important that you report it to the police, state attorney’s office or court. If you are intimidated, the authorities involved in the criminal proceedings are obliged to undertake protection measures, e.g. avoid your encounter with the offender at the police, state attorney's office or court. If the offender is threatening to commit another crime or to finish the one started, or is harassing you in any other way, or stalking you, it is important to report it to the police without delay. In such case, the measure of pre-trial detention can be imposed on the offender to deprive them of liberty and put them in prison. Also, a measure prohibiting him from approaching, harassing or stalking you as the victim can be imposed. If the offender is already prohibited from approaching, harassing or stalking you, and violates the measure, it is important to report it to the police without delay. The police will protect you and undertake measures necessary to have the offender violating the restraining order detained. Specifically, the police will inform the state attorney’s office (SAO) of the violation of the restraining order, and the SAO will propose to the court that the offender be detained. The decision on pre-trial detention is always issued by the court.
Right to protection of dignity during questioning
As a victim of a crime, you have the right to be heard, so that the law enforcement authorities – the police, the public prosecutor’s office and the court – could hear what you want to say, and they must treat you with due consideration. The law enforcement authorities are obligated to protect you during your testimony by not allowing for irrelevant or legally inadmissible questions. The court is obligated to take account of the protection of your privacy and may exclude the public during your testimony if this is necessary to protect your privacy or family life.
Right to be interviewed without undue delay after reporting a crime, and without unnecessary repeated questioning
As a victim, you have the right to be heard and interviewed by the law enforcement authorities without undue delay. Typically, the victim is first questioned by the police. Police questioning of the victim is not conducted under strict rules of law and cannot be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. Its purpose is to obtain necessary basic information about the crime to be able to prosecute the offender, and to provide the victim with adequate protection. For that reason, after the police, the victim is usually also questioned by a state attorney or, upon his/her order, by an investigator, and finally testifies in court. However, if the victim is a child or a person vulnerable due to their old age, health condition or disability, or a victim for which the need for special protection during questioning has been identified, the questioning will be conducted by the investigative judge instead of the state attorney. For the authority conducting the questioning to be able to estimate the need for special protection, they will ask specific questions and it is important that you say whether you feel threatened and what scares you. If special protection is ordered, the questioning by the investigative judge can be conducted without direct contact between you and the offender, which means that the offender will not be in the same room with you during the questioning. You will be placed in a separate room, receive questions through headphones, and the questioning will be recorded by an audiovisual device. In such case, you will normally not be required to testify in court, but the recording of the questioning will be reproduced at the hearing and will serve as evidence. The purpose of this is to spare the victim the stress and burden of repeated questioning about the crime and thus to protect them from a potential additional trauma.
Right to be accompanied by a person of trust
The right to be accompanied by a person of trust refers to the right not to be alone in the proceedings, so as a victim you may be accompanied during the criminal proceedings by a person you trust, who can provide you with emotional support. A person of trust can be a family member, friend or other person you feel safe with. It can also be an officer of a victim and witness support department or, for example, a social worker, if you feel safer and more comfortable in their company. It should not be a person who could be heard as a witness in the criminal proceedings in which you participate, as that person cannot be present during your testimony and therefore cannot support you. You have the right to have the trusted person with you throughout the proceedings – at the police station, the state attorney’s office and in court.
Right to undergo minimal medical procedures and only if absolutely essential for the purpose of the criminal proceedings
As a victim, you are entitled to have medical interventions, such as physical examinations and expert opinions which include physical examination, reduced to a minimum, i.e. for such medical interventions and expert opinions to be undertaken only when it is in the interest of the criminal proceedings, if the evidence needed for the criminal proceedings could not be obtained by other means and only if they can be undertaken without harming your health. This must be taken into account by all the criminal justice authorities – the police, the state attorney’s office and the court. As a general rule, your consent is required for a physical examination involving body cavities. If you have not consented to such examination, it can only be undertaken on the basis of a reasoned court order. In such case, you have the right to be informed about the content of the order, including the explanation of the order. Any expert opinion involving internal examination of body cavities can only be undertaken on the basis of a reasoned court order.
Right to file a motion to prosecute and bring a private action, to participate in criminal proceedings as an injured party, to be informed of the decision of the state attorney to drop or dismiss charges, and to take over prosecution
Motion to prosecute
As a victim, you have the right to file a motion to prosecute the offender in situations where a criminal offence has been committed for which a state attorney cannot prosecute ex officio without the motion of the victim. A victim can file a motion to prosecute, for example, for mobbing, and for some cases of threats or intrusive behaviour towards an adult. The content of the motion to prosecute is the same as that of the criminal complaint, i.e. the law does not specify the form in which a motion to prosecute must be submitted, so it can be submitted in writing as well as orally by telephone or by stating it for the record. Once the victim has submitted a motion to prosecute, the state attorney acts ex officio, but is bound by the motion, so if the victim withdraws the motion, the state attorney is obliged to discontinue prosecution. Therein lies the difference between a motion to prosecute and a criminal complaint for a criminal offence prosecuted ex officio. If a criminal complaint has been filed for a crime for which ex officio prosecution by the state attorney is envisaged, the victim who filed the criminal complaint may not subsequently withdraw from it i.e. the state attorney is not bound by the victim's actions.
A victim is also entitled to bring a private action for crimes prosecuted upon private action, for which the public prosecutor is not entitled to prosecute, such as the criminal offence of bodily injury (if the bodily injury is not serious, since serious bodily injuries are subject to prosecution ex officio), coercion (unless coercion is committed from hatred, towards a child, a person with a severe disability or a close person), some forms of threat, some crimes against property and crimes against honour and reputation. In such cases, the victim, as a private prosecutor, prosecutes the offender in court, proposes evidence and the state attorney does not participate in the criminal proceedings.
As a victim, you have the right to participate in criminal proceedings as an injured party. The injured party is not every victim, but only a victim who wishes to participate actively in criminal proceedings in order to promote their own procedural interests. As an injured party, the victim is covered by some additional procedural rights. If you are the injured party in criminal proceedings, you have a right to:
- use your language
- file a claim for indemnification and a motion for temporary security measures
- have a legal representative
- call attention to the facts and to suggest evidence
- attend the evidentiary hearing
- attend the hearing and participate in the evidentiary proceedings, and to make final remarks
- review the record of the case
- request to be notified by the state attorney on actions taken regarding the injured party’s report of a crime and to file a complaint with a higher-ranking state attorney
- file an appeal
- file a motion to prosecute and to bring a private action
- be notified of the charges being dropped or dismissed by the state attorney
- take over criminal prosecution
- file a motion for return to the prior state of affairs
- be notified of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
However, in order to be able to participate in criminal proceedings as an injured party, a victim must request such participation from the police, the state attorney's office or the court.
Notification of dropping/dismissal of a criminal charge and taking over prosecution
The public prosecutor is obliged to inform the victim about their dropping or dismissal of a criminal charge, in which case the victim may take over the prosecution. By taking over the prosecution, the victim actually assumes the role of the prosecutor, meaning that the further course of the criminal proceedings and its outcome depend to a significant extent on the victim’s engagement. By taking over the prosecution, the victim also takes the role of an injured party, i.e. taking over the prosecution is equivalent to application for participation in criminal proceedings as an injured party. This implies obligations for the victim i.e. injured party in terms of time, as they have to present evidence and represent the prosecution side, and in terms of finances, as they must bear the costs of the proceedings themselves.
Right to be notified by the state attorney on any actions undertaken
As a victim, you have the right to be informed of the progress of the proceedings, and you can also request this information. Thus, after two months from filing the criminal report, you can request a notification from the state attorney about the actions taken. If the state attorney has not informed you of the action taken, which they are obliged to do within thirty days of receiving the request, or if you are not satisfied with the notification or the action taken, you may file a complaint with a higher-ranking state attorney.
Right to be notified, upon request, about termination of detention or remand, the offender's escape or release from prison as well as any victim protection measures undertaken
If the defendant is in detention or remand, or the offender is serving a prison sentence, as a victim you have the right to be informed of the termination of custody, termination of pre-trial detention, escape or release of the offender from prison, but only if you wish so. You will receive a notice of the release of the defendant from detention or remand from the police, and a notice of escape or release of the offender from prison from the Victim and Witness Support Service of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration. You can therefore choose whether you want to receive a notice of the release of the defendant or the offender. The criminal justice authorities are obliged to ask you if you want to receive this notice, and you can in any case express that wish. If you wish, you will also be informed of the measures taken to protect you. The measures taken in this case are most often the measures of physical protection of the victim provided by the police.
Right to be notified about any final decision terminating the criminal proceedings
As a victim, you have the right to receive notification of any final and binding decision terminating the criminal proceedings. If you do not receive such notification, you have the right to request it from the State Attorney's Office if the decision was made during the investigation. If it is rendered in court proceedings, you have the right to request it from the court.
Right to suggest to be interviewed using an audio-video device
As a victim of a crime, you have the right to suggest a special method of questioning, to be interviewed using an audio-video device, during which you would not come into contact with the defendant. The judge will decide on your suggestion.
Specifically, if the judge accepts the suggestion, you will be in a separate room during the questioning, and your attorney and a trusted person of your choice may be present. The defendant will be in another room. You will not see or hear the defendant, and will not be asked questions directly by the defendant, but by the judge, because the recording of the interview will be reproduced at the hearing and will be used as evidence. Exceptionally, if repeated questioning is necessary, it will be carried out in the manner described, without direct contact with the defendant.
Right to other rights stipulated by law
As a victim, you have other rights under the Criminal Procedure Act, such as the right to inspect the case file, the right to receive written confirmation that you have filed a criminal complaint, the right to the assistance of an interpreter or other person if you do not speak or understand the language of the authority to which you are filing a criminal complaint, and, in such case, the right to have the confirmation of a filed criminal complaint translated free of charge into a language you understand.
As a victim, you also have certain rights prescribed not only by the Criminal Procedure Act, but also by other laws, such as the Civil Obligations Act (for example, the right to compensation), the Social Welfare Act, the Domestic Violence Protection Act and other laws. What other rights you can exercise depends on the circumstances of the crime and your personal and family circumstances.
Right to professional assistance of a legal counsel, at the expense of the state budget, for the submission of a claim for indemnification (for crimes punishable by over five years’ imprisonment)
The victim of a criminal offence for which the prescribed sentence is more than five years, who suffers serious consequences from that offence, has the right to professional assistance of a legal counsel, at the expense of the state budget, for the submission of a claim for indemnification. The victim can exercise this right by requesting the court to appoint a counsel for them, and then the court will designate a legal representative.
Right to financial compensation from the state budget (for victims of violent crimes with intent)
Right to financial compensation from the Republic of Croatia
The victim of an intentional violent crime
has the right to financial compensation from the state budget in accordance with the Crime Victims Compensation Act.
For more information, see: Crime Victims Compensation