What is criminal proceedings?

Criminal Proceedings (basic information)

The main purpose of criminal proceedings is to clarify the committed crime, to determine the circumstances under which it was committed and to ensure fair punishment of the perpetrator.

Criminal proceedings primarily determine the following:

  • whether an act that occurred may be considered a crime,
  • who committed this act – the perpetrator,
  • why and how the act was committed, the motive that led the perpetrator to commit it,
  • classifying the act that was committed as a crime based on legislation,
  • to whom and what damage was caused by the crime.

In criminal proceedings it is decided on:

  • whether the conditions are met to convict the perpetrator,
  • punishment for the perpetrator (e.g. imprisonment, fine, forfeiture of property),
  • if an agreement on guilt and punishment can be concluded or a settlement can be reached,
  • the amount of damages and compensation to the victim.

Criminal proceedings may be divided into two main phases:

  • pretrial proceedings
    • pre‑prosecution proceedings
    • preparatory proceedings
  • court proceedings
    • judicial review of the indictment
    • main hearing
    • appellate proceedings
    • enforcement proceedings

Glossary (terms used in criminal proceedings)

    • The member of the Police Force in charge of the investigation.
    • The role of the prosecutor is to defend society’s interest in identifying crimes and punishing perpetrators fairly. In pre‑trial proceedings, they supervise the police officer’s actions and make the decision to file an indictment and initiate court proceedings.
    • Depending on the severity of the crime, a judge or group of judges known as a senate decides on guilt and punishment. The court decides on the basis of the indictment filed by the prosecutor, and decides on guilt and punishment for the perpetrator and compensation for the victim.
    • An indictment is a submission in which the perpetrator is identified, the act that occurred is described and classified as a specific crime under the legislation. It is filed by a prosecutor and upon its filling, court proceedings is initiated.
    • The suspect (the person who allegedly committed the crime) is referred to as the ‘accused’ as soon as the police brings charges against them.
    • The moment the court schedules the main hearing, the accused becomes the defendant.
  • INJURED PARTY (the term used for a victim in criminal proceedings)
    • A person who has suffered physical injury, or suffered pecuniary or non‑pecuniary damages or other damages, or whose rights and freedoms were violated or endangered.