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Criminal trial: what is a civil party?

Verified 06 mai 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The civil party is the person who considers himself the victim of a offense who intervenes in proceedings in order to obtain compensation for his injury.

The person who is a party to the proceedings must have suffered damage caused by the offense. This injury may be bodily, moral or property.

The civil party may be a natural person or a legal person (society, association, ...).

A minor cannot be a civil party alone, it is his legal representatives (parents or guardian) who must do so on his behalf. If the Prosecutor considers that the protection of his interests is not ensured by his legal representatives, he may appoint a ad hoc administrator to make representations on his behalf. This is the case, for example, when parents are guilty of mistreating their child.

The trustee may form a civil party with or without the assistance of its trustee.

The guardian acts through his guardian.

  Please note : an association for the defense of rights (fight against racism, sexual violence, crimes against humanity...(a) may bring a civil action before the court and obtain damages.

The damage can be material (destruction of property, loss of wages....), bodily (injury...) or moral (emotional, psychological damage...).

It is up to the civil party to quantify the amount of his injury and to provide all the necessary evidence for the court to take its decision and to fix compensation.

The civil party may apply to the court realize expertise to help him establish his injury and estimate the amount of compensation.

It is possible to bring a civil action before the criminal court until a judgment has been handed down.

Before the judgment hearing

As soon as the complaint is filed

Civil proceedings may be instituted as soon as a complaint is lodged.

It is registered at the same time as the complaint by the police or gendarmerie.

If complaint is made directly to the public prosecutor, the willingness to take part in a civil action must be clearly indicated in the complaint letter.

Before the hearing

Civil parties may be brought before the hearing by registered letter with notice of receipt, fax or electronic communication at least 24 hours before the hearing. All supporting documents concerning the assessment of injury must be attached to this letter.

Getting involved in a criminal case

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

The procurator's office shall notify the victim of the date of the hearing and invite him or her to take legal action if he or she desires pecuniary compensation for his or her injury.

The day of the hearing

Civil proceedings may be instituted on the day of the hearing when the matter is called by the presiding judge.

The victim must do so orally or by filing a written application.

Civil proceedings must be instituted before the public prosecutor asks the court to sentence the perpetrator.

  FYI : the victim may renounce his or her civil claim.

The fact that the victim is a party to a civil case allows him to be informed of the proceedings and to have access, through a lawyer, to the file.

The civil party may be assisted or represented by a lawyer at the hearing.

If she has low income, she can ask legal aid..

The civil party may request that the case be remitted to a later date if it is unable to attend. She must provide the justification (hospitalization....). The judge may or may not allow the case to be dismissed.

The civil party may be heard by the court and intervene in the proceedings concerning the case.

On the day of the criminal trial, if the victim's claim for compensation is not ready for trial, the victim may request a postponement from the judge. The court then decides on the sentence and refers the case on the claim to a hearing called on civil interests.. To request referral to this hearing, the victim must justify these impediments (hospitalization, missing documents..).

The civil party can only seek compensation for his injury, it cannot seek the criminal conviction of the perpetrator. In order to obtain compensation, it must prove the harm caused by the offense.

The court may refuse any compensation.

A civil party who does not attend the hearing and is not represented by a lawyer is considered to have waived his claim for compensation. In this case, or if it had previously waived it, it may bring proceedings for compensation for its loss before the court.

The civil party may appeal of the decision of the court, but only as regards compensation for his injury. She cannot appeal against the criminal conviction (prison, fine...).

  FYI : a victim who has not been able to bring a civil action before the judgment is delivered may bring an action before the court. It can also capture Compensation Commission for Victims (Civi) or the Victims Recovery Service (Sarvi).