Damages claim and compensation in criminal proceedings
By way of compensation in criminal proceedings, we usually do not have in mind the compensation which a convicted person may demand from the State in the event that s/he has been convicted and consequently wrongfully served a prison sentence, but especially in cases where the injured party seeks reparation from the accused. The injured party in the criminal proceedings requests compensation for damages by filing an appropriate damages claim. The purpose of compensation for material or property damage is to compensate the injured party for the damages suffered, and in the case of non-material damage, to obtain adequate satisfaction in monetary form.
The criminal court shall decide on the compensation in criminal proceedings after it determines whether the accused has committed the criminal offense alleged against him. Sometimes, when it is difficult to determine the amount of appropriate compensation in criminal proceedings, the court in Slovenia may decide not to make a decision regarding the damages claim even though the accused has been convicted of a crime. In such cases, the court shall refer the injured party to the civil court for compensation.
Damages claim is filed by the injured party in criminal proceedings in order to obtain adequate compensation from the convicted person for the harm s/he suffered. At the very beginning of the criminal proceedings, the court warns the injured party that it may file a damages claim. A damages claim in criminal proceedings does not usually need to be as detailed and elaborate as a claim for damages in civil proceedings, but it is nevertheless advised that the injured party does not formulate it by himself, but seeks proper assistance of a lawyer.
Position of the injured party
The position of the injured party in criminal proceedings is somewhat similar to that of a witness in criminal proceedings. Both are initially interrogated in connection with the actions of the accused and are expected to confess the truth. The position of the injured party in criminal proceedings is greatly expanded after the pre-trial. In contrast to the witness, the injured party has the right to be represented by a representative, to participate in the presentation of all the evidence proposals and to present his / her own evidence, and above all to file an appropriate damages claim. The position of the injured party in criminal proceedings is fully governed by the Criminal Procedure Act, which also details his rights and obligations. The injured party in criminal proceedings is also often the principal incriminating witness, who, unlike the ordinary witness, often has an interest in finding the accused guilty of the crime it is accused of.
Representative of the injured party in Slovenia
The representative of the injured party in Slovenia is also a lawyer. Unlike the attorney counsel, his job is to help the injured party by filing a proper damages claim and indirectly to help the prosecutor, since they usually have the same interest that the accused be found guilty of committing a crime. The representative of the injured party plays a role in the presentation of various pieces of evidence and the examination of witnesses and of the accused. Both the attorney counsel and the representative of the injured party in Slovenia are therefore lawyers in criminal proceedings, but they stand on opposite sides and have completely different interests and goals. In certain cases, the representative of the injured party in Slovenia may even assume the role of the prosecutor. These are cases where the prosecutor resigns from the prosecution, which can occur for various reasons, and usually due to the prosecutor’s opinion that there is insufficient evidence to continue the prosecution against the defendant. In such cases the representative of the injured party shall act as a prosecutor in Slovenia. Unfortunately, in practice, there are few cases where the representative of the injured party would successfully replace a prosecutor and reach a conviction of the accused.
The evidence procedure in Slovenia
Evidence procedure in Slovenia is a complex activity. Sometimes the evidence in criminal proceedings is interpreted as the procedure and defense of the accused. In most cases, this term is used in the opposite case, namely in cases of proving the guilt of the accused. In the first case, we are talking about evidence in criminal proceedings conducted by the accused and his attorney counsel, and in the second case, we are talking about evidence in criminal proceedings conducted by the prosecutor, to the detriment of the accused. Evidence procedure in criminal proceedings in Slovenia may start very early. The police, at the pre-trial stage, begin collecting evidence to confirm or refute their suspicion that a particular person has committed a crime. Such evidence by the police is managed by the prosecutor, who directs the police. Once it has collected sufficient evidence, it may, in certain cases, request an investigation into the criminal proceedings, which may be followed by the filing of an indictment, and in other cases it may immediately file an indictment. In both cases, the evidence procedure in criminal proceedings is continued so that the court, on the basis of the evidence already collected and possible new evidence, may find enough to find the accused guilty of the crime. Evidence procedure in criminal proceedings in Slovenia usually ends with a final court decision, which may be either condemnatory or exculpatory.
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