Any person who holds direct knowledge on vital facts connected with the proceeding, or knows something important that would help reveal the truth, may be called by the organ holding court proceeding to testify. A person who reports to the processing organ themself to give evidence may also be a witness.
Criminal procedures impose duties on any person called as a witness, where a lack of performance may result in application of a disciplinary penalty, or even in criminal responsibility. These regulations also grant a witness a number of rights.
The basic right of a witness in a criminal proceeding is the right to refuse to testify. The condition here is where one of the litigants of the proceeding is a person close to the witness.
This right may be applied, however it is not obligatory, if the witness wants to testify against a close person. This right is not inhered in divorce proceedings, fatherhood affiliation, denial of fatherhood, or reversion of adoption.
During questioning, a witness may refuse to answer a particular question. This right may be used when an answer to a question may put the witness or a close person at risk of criminal responsibility or may cause financial loss.
Another right of a witness in a proceeding is the possibility of applying for return travel costs connected with both coming to the court and back, as well as an equivalent of lost income due to participation in the proceeding as a witness. To use this right, one must ask for a return on the day of a trial or on the second day after the trial at the latest.
In regard to the fact that a witness, unlike a litigant, has a duty to appear in court to give evidence, they have the right to a day off work. A day off is granted to a witness on the basis of a court appointment or the court secretariat annotation on such an appointment document.
A witness has a duty to appear on every summoning, even if they have the right to refuse to testify. As the absence of a witness may cause various serious consequences, the court decides on any fine. In some cases the court may force the witness to appear to testify.
A witness is obliged to swear to say the truth. The legislator sets a prison sentence of up to 3 years for giving false statements. If the false statements have no effect on the proceeding outcome, or when a witness corrects the statement before the verdict is reached, then the person acting as a witness may avoid responsibility for giving false statements.