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Court

Courts are independent institutions of justice authorised to decide on legal issues. Decisions made by courts are binding for all public or private organisations. The court is more important than any other institution.
Public courts are relevant as regards criminal, civil, labour, commercial and family law. They are usually divided into district, provincial and appeal courts.
Access to justice in courts is available for all citizens, so they can defend their rights and interests protected by law.
Role of victim during court proceeding:

  • A witnessis a person who actually saw an act which became the subject of the court proceeding. A person called upon to be a witness has an obligation to appear in place and time required to testify. The person may also be interrogated at the place of his/her domicile, if he/she cannot appear in the court due to disability or illness. It is also possible to interrogate a witness using technical equipment for remote communication.
    A witness has the obligation to testify and cannot hide the truth. When called to testify, relatives of the accused/suspect (e.g. spouse, parent, son and daughter) may use their right to refuse. A witness may refuse answering a question without giving any reason, especially if testifying may pose a threat of penal or fiscal code sanctions to the person or his/her relative.
  • A subsidiary prosecutorhelps the victim and acts apart from or in place of a prosecutor during criminal proceedings. Contrary to a victim, he/she has the rights of a party to the proceeding. It means that he/she can present evidence, ask questions to interrogated people, as well as appeal court’s sentences. During the proceeding, a substitute prosecutor sits in front of the judge’s table, right of the prosecutor.
    In order to become a substitute prosecutor, a victim needs to file an application with a relevant court to act in such a capacity. The statement needs to be filed between bringing an indictment to the court and its reading during the main proceeding. The statement filed after that term will not be valid.

How to prepare for court proceedings?
Participation in court proceedings may involve a serious stress and mental discomfort, e.g. need to meet the perpetrator again. In such instances you can use the help of your carer. A carer (usually psychologist) is a person who accompanies and supports you during the court proceeding and after if a victim expressed such a need. Being a trusted person appointed by the victim, the carer may be present during the court proceeding. A carer may also meet the victim before the proceeding to prepare the person for the proceeding.

If you are interested in having a carer, contact your national ‘SubveniaVictima’ association by phone: 0048 350 73 80, or email: contactus@subvenia.pl
If your child is called to testify as a witness in a criminal proceeding, you may also contact the National SubveniaVictima Victim Support Association where a specialist will help you and your child preparing for the court proceeding, and explain how the court operates, who is who in the court and its role in the proceeding.
Practical suggestions:
On the day of the proceeding it is advisable to arrive a couple of minutes earlier. Take into account that the security clearance may take some time, in particular in larger courts, and that you also need some time to find the exact room. If you are uncertain, ask a court employee who will guide you if needed. After reaching your place, wait until the court reads out names of people attending the proceeding. Respond when you hear your name to have your presence recorded. Then you need to wait until you are called to the court room.