To the aggrieved party (victim of crime)
If a crime has been committed against you, you should report the matter to the police as soon as possible.
When a crime has been committed the police will investigate what has happened, for example through questioning, investigation of the crime scene and a technical investigation. This is known as the 'preliminary investigation' and it will be led by a police officer or prosecutor. The function of the court is to consider whether the prosecutor, supported by the investigation, can prove that the accused has committed the particular crime alleged by the prosecutor.
The 'aggrieved party' refers to the person against whom the crime was committed and who reported it to the police.
Why do I need to be questioned?
You will be given notice to attend the court to be questioned about the offence committed against you. What you know is important and may be of great relevance to the judgment of the court.
Many people who are questioned feel some discomfort prior to visiting the court. This generally passes over during the questioning.
If you are afraid of anyone, for example, the person charged in a criminal case (the accused), or if for some other reason you find it particularly difficult to make a statement when a particular person is present, you should contact the court in good time before the trial. The court can decide that the person that you are frightened of may not be present during the questioning.
If you have been given notice to attend the trial, you are under a duty to attend the court. It is important that you arrive in good time and at the right place, not only so that the court can make the right judgment, but also because a hearing costs the community a lot of money. If you do not attend, the trial might have to be postponed. However, this does not mean that it will not take place, but that you and all the other parties affected will be given notice to attend on another date.
If it is difficult for you to attend, you should call or write to the court immediately to give it notice. Valid excuses include:
- disruption to public modes of communication
- sudden illness (notify the district court if you are ill; a physician’s certificate is always required)
- some other impeding circumstance that could not have been foreseen.
Work or holiday is not considered to be valid excuse.
The notice to attend applies until such time as the court decides otherwise. It is a good idea to bring the notice to attend to the court.
In order to confirm to the court that you have received the notice to attend the trial, you should sign and return the acknowledgement letter accompanying the notice. At court, this is known as 'service'.
You are allowed to have someone for support
If you, as the aggrieved party, need personal support during the trial, you are allowed to have a suitable person with you as a support person. During the trial you will sit next to the prosecutor, who will also be prepared to help you.
What will happen?
At some courts, there is a special waiting room for the aggrieved party and witnesses where you can wait, if you do not want to wait in the main waiting room. You can ask at the court’s reception, where they will be able to tell you where the waiting room is located.
You will enter the courtroom when the case is called and the trial starts. When you are questioned, the parties and the court will ask you questions. You should explain what has happened to you. The way in which you make your statement and how you express yourself is not very important. What is important is that the court gets to know what happened. The people you meet in the court understand how it can feel to appear in a courtroom for the first time.
As an aggrieved party, if you have been given notice to attend the trial, you are entitled to compensation for travelling to the court. This also applies to any expenses for accommodation and lost income from work. However, there are limits regarding compensation for travel and other matters, in particular when compensation is to be paid from public funds. The court will be able to advise you about the rules applicable for compensation.
Information about the possibility of requesting an advance payment will be included in the notice to attend.
If something is unclear regarding compensation or if there is something else that you are wondering about, it is possible to call the court and ask. The court's telephone number and address are shown on the notice to attend.
If you are a victim of a crime, you can request damages from the defendant (the person who is alleged to have committed the offence). Such damages can relate to, for instance, compensation for destroyed clothing, a broken tooth, costs for medical care, pain and suffering, or personal violation.
If you have notified the court that you want to have damages, your claim will normally be raised at the trial. If you have not already submitted written documents that you wish to refer to as evidence, for example invoices and receipts, you should take such documents with you to the court. It is sometimes possible for the prosecutor to assist you to bring your action for damages.
Read more under the menu 'Damages'.
If you need assistance
Witness support is available at most courts and they will be able to assist you when you attend the court for a trial. A witness support person is a person working on a not-for-profit basis who assists witnesses and victims of crime with humanitarian support and practical information in conjunction with a criminal trial. A witness support person wears a badge with the text 'Vittnesstöd' ('Witness Support') and has sworn a moral promise of confidentiality.
The witness support person will primarily be a fellow human being but can also explain how the criminal procedure is handled. They can also provide information about compensation and practical matters, such as the location of the cloakroom and toilet. The witness support person can also refer witnesses and victims of crime to other people and bodies that may also be able to provide support.
Aggrieved party counsel
In certain cases, the court can appoint 'aggrieved party counsel', usually an advokat (attorney), who will assist you. Aggrieved party counsel protects your interests as a victim of crime and can, for example, bring an action for damages on your behalf in the criminal case if the prosecutor does not do so.
You can get aggrieved party counsel if you are a victim of a crime (aggrieved party) and have been subjected to, for example, a sexual offence, assault, unlawful deprivation of liberty, robbery or other offence that can lead to the imprisonment of the person who committed the offence.
It is the court that appoints aggrieved party counsel. The court can only do this when a preliminary investigation has been initiated. Aggrieved party counsel is paid by the state and will not cost you anything. Contact the court if you want to find out more.
Special representative for children
In a case where a custodian, or anyone who is a custodian, has a close relationship with a person suspected of committing an offence against a child, the child may get a 'special representative'. The special representative shall, instead of the child's custodian, protect the child's rights during the preliminary investigation and during the trial. He or she will be an advokat who satisfies certain requirements regarding suitability. This special representative will be paid by the state and will not cost the child anything.
The prosecutor will apply to the court for a special representative for children. Contact the police, prosecutor or court if you want to find out more.
Crime Victim Emergency Service
All police districts, in over 100 districts around Sweden, have a Crime Victim Emergency Service. People who have training in and experience of the issues faced by victims of crime are available at these offices.
Visit Brottsofferjourens webbplats (the Crime Victim Emergency Service website, link opened in new window) for further information. You can also call the Crime Victim Emergency Service on 0200-21 20 19.
Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority
The Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority can provide you with information about the legal process and your rights.
The authority can also, after the legal process is concluded, pay government compensation, so-called 'crime injuries compensation', for your injury. It is not possible for all victims of crime to get this compensation, for example, property and economic losses can only be compensated under certain special conditions. Furthermore, all other possibilities for compensation (e.g. insurance) must be exhausted before it is possible to get compensation from the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority.
The Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority does not employ any psychologists or welfare officers and consequently cannot assist with that kind of counselling support.
Read more at Brottsoffermyndighetens webbplats (the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority website, link opened in new window).
The social welfare committee must ensure that a person who is the victim of a crime receives support and help. The same applies to close relatives of the victim. For further information about the responsibility of the social welfare committee in such matters, contact the municipal authority in which you live.