It’s only natural that taking part in court proceedings can make you feel anxious and that you’ll have a number of questions.
You’ll want to know what is going to happen and what you’re supposed to do.

The main purpose of recognizing specific rights of victims during their participation in criminal proceedings is to guarantee respect for the dignity, personal and psychological integrity, and privacy of the victim during criminal proceedings. Also, treat the victim with respect and sensitivity, in order to prevent the so-called ‘secondary and repeated victimization’.

Here you will find a brief description of the stages in a criminal case. We’ll try to give you short simple answers to questions such as:
“How do I report a crime?”,
“How is the investigation conducted?”,
“What happens in court?”,
“What is an appeal?”
and many others.

The case may be a long one and there will be a number of participants involved.
You can learn more about them in the section on who is who to who is who in criminal proceedings.

The process described below only applies when the individual who committed the crime is 15 or over. In cases where the crime is committed by a child or young person under the age of 15, a different kind of procedure known as educational guardianship is used.


How is crime defined?

A crime is understood as voluntary behaviour (or, in some cases, negligent behaviour) that infringes either the Criminal Code or other specific laws. The purpose of these laws is to protect and safeguard the legal interests that are fundamental for society, such as life, freedom, physical and moral integrity, sexual self-determination and property.

According to Article 1 of the Greek Penal Code, “There is no crime without a law that is valid before the commission of the act and defines its details as well as the penalty imposed for it”.

Reporting a crime

Reporting the crime is always the first step.
It is only after the complaint or report has been made that it is possible for the authorities to know that a crime occurred and to launch an investigation.

The importance of reporting a crime

If you were the victim of a crime, it is very important that you report it to the authorities. If you do so, it is more likely that the person who committed the crime will be caught, held responsible and prevented from doing the same thing again, to you or to others.
Reporting the crime to the authorities is also important for the purposes of crime statistics and general prevention or even for holding specific activities in certain cases and places to promote safety.

Police forces and personnel are required to report any crime they become aware of, whether in the course of their duties or because of their duties.
Reporting a crime is also mandatory for anyone who becomes aware of situations that endanger the life, physical or psychological integrity, or freedom of a child or young person under the age of 18.

There are several reasons why you might be unwilling to report a crime:

  • “It wasn’t important”.
    Even a minor crime can be distressing and upsetting. The authorities know this and will take your complaint seriously.
  • “It’s embarrassing”.
    You may be ashamed to report the crime. This often happens in cases of sexual or domestic violence. Authorities should deal with these situations sensitively and not judge you. Whatever your gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality or ethnicity, being a victim of crime can be traumatic.
  • “The authorities don’t care”.
    The authorities have many cases and may not deal with yours as quickly as you would expect, but they will give it the proper attention. They may not always be able to identify or catch the person responsible for the crime, but their duty is always to try.
  • “It’s over and it hasn’t affected me”.
    If the crime has not had much impact on you, all the better. Some people are able to cope well with these difficult situations and act almost as if nothing had happened, even when a serious crime was committed against them. Nevertheless, if you don’t report the crime, the authorities will not be able to try to catch the person who committed the crime and he/she might do it again. You should consider the fact that the next victim might not be as able as you are to overcome the effects of the crime.
  • “I’m worried about what will happen next”.
    It’s normal to feel nervous about having to go to the police, make a statement and then go to court to testify, but don’t forget that help is available to you throughout the entire process.

Whatever you decide to do, you are entitled to support. Even if you don’t report the crime against you, it is very important that you talk to someone about what happened and how you feel, and that you receive all the help you need.

Protecting victims of crime is a key obligation of the state, and especially for vulnerable categories of victims, such as children, victims of gender-based violence and victims of disabilities.

How to report a crime

  • If you are a victim of crime, you can report the offence to the public prosecutor or to the police, by lodging a criminal complaint (énklisi or mínysi).
    Strictly speaking, an énklisi is a criminal complaint made by the victim himself or herself. In certain situations criminal proceedings will be initiated only if there is such a complaint (e.g. in case of offences against a person’s honour and reputation. A mínysi is a criminal complaint or report made by a party other than the victim, in the case of an offence that the authorities can prosecute on their own initiative whether or not the victim complains. In practice, though, the term mínysi is used to refer to both types of complaint. Thus when a criminal complaint of whichever kind is lodged with the public prosecutor’s office, it is given a unique complaint register number known as an arithmós vivlíou minýseon — using the word minýsi).

You may also request another person to report the offence on your behalf. In this case, you must sign a written statement (dílosi or exousiodótisi), indicating the person that is to lodge the complaint for you. That statement does not come in a standardised form, but it must be signed before an officer of a central or local government authority or before a lawyer (including your own lawyer, if you already have one), who will authenticate your signature. The person reporting the offence on your behalf may be a lawyer or some other person you can trust. If the case is one where criminal proceedings require a criminal complaint by the victim, and the victim is dead, the right to lodge a complaint passes to his or her surviving spouse and children or to his or her parents (Article 118(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Kódikas Poinikís Dikonomías — ‘KPD’). If the victim has died as a result of the offence these persons may also join the criminal proceedings in their own right as civil parties seeking damages for the pain and suffering caused to them.

  • You can report an offence either orally or in writing.
    If you choose to report an offence orally, the officer receiving your complaint will draw up a report recording it.

You need to pay a fee to lodge your complaint; the amount of the fee is periodically adjusted by a joint decision of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Justice, Transparency and Human Rights. In exceptional situations, you will be allowed to pay the fee after you lodge the complaint, but in any event you must do so within three days. If you fail to pay the fee your complaint will be rejected as inadmissible. You are not required to pay the fee if you are entitled to legal aid. Nor are you required to pay the fee if you are a victim of an offence against sexual freedom or of financial exploitation of sexual life, domestic violence or racist discrimination (Articles 81A and 361B of the Criminal Code (Poinikós Kódikas — ‘PK’) or if there has been a breach of equal treatment (Article 46(2) KPD).

In the case of offences that can be prosecuted on the initiative of the authorities whether or not the victim has so requested, there are no time limits on reporting an offence, except that offences of intermediate gravity (plimmelímata) are time-barred after five years. In certain cases, however, the offence can be prosecuted only if you the victim, who have been harmed by it, ask for criminal proceedings to be brought. In these situations, you need to file a criminal complaint (énklisi) within three months of the date on which you became aware of the offence and the identity of the offender (if you know who the offender is).

There is no standard form you can use to lodge a complaint.

Your complaint must include the following information:

  • your full identification details;
  • the offender and his or her contact details, if you know them;
  • a thorough description of the facts;
  • any available documentary evidence substantiating your complaint;
  • any witnesses you suggest could be examined;
  • the details of your lawyer, if you have appointed one.

If you do not understand or speak Greek, you can lodge a criminal complaint in a language you do understand, or be given the necessary linguistic assistance, always subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other specific criminal laws. You may request a translation of the document free of charge [Article 58 of Law 4478/2017, on the rights of victims when making a complaint (Article 5 of Directive 2012/29/EU)].

Source: e-justice- How do I report a crime?

Victims’ rights following reporting a crime

Victims of crime have specific rights from the first moment of reporting the crime, according to the legislation (articles 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, and 62 of Law 4478/2017). These rights include:

  • a. Victims’ right to understand and be understood to Victims right to understand and to be understood (according to Article 56 of Law 4478/2017)
  • b. Right to receive information from the first contact with the competent authority to Right to receive information from the very first contact with the competent authority (according to Article 57 of Law 4478/2017)
  • c. Victims’ right to file a complaint to Victims’ rights when making a complaint (according to Article 58 of Law 4478/2017)
  • d. The right of victims to receive information about their case to Victims’ right to receive information about their case (according to Article 59 of Law 4478/2017)
  • e. Right to interpretation and translation to The right to translation (according to Article 60 of Law 4478/2017)
  • f. Right of access to victim support and care services to The right to access victim support services (according to Article 61 of Law 4478/2017)
  • g. Support from victim support services to Support from victim support services (according to Article 62 of Law 4478/2017)

A personalized approach and recognition of the basic needs of victims are the main pillars of establishing these rights. Each case is different, depending on the general and specific characteristics of the victims (social and demographic characteristics, type of crime, relationship with the perpetrator, etc.). The purpose of establishing a minimum set of victims’ rights applies to all victims of crime, while individualized treatment is about meeting the needs of victims before, during, and after criminal proceedings.

Also, as stated in the explanatory memorandum of Law 4478/2017, the reference to “Police or other competent authority” makes it clear that the relevant obligation is triggered and falls on all the authorities which are competent under Greek law to deal with a criminal act, without exception, such as the Police, the Coast Guard, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, etc. and irrespective of whether or not the victim makes a relevant complaint. In addition, “contact” should not be understood to mean only face-to-face communication, but also communication by telephone, internet, etc.

THE INVESTIGATION: the Inquiry Stage

In Greece, criminal proceedings begin with investigation of the crime (inquiry stage and investigation). The purpose of the inquiry stage is to investigate the circumstances of the case and to decide whether or not to prosecute.
The crime is investigated by the police and judicial officers (prosecutor and/or investigating judge). Through the inquiry stage, the prosecutor determines whether or not an accusation is valid and what the likelihood is that a crime has been committed.

At this stage, the police officers in charge of the investigation will collect evidence by, for example:

  • interviews with the victim, the suspect, and the witnesses;
  • examining the crime scene for trace evidence;
  • identifying the suspect, that is, asking the victim or witnesses to describe in detail the person who committed the crime, whether they had seen this person before and in which circumstances and, ultimately, whether they can identify him/her from among a group of people or a number of photos as the offender of the crime;
  • requesting the opinion of expert witnesses: for example, a ballistic expert who analyses bullet trajectory, or a psychologist who evaluates the suspect’s personality, or a doctor who evaluates bodily harm, etc.;
  • requesting potentially relevant documents such as the report from the health centre where the victim was attended, or the list of phone calls made by the suspect, etc.

After giving evidence to the police, it is normal for some time to go by before receiving information on the progress of the case. The inquiry stage may last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the amount of evidence to be gathered and the complexity of the investigation. It may even be necessary for police officers to talk to the victim more than once during the investigation. If the victim wishes to know how the case is progressing, they should contact the police officer in charge of the investigation or the public prosecutor assigned to the inquiry process, provide the case number and ask whether there is any information about it.

The victim must cooperate with the authorities whenever requested to do so and inform them about anything that could be helpful for the investigation.

How can I find out how the case is progressing?

When a criminal complaint is lodged it is given a unique complaint registration number. That number allows you to monitor the progress of the case using the register kept at the prosecutor’s office or the responsible complaints office. You may also request and obtain a case progress certificate (pistopoiitikó poreías) indicating the current stage of the proceedings.
Source: e-justice- How do I find out what’s happening with the case?

In cases where there is an increased risk and where questions are raised about the safety of the victim, his or her family, or even about the progress of the criminal proceedings, appropriate protection measures shall be taken as provided for in the legislation.


At the end of the investigation, the police officer in charge of the case forwards all the information collected to the competent public prosecutor. The public prosecutor examines the work done up to that point and forwards the case to the court together with his or her recommendation as to how the proceedings should proceed.
The court, after examining the case file and the public prosecutor’s proposal, may proceed to trial or close the case.

“Can I challenge the Prosecutor’s order to close the case and not prosecute?”
If the prosecutor at the magistrates’ court (eisangeléas plimmeleiodikón) makes an order rejecting your complaint as without foundation in law, or obviously unfounded on the merits, or incapable of being assessed by a court, you may challenge the order before the responsible prosecutor at the court of appeal (eisangeléas efetón) (Articles 47 and 48 of the Criminal Procedure Code) within three months of the date of the order — this time‑limit cannot be extended for any reason. To challenge the order you will have to pay a fee, which will be refunded if the prosecutor sustains it.
Source: e-justice-Can I appeal if my case is closed before going to court?

Arrest – Restrictive measures – Temporary Custody:

Where the suspect has been discovered either committing the crime or is arrested up to one day after the crime was committed, it is possible to arrest them without a warrant.

Where the suspect has not been caught in the act of committing the crime, a warrant is required.

The arrested person is put before the Prosecutor within 24 hours.

Restrictions (e.g. bail, the defendant’s obligation to report to a police station on a regular basis, prohibition on leaving the country) are imposed in order to prevent the commission of further offences and ensure that the defendant attends for police interview and Court.

Custody: If the restrictions mentioned above are insufficient, in cases of more serious crimes, suspects may be remanded in custody. Such custody can last for up to 18 months for major felonies or 12 months for less serious felonies and 6 months for recurrent manslaughter arising out of negligence.

Source: e-justice Preliminary examination/preliminary criminal investigation/criminal investigation


A trial is a hearing that takes place in a courtroom. During the trial, the court considers whether there is enough evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt to convict him or her of the crime that he or she is accused of. If the court finds the defendant guilty, it convicts him/her and imposes a sentence. If the defendant is found not guilty, the court shall acquit him/her.

The prosecutor draws up the indictment, sets the trial date and summons the defendant, the victim to appear in support of the prosecution and witnesses at least 15 days before the trial, or 30 days if they live in another European country.

At the trial, it is also discussed and decided whether the victim and any other people who suffered losses as a result of the crime and requested compensation are entitled to receive it.

The proceedings shall be public unless publicity is likely to be prejudicial to public morality or there are reasons to protect the privacy of the parties.

Preparing for the trial

It is perfectly normal to feel anxious and uncertain before the trial. This is a new situation and one to which you are not accustomed. That’s why it is important that you prepare for it.
If you get the chance, go to the courtroom a few days before the trial so you become familiar with different areas, such as the courtroom and the witness waiting room and, if possible, attend another trial or at least part of it.

On the day of the trial, you are likely to meet the defendant and his/her friends and relatives. You should prepare for this possibility by planning in advance what you should do: trying to keep away from them, not reacting to any provocation and, if you feel threatened, informing the court officer and/or the police officer in the courtroom immediately. If possible, take someone with you. Whatever your role in the proceedings, you are entitled to be accompanied by a lawyer.

At the trial, you will be asked questions by the judge, the Public Prosecutor, the defence lawyer and your own lawyer, if you have one. It is natural that you will be asked to provide as much detail as possible, because the more information the court has, the better its decision will be. What the judge expects you to do is to tell the court what happened in your own words. Therefore, before the trial, you should try to arrange in your mind all the information you think it is important to transmit to the court. You could also take some notes with you, such as the dates of the most relevant facts. However, it is normal that you will not remember some details, especially if some time has gone by since the day of the crime. In these cases, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t remember”.

Will I have access to court records?

As a civil party you have access to the contents of the case file and can obtain copies of the court’s judgment.
Source: e-justice-Will I be able to access court files?

Don’t forget that if you were the victim of a crime, attending the trial can play an important part in your recovery.
Criminal behaviour is neither accepted nor tolerated by society and the trial plays a key role in conveying this message: those who break the law must be held responsible and suffer the consequences.

How do I participate in the trial?

You can choose whether to file a civil action so that you become a party (litigant) and have important procedural rights throughout the criminal proceedings or simply to testify as a material witness, since the proceedings are initiated, in particular, because of the offence against you.

You can only participate as a party to the proceedings if you lodge a civil action seeking satisfaction of your claims for damages or financial compensation from the offender for non-material damage or mental anguish. The statement shall be made either in the complaint or in another document until the end of the ordinary investigation (Article 308 of the Criminal Procedure Code) to the competent public prosecutor in person or by a proxy with written power of attorney, special or general.

As a civil party, you are a party to the proceedings, with a number of rights. You can attend all court hearings, including hearings in camera, and you have access to all the documents in the case. You are allowed to speak before the court to present your claims and you can also comment after a witness has been examined or make submissions or provide explanations on any testimony given or evidence presented (Article 358 of the Criminal Procedure Code). You may put questions, through your lawyer, to the offender, the witnesses and the other participants (e.g. any technical experts appointed in the case). You will be asked to testify as a witness (though not on oath), and you can also propose witnesses, provided that the court is notified in good time. You are entitled to request an adjournment of the hearing or the replacement of a judge.

As a victim, you may also be summoned by the court to be examined as a witness. In this case, you will be required to appear before the court. During the hearing you will have the opportunity to explain to the court the facts relating to the offence. The judge may also ask you some additional questions about the incident.

Source: e-justice-Can I be involved in the trial?

The Courtroom

The judge presides over the hearing. In cases involving more serious crimes, the court shall be composed of three judges. For some of the most serious crimes, there may be a jury trial, consisting of a panel of 1 judge and 4 citizens. The composition of the panel shall be determined by the court conducting the criminal proceedings.

Criminal proceedings are conducted by the following Criminal Courts:

  • The Supreme Court
  • The Courts of Appeal (Three-member and Five-member)
  • The Mixed Jury Courts of Appeal
  • The Mixed Jury Courts
  • The Plenary Courts (One-member and Three-member)
  • The Juvenile Courts

Other persons that are present during the hearing include:

  • The Prosecutor
  • The Judicial Officer
  • The defendant and his/her lawyer
  • The civil claimant, when the victim has obtained this status, and his or her lawyer.
  • The witnesses and expert witnesses.


An appeal against the court’s decision may be lodged by the defendant, the victim/civil claimant, and the prosecutor.

At the end of the trial, the court will convict or acquit the defendant depending on the evidence presented. If the court finds the defendant not guilty, it clears him or her of the accusation, and if you have joined the proceedings as a civil party (politikós enágon) it will not rule on your claim for reparation or financial compensation for moral harm or pain and suffering. In such a case, the defendant is entitled to counterclaim against you seeking compensation and any expenses he or she has incurred in relation to the case (Article 71 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). If the court finds the defendant guilty, it will sentence him or her, and will rule on the amount of compensation you are to receive from the defendant on the basis of your civil claim.

If the court acquits the defendant, you can appeal against the judgment only if you have been ordered to pay the defendant compensation and expenses, and only in that respect, under Article 486(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In addition, if you are a civil party, you can appeal against a part of the judgment that dismissed your claim as unfounded in law or a part that awarded you financial satisfaction or compensation (Article 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

Alternatively, you can ask the public prosecutor to appeal against the judgment.

Source: e-justice-Can I appeal against the ruling?

The appeal must state the reasons for not agreeing with the judgment and must weigh up the evidence submitted and/or whether the applicable legal procedures were followed.
Any parties to the proceedings who are affected by the lodging of the appeal are notified so that they may lodge their response within 30 days.


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