Accessing Justice

Your Rights as a Victim of Offences

Victims of crime and other offences in the EU can receive protection, support, and access to justice under EU law and have the right:

  • to understand and to be understood: all communication with victims must be provided in a simple and accessible language. The form of communication must be adapted to the specific needs of every victim (nationality, any disability, age, language).
  • to information: national authorities give victims a range of information concerning their rights, their case, and the services and assistance available to them. The information must be given from the first contact with a competent authority and without delay.
  • to support: access to support services free of charge that can also be confidential. Support must include both general support services and specialist support services such as shelters, trauma support, and counselling, specifically adapted to different types of victims.
  • to participate in criminal proceedings:
  1. right to be informed if the alleged offender will not be prosecuted and have the right appeal if they do not agree with the decision.
  2. right to compensation. If restorative justice proceeding is used in the national system, there are now safeguards in place to ensure victims’ safe participation.
  • to protection and to individual assessment: victims must be protected from both the offender and from risk of further harm by the criminal justice system itself. The protection needs are based on an individual assessment.

For further reading, please see the Commission’s webpage on victim’s rights, and the Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.


Your Rights as Suspect or Accused of an Offence

Persons who are suspected or accused of an offence also have rights that must be respected in all EU countries:

  • he right to information
  • the right to interpretation and translation
  • the right to have a lawyer
  • the right to be presumed innocent and to be represented at trial
  • the right to legal aid. There are also special safeguards for children suspected and accused in criminal proceedings. For instance, children who are suspects or accused in criminal cases have the right to an individual assessment that identifies their specific needs in terms of protection. 

For further reading, please see the Commission’s webpage on rights of suspect and accused.