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Representation of
crime victims
and witnesses

Rights of crime victims and witnesses

Victims of a criminal offence generally have few rights in criminal proceedings. As a victim or injured party, you are first and foremost a witness and therefore evidence, comparable to video recordings of the offence or DNA traces. But you may also have the right to join a public prosecution or an application in preventive detention proceedings as private accessory prosecutor (“Nebenklage”).

Why you should join public prosecution

It allows you to actively participate in the trial, including the entire public main hearing. As a private accessory prosecutor (“Nebenkläger”) you can ask questions, submit motions for evidence and make statements yourself or through your lawyer, which is also authorised to make a plea at the end of the proceedings.

How do you join the public prosecution?

As a general rule, victims of a serious criminal offence may join public proesecution. In the case of homicide offences, the surviving parents, children, siblings or spouses have this right. Further information can be found under Section 395 German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO)

Costs of the public prosecution

Victims of serious offences are entitled to have a lawyer appointed to represent their interests. In this case the lawyers fees are covered by the state treasury. You also have the option to apply for legal aid. Whether you are granted legal aid depends on your financial circumstances.

Witness advocate

Even if you can’t or don’t want to join public prosecution, you have the right to consult a lawyer, also known as witness counsellor. Section 406f of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung, StPO) states that aggrieved persons may avail themselves of the assistance of a lawyer or may be represented by such lawyer. An assisting lawyer who appears at the aggrieved person’s examination is permitted to be present.

My work as a crime victim and witness advocate

You and your interests are at the centre of my work. I am particularly concerned with providing you with expert and comprehensive information about the course and possibilities of the proceedings, as well as defending your rights as the aggrieved party just as professionally and vigorously as I would as a defence attorney. In contrast to other colleagues, I do not ideologically side with either the (alleged) perpetrator or the victim. Therefore, I am familiar with the strategies of the defence and can react appropriately as a victim advocate.

I can also advise you on issues relating to the assertion of claims for damages and compensation for pain and suffering, for example by means of a so-called adhesion application or in accordance with the Victims Compensation Act.

Sandra Korzenski

Specialist lawyer for criminal law

Rechtsanwältin Sandra Korzenski Fachanwältin für Strafrecht und Dozentin

Lawyer for criminal law • Criminal Defense Lawyer • Specialist lawyer for criminal law

Sandra Korzenski
Lawyer & Lecturer
Specialist lawyer for criminal law

Nürnberger Straße 16
10789 Berlin
(at KaDeWe)