Court proceeding

When the prosecutor has sent the criminal file to the court, the court shall determine time for the court session. In case of court sessions pursuant to the general procedure, the victim and witnesses will be summoned to give testimonies in the court session. They have the obligation to come to the court session and give testimonies. The victim shall also be summoned in case of alternative proceedings and conciliation proceedings, but the participation is not mandatory. The scheduled time of the court session can also be checked on the state gazette website Riigi Teataja, or asked from the court of the Prosecutor's Office.

What happens in court? When you arrive at the courthouse, you can immediately go to the relevant courtroom. There is always a guard at the entrance of the courthouse who will guide you where to go. When you have found the right courtroom, please wait at the door until you are called in. If the door is open, you are allowed to enter. There you will see a registrar who will instruct where to sit. Before the start of each court session, the registrar shall verify the identity of all summoned persons.

At the beginning of the court session, the composition of court will be announced, the right to file petitions of challenge will be explained (if any party wishes to remove a judge or a prosecutor), and it will be possible to submit requests (e.g. in order to have a court session in camera).

Before the interrogation of each person, he/she will be introduced his/her rights and obligations.

In addition, in the court session, evidence will be examined, experts will be interrogated, etc.

The victim and the witnesses need to attend the court session only if they have been summoned to give testimonies. The victim may attend the entire court session, but the witnesses must wait outside the courtroom before giving their testimonies. As the court sessions are usually public, there might be other people in the courtroom. If you think that the court session will discuss the details of your private life, you may request the court to declare that the court session shall be held in camera.

Additional information on definitions used in criminal proceedings is available here – Definitions in Criminal Proceedings