Right to information

It is crucial for victims to receive information on how the criminal proceedings are conducted and what the subject matter will be. Information gives a sense of bearing and relief during the trial.

All victims:

  • Information on rights in criminal proceedings Before being questioned by the criminal police, the public prosecutor and the court, victims must be informed on the subject matter of the proceedings and on their principal procedural rights, and on how to obtain compensation and assistance.
  • Release of the accused Upon request, victims must be informed when the accused is released from pre-trial detention. This application must be filed with the penitentiary institution in which the accused is detained. Victimsupportorganisationsmayhelp in filingthatapplication.
  • Discontinuation of proceedings Every victim must be informed of the public prosecutor’s decision to discontinue the investigations. This notice must state the reason why the proceedings are discontinued and also inform the victim about the possibility to request a reasoned statement on the grounds of discontinuation within 14 days, and/or to file a motion for resumption of the criminal proceedings within another 14 days.
  • Staying of proceedings Every victim must be informed when investigative proceedings against an unknown offender are stayed. The victim also has the right to be informed as soon as the unknown offender has been identified and the proceedings are resumed.
  • Extrajudicial settlement Every victim must be informed of the public prosecutor’s intent to end the proceedings by way of extrajudicial settlement, if the offender has not yet made full compensation, or if this is deemed necessary in order to enforce the victim’s rights. Before prosecution is dropped the victim has an opportunity to comment (see Special proceedings / Extrajudicialsettlement).

Victims of a criminal offence that is punishable by a sentence of more than six months of imprisonment who have sustained bodily injury or harm may claim compensation under the Act on Crime Victims.
There is a public fund for victims set up with the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection offering support to victims of violent crimes, if it is unlikely that the offender will pay compensation. Applicants need to provide a copy of the complaint and submit their application with the local branch of the Federal Office of Social Welfare.

For more information, please click here:
Federal Office of Social Welfare

or turn to:
Weisser Ring Assistance for Crime Victims

Access to appropriate victim support organisations

As soon as a victim reports a crime to the police or the public prosecutor, the authorities must inform him/her about appropriate victim support organisations close to where they live, where they may receive free information and support. Usually, you will be handed out an information brochure which you should read carefully.

If the police have issued an expulsion or out-of-bounds order against the offender, this will be reported to the nearest violence protection centre and/or intervention centre against violence in the family. On the next work day at the latest, a staff member of that organisation will contact the person affected to offer support.

Victim support organisations are able to provide first-hand psychological, social and legal support to victims. In Austria, most victim support organisations cater to specific groups of victims (children, women, situational crime, sexual abuse, and men) in order to meet the special needs of victims with sufficiently specialised staff.
In particular, victims are informed about benefits to which they are entitled to under the Act on Crime Victims and are assisted when filing their application and dealing with the authorities. Victims also receive psychological counselling; in emergencies, victim support organisations such as Weisser Ring will also grant financial support at short notice (Weisser Ring Crime Victims).

For more information on victim support institutions in Austria see:
Victim support

Translation assistance

Victims who do not have a command of the language of the proceedings are entitled to translation assistance.

Translation assistance is granted at least when victim are informed of their rights during the proceedings and in hearings in which the victim takes part.

Moreover, every victim is entitled to view the case file and to free translation assistance if he/she does not have a sufficient command of the language of the proceedings. This ensures that victims receive all information that is relevant for their participation. In exceptional cases, the right to inspect the case file may be denied or restricted if this could interfere with the purpose of the investigations or with untampered witness statements.

Special groups of victims

Victims of crime, duress or violation of their sexual integrity must be informed of the possibility to receive legal and psychosocial procedural assistance before they are first questioned. (See Victim advocacy services).

  • Victims whose sexual integrity might have been violated must be informed about further rights before their first questioning, including the right to be questioned by a person of their own sex, the right to refuse answering questions about their most intimate sphere of life, and about details of the criminal offence which would be inacceptable for them to describe, the right to being questioned with minimum distress, or the possibility to exclude the public from the trial.
  • Information on the accused’s release During the investigative proceedings, victims who were exposed to violence or duress, or whose sexual integrity may have been violated, must immediately be informed if the accused is released from pre-trial detention.
  • If the offender was convicted to a custodial sentence, victims having been exposed to violence or duress, or whose sexual integrity was violated, must be informed on request when the detainee leaves the penitentiary institution for the first time without being surveyed, or of his/her imminent or actual release. This also applies if an accused is released from electronically monitored house arrest (“electronic tag”).