Defendant in a criminal trial

The accused in a crime (i.e. the defendant in a case) is notified of the charge brought against him or her when he or she is served with a summons. This is issued either by a court or, in certain cases, by the prosecutor.

In the summons, the defendant is exhorted to respond to the claims made against him or her. At the same time, he or she is usually summoned to court, but he or she may also be requested to respond to the charge in writing before the trial.

At the latest, at the trial, the defendant is asked whether he or she admits or denies committing the offence of which he or she is accused. The defendant is also asked his or her stand regarding the injured party’s claims for compensation.

The court or the prosecutor summons the parties involved in the case to the trial (main hearing). The summons should be read carefully, as it indicates whether the parties must attend themselves or whether an attorney may be sent on their behalf. The summons also indicates whether the case can be decided despite the absence of the party. Absence without a lawful excuse usually incurs a penalty of a considerable conditional fine.

A simple criminal case can be decided at a district court solely on the basis of written procedure without a main hearing. This always requires the consent of the accused.

Published 5.11.2013