U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Victim Protection in Criminal Proceedings: The Victim's Rights to Information, Participation and Protection in Criminal Proceedings (From Resource Material Series No. 63, P 57-67, 2004, Simon Cornell, ed. -- See NCJ-209404

NCJ Number
Sylvia Frey
Date Published
July 2004
11 pages
This article provides an overview of the components of German procedural law relating to the protection of victims and victim witnesses.
The first half of the paper describes the victim’s legal position within German law, especially concerning their information and procedural rights within criminal proceedings. Specifically, the author reviews a victims’ right to information during the investigation proceedings and during the court proceedings; their right to inspect legal files; their right to be informed about an offender’s release from custody; and reforms of the German Crime Procedure Code that impact victims of criminal offenses. The reforms should allow victims to obtain information about the course of proceedings; about the decision whether to go forward with main proceedings; on the date set for the main court hearing; on custody, committal, or release; and about any relaxations of the conditions of confinement. The second half of the paper considers the victim’s situation as a witness in criminal proceedings, particularly following the enactment of the Victim Protection Act of 1998, a provision designed to protect victims of criminal offenses. The rights of victim witnesses include the right to bring a person of the victim’s choice to assist the victim during their examination; the right to keep personal information from the courtroom under certain circumstances; the right to use video technology in criminal proceedings under certain circumstances; the right to exclude the general public from the main court hearing; the right to testify in the defendant’s absence; and the right to a separate waiting area in the courtroom. Thus, while the protection of victim’s rights is not perfect in Germany, improvements are constantly being made to further protect victims of criminal offenses.