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Criminal proceedings — Presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial

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Criminal proceedings — Presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive (EU) 2016/343 — strengthening certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It aims to guarantee:

  • the presumption of innocence of anyone accused or suspected of a crime by the police or justice authorities;
  • the right of an accused person to be present at their criminal trial.

KEY POINTS

Scope

  • The directive applies to any individual (natural person) suspected or accused in criminal proceedings.
  • It applies at all stages of the criminal proceedings, from the moment a person is suspected or accused of having committed a criminal offence to the final verdict.

Rights

The directive sets out fundamental rights of an accused or suspected person in a criminal proceeding:

  • innocentuntil proven guilty
    • EU countries must take steps to ensure that public statements by public authorities and judicial decisions (other than those on guilt) do not refer to the person as being guilty
    • EU countries must also take steps to ensure that suspected or accused persons are not presented as being guilty in court or in public by physically restraining them;
  • burden of proof on the prosecution;
  • right to remain silent and not to incriminate oneself;
  • right to be present at one’s own trial — a trial can be held in the absence of a suspected or accused person when one of these conditions is met
    • the person has been informed in due time of the trial and of the consequences of non-appearance
    • the person is represented by a mandated lawyer who they themselves were appointed by the state.

Remedies

  • EU countries must ensure that effective remedies are in place for breaches of these rights.
  • Where the right to silence or the right not to incriminate oneself has been breached, EU countries must ensure that the rights of the defence and the fairness of the proceedings are taken into account when assessing the statements concerned.
  • Where a suspected or accused person was not present at their trial and the above conditions were not met, they have the right to a new trial or to another legal remedy that allows the merits of the case to be determined anew (including the presentation of new evidence).

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It applies from 31 March 2016. EU countries have to incorporate it into national law by 1 April 2018.

BACKGROUND

MAIN DOCUMENT

Directive (EU) 2016/343 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings (OJ L 65, 11.3.2016, pp. 1-11)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (OJ L 280, 26.10.2010, pp. 1-7)

Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings ( OJ L 142, 1.6.2012, pp. 1-10)

Directive 2013/48/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings, and on the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty (OJ L 294, 6.11.2013, pp. 1-12)

Directive (EU) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings (OJ L 132, 21.5.2016, pp. 1-20)

Directive (EU) 2016/1919 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on legal aid for suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings and for requested persons in European arrest warrant proceedings (OJ L 297, 4.11.2016, pp. 1-8)

last update 14.02.2017

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