You as the aggrieved person have various rights after a crime. The following paragraphs provide information about questions of protection, assistance and accompaniment during various phases of the criminal proceedings. For further information, refer to Protection against threats, injuries or retaliation.
If you as the aggrieved person feel threatened by the accused person or any person related to the accused person, you should always inform the police, the public prosecution office and the court in order to enable them to examine, prepare and take protective measures.
A protective measure of this type is, for example, the concealment of your (new) place of residence. However, it must be possible to summon you to examinations during the investigative proceedings and the main hearing. The police, the public prosecution office and the court, but also a lawyer you have involved in this case can support you in the selection and designation of the necessary address for service.
If you have experienced a crime, it may be important to you personally to avoid contact with the accused. This cannot be completely excluded. In order to examine and - perhaps - to facilitate this possibility, however, you should contact the police, the public prosecution office or the court before your examination and ask whether and how an encounter may be avoided.
If you as the aggrieved person are summoned to the court for your witness statement, it may be possible that you have to wait for a longer or shorter period of time for your examination as witness. Regional courts and some local courts have a witness room for these waiting periods in order to avoid contact between the witnesses and the accused, if possible. In most cases, the respective information will be included in the summons to appear. If this is not the case, you should ask by telephone for such possibilities in due time before the date.
In most courts, witnesses have only limited or no possibilities of getting beverages or small snacks. You as the aggrieved person are entitled to bring along something to drink or something to eat for the time you are waiting for your examination. However, you must expect that not only you as a person, but also your food and beverages will be checked for reasons of safety and security. During the examination, you are not allowed to eat and drink. But before the examination, you may ask whether you are allowed to drink water during a long interview.
Every main hearing of a court is normally open to the public, i.e. there may be spectators during your examination as witness. Particularly in cases of violence in partner relationships or of domestic violence, it may be necessary to speak about personal details which refer to your private sphere, during your examination as witness. On your request, the court can exclude the public during your examination. The court may also exclude the public completely or partly from the hearing without your request if you are still under the age of 18.
If the presence of other persons during your examination in the main hearing results in the imminent danger that you will suffer a serious deterioration of your physical or mental well-being, the court may order that your examination takes place elsewhere and is transmitted to the courtroom audio-visually (video conference).
In the end, the court may exclude the accused from your examination as witness, if it is to be feared that you will not tell the truth in his/her presence, you are not yet 18 years old, and the examination in his/her presence may lead to serious disadvantages for your physical or mental well-being.
This is, however, a serious infringement of the rights of the accused and is therefore applied only in exceptional cases.
If you as an aggrieved person participate in criminal proceedings or are summoned to appear as witness, you will usually have many questions. These questions may concern the arrangement of an examination date by you. However, fears and uncertainties may arise in you or persons close to you.
During the criminal proceedings, aggrieved persons may be accompanied by experienced persons as contacts and helpers. Such persons accompany witnesses in an honorary capacity (WEISSER RING e.V.) or as professional helpers (Stiftung Opferhilfe Niedersachsen). In case of certain crimes or if you are particularly oppressed, you may ask professional specialists and organisations for help, for example, the psychosocial court assistance. You will find individual organisations and support facilities in the List of Victim Support Facilities. As a rule, this support is free of charge.
Besides that, you may look for counsel from lawyers. In case of serious criminal offences you may get that support free of charge,
If you need advice or help beyond your participation in the criminal proceedings, you may also contact all known support facilities and medical facilities.