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For the Customers

Proceedings Before the Court

Whether the next phase will take place at the local or district court depends on the extent of the prescribed criminal sanction for a certain criminal offence.

Proceedings before a local court

Minor criminal offences are dealt with in proceedings before local courts (the so-called summary proceedings) for which a fine or imprisonment of up to three years is prescribed. There is no investigation in summary proceedings; however, prior to filing a bill of indictment, a local court judge may carry out certain investigative acts (regarding those involved in the incident) at a state prosecutor’s request (e.g. examination of witnesses, ordering of expert opinions).

Summary proceedings are not possible in cases against minors.

With regard to criminal offences dealt with before local courts, the state prosecutor may, when filing the bill of indictment, propose that the court issues a punitive order by means of which a criminal sanction proposed by the state prosecutor is imposed on the defendant (immediately) without prior main hearing and presentation of evidence. If the defendant does not object to the punitive order, the court issues a judgement of conviction. If an appeal is not filed against the judgment, the proceedings become final, and the criminal sanction is executed. If the defendant files an appeal against the judgment on the punitive order, the main hearing is carried out as per the summary proceedings.

Proceedings before a district court

Once the investigation is completed, the state prosecutor may file the indictment with the court. Together with the material from the investigation, the indictment is assigned to one of the judges of the criminal department under the prescribed procedure. The indictment is delivered to the defendant and the counsel.

An appeal may be filed against the indictment, which is then considered by a pre-trial panel composed of three judges. If the appeal is not filed or the panel dismiss it, the indictment becomes final.

Pre-trial hearing

Once the indictment is final, the judge schedules a pre-trial hearing, at which the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty before the court, and determines the further course of criminal proceedings. There are two options:

  • if the defendant pleads guilty and the judge accepts the admission of guilt, a hearing to impose a criminal sanction is usually held immediately, which ends with a judgement of conviction;
  • if the defendant does not plead guilty, they may propose additional evidence, exclusion of documents from the file, exclusion of the judge, or convey that they wish to be tried by a single judge.

Once the decision on the defendant’s proposals is final, the criminal case is ready to be scheduled for the main hearing.

Main hearing

The most important part of the criminal proceedings is the main hearing.

The public is excluded from the main hearing only if this is necessary for the protection of the personal or family life of parties to proceedings, confidentiality and public order protection, etc.

At the main hearing, the public prosecutor presents the indictment, the judge (panel) listens to the defendant’s defence and presentation of evidence (e.g. hears witnesses, reads the expert opinion, reviews video recordings). After hearing the closing arguments by the parties, the panel retreats for a secret consultation and a vote and then the president of the panel declares the judgement publicly (reads the verdict and summarises the main reasons for the decision).

A printed copy of the judgement with a detailed explanation of the decision is made later and served to the parties.

The judge (panel) may impose on guilty offenders a prison sentence, a fine, a prohibition to drive a motor vehicle or an expulsion of a foreign citizen from the country. Under certain conditions, the judge may impose a suspended sentence on an offender instead of the penalty. Precautionary measures (e.g. mandatory psychiatric treatment, exclusion from public-sector employment, suspension of a driving licence, confiscation of items) may also be ordered for criminal offenders.

Appeals procedure

Clients may appeal against the judgment issued at first instance (judgment of a local or district court) within 30 days of the receipt of the written judgment. A timely appeal suspends the execution of the judgment.

If a suspended sentence or a fine was imposed, the appeal must be announced eight days after the delivery of the judgment. Otherwise, it is understood that the beneficiary waived their right to appeal (and the written judgment will not include an explanatory note). Only after the appeal is announced does the court prepare a written judgement with full explanation and deliver it to the parties. A 30-day deadline for filing the appeal starts at that point. If a prison sentence was imposed, an announcement of the appeal is not required. In this case, the written judgment must always include a full explanation.

Each judgment must be equipped with a legal instruction, i.e. information about where and how to file an appeal.

A panel of three higher court judges decides on the appeal. Once the higher court decides on the appeal, the judgment is forwarded to the district or local court, which delivers it to the parties. A judgment in a criminal case becomes final when it is received by the district or local court.

Finality of judgment

A judgment becomes final when it cannot be challenged with an appeal. The finality of the judgment means that what has been decided upon is true, lawful and final.

The result of finality is that the judgment may be executed.

Extraordinary legal remedies

As, irrespective of all rules on the course of criminal proceedings, it may occur that a judgment is based on an incorrectly established actual situation or contains a violation of (substantive or procedural) law, the so-called extraordinary legal remedies (reopening of proceedings and a request for protection of legality) may also be applied in Slovenian criminal proceedings.

A request for reopening criminal proceedings may be filed due to an incorrectly established actual situation if the proceedings have already been finalised and new facts and evidence are proposed.

The reopening of the criminal proceedings may be proposed by the parties to the proceedings and the counsel, and after the convicted person’s death, it may be requested by the state prosecutor and the convicted person’s relatives.

The court initially decides whether the reopening of proceedings is admissible or not. If the request is granted and the reopening is permitted, a new main hearing is scheduled immediately, or the case is returned to the investigation phase. New criminal proceedings are carried out before the local or district court, resulting in a new judgment.

A reopening of criminal proceedings may also be requested once the convicted person has served their sentence, but this is only possible if it is in favour of the convicted person.

A request for protection of legality may be filed after finalised proceedings due to the violation of a criminal law or provisions of criminal proceedings.

The request for protection of legality may be filed by the supreme state prosecutor, the defendant and the counsel. After the defendant’s death, their family members may file the request for the defendant’s benefit. The supreme state prosecutor may file the request to the detriment or for the benefit of the defendant. The deadline for filing the request for protection of legality for the defendant, the counsel and the defendant’s family members is three months from being served the final judgement.

If the request is filed to the defendant’s detriment and the court finds it justified, the court can establish that the law was violated, but may no longer change the final judgment.

The request for protection of legality is decided on by the Supreme Court at its session.