This page contains information on the role and rights of the offended and the next of kin in a court case.
The offended is the term used for someone who has been exposed to a criminal act. In cases in which someone has died as the result of such an act, the term ‘next of kin’ refers to:
their spouse or cohabitant
Acting as a witness
The prosecuting authority prosecutes criminal cases in the public interest. The victims and next of kin will be classed as witnesses if they want to testify during a case (main hearing). Victims and next of kin are entitled to be present at all court sessions, unless the court decides otherwise. Victims and next of kin wtih counsel of the injured party can follow the full main hearing. Other witnesses cannot sit in on the main hearing before they have given their testimony.
Victims and next of kin cannot seek remedy in judgements against the accused/sentenced parties. That means for example, that they cannot appeal against judgement if the accused is not remanded in custody or is cleared. Please also refer to the point below on compensation claims.
Counsel for the injured party
Victims and next of kin can claim legal representation by counsel for the injured party. Section 107 a of the Criminal Procedure Act (link to lovdata.no) states the instances in which this applies. For example, victims in cases concerning certain types of sexual assault have a right to legal counsel, and the next of kin in cases involving the death of a minor (under the age of 18) as a result of a criminal act. The court can also appoint counsel for the injured party when special circumstances indicate the need for a lawyer.
The counsel for the injured party protects the interests of the victim and deceased's next of kin during the investigation and main hearing of the case. During the main hearing, they can put questions to the accused, witnesses and experts on behalf of the victims and next of kin. The same applies regardless of whether a claim for compensation has been made in the case. See separate item on counsel for the injured party
In cases when the victims and next of kin of a deceased victim are entitled to the services of a counsel for the injured party, a claim for compensation will be submitted by the counsel. In other cases, victims and next of kin with a compensation claim linked to a criminal case should submit their claim to the prosecution authority who will decide whether it should be included. If a claim for compensation is filed as part of a criminal case, the victim or next of kin can be party to that part of the case concerning the claim.
The sequence of testimony in a courtroom
In instances when a victim and next of kin are entitled to counsel for the injured party, victims will give evidence before the accused during the main hearing. The court can decide that the next of kin of a deceased victim can give their evidence before the accused. Victims and next of kin with counsel for the injured party have the right to comment on evidence given during the hearing and to make a final comment. This should be done in consultation with the counsel for the injured party.
The judgement will be sent to victims who have filed a claim for compensation. Other victims will have to contact the police or the court if they want a copy of the judgement.
Entitlement to remuneration
Victims with counsel for the injured party and next of kin are entitled to remuneration as witnesses for the full period of time they are present during the main hearing. Step-parents and siblings to the deceased are also entitled to remuneration. In special instances, companions can also receive remuneration for being present during the main hearing.
Using a private lawyer
Victims and next of kin who are not entitled by law to counsel for the injured party can be represented by a lawyer retained privately. In such instances, the lawyer will have different procedural rights during the main hearing to those of the victim and next of kin.
A judge cannot sit in cases in which he or she is the victim or next of kin in the event of a criminal act, or are closely related to the same by family, marriage, friendship or the like. The rules on qualification are laid down in sections 106 – 108 of the Courts of Justice Act (lovdata.no).