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Who is who?

Hearings in the District court in criminal cases - who are involved  and what are their functions?

The people who can be in the courtroom during a criminal trial are:

  • The aggrieved party, that is to say the victim of the crime.
  • The aggrieved party's counsel, who is an advokat (attorney) or a trained lawyer (LLM) and provides support and assistance to the crime victim and protects her or his interests.
  • The prosecutor, who works on the assignment of the State. Her or his task is to lead the preliminary investigation, decide whether a prosecution should be instituted and to bring the action at court.
  • The accused, that is to say the person suspected of the offence.
  • The defence attorney (often referred to as the public defence counsel), who assists the accused during the trial.
  • A legally qualified judge, who is also the chairperson.
  • The lay judges, usually three. Most adult Swedish nationals can be appointed as lay judges. Their task is, together with the legally qualified judge, to apply the legal rules in the case. The participation of lay judges is a guarantee that the determinations made by courts are in line with the general legal perceptions of justice.
  • The officer keeping the record, often a lawyer at the court. He or she notes what is said during the trial.
  • Witnesses, that is to say, people who, for example, saw what happened when the crime was committed and consequently come to court to explain what they know. Almost 100 000 people give testimony at court each year. People give testimony to help the court to make the right judgment, not to get at or protect someone.
  • Experts, that is to say an expert who has been called on to explain something specific. He or she may, for instance, be a physician or a psychologist.
  • An interpreter, if either of the parties does not speak Swedish. Besides interpreters to interpret a foreign language, there may also be interpretation for people at court who have visual or hearing impairments.
  • The audience. As a trial is often public, other people can also attend. Court hearings in sexual cases or where minors are parties, often take place behind closed doors (in camera). This means that only those who are directly affected may attend.

Senast ändrad: 2007-05-11