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Bulgarian Law & The Prosecutor - Making a Complaint

 

Court Procedure

In the court phase of the criminal procedure the Prosecutor supports the charges on crimes of common character. The Prosecutor represents the state/public interest and its task is to prove the charges and convince the court that the crime is indeed committed and is committed by the defendant. The Prosecutor participates in the court procedures as a party, with all rights and obligations of the parties to the proceedings (the defendant, his solicitor, the private prosecutor - the victim of the crime) - he questions the defendant and the witnesses, presents evidence, makes requests, objections, appeals the definitions of the court, pleads at the end of the court phase.

When there is a damaged person, who has suffered from the crime, this person is entitled to participate in the court procedure as a ‘private prosecutor’, thus being able to support the charges actively with the above-described means personally (ie, you can personally question the defendant, etc) or through a solicitor. In this case the ‘private prosecutor’ - victim of the crime - and the state Prosecutor have very similar roles in court - they stand on the same side in the court hall and can support each other in the course of the proceedings.

At this stage, since the charges are still subject to undoubted demonstration to their full extent, and certain new facts and evidence may be revealed, the Prosecutor may still withdraw the charges and state that it no longer supports it. Such act is not binding on the court, in fact it happens extremely rarely, even if the innocence of the defendant is obvious.

When the sentence is pronounced, if it discharges the defendant or if the court imposes a different punishment from the one pleaded by the Prosecutor, the latter may protest the sentence before a higher court.

 

Making a Complaint to the Prosecutor

The above general information will probably help those non-Bulgarians who are not acquainted with the role and the duties of the prosecutor in the Bulgarian legal system, but are sometimes referred to the Prosecutor's Office.

If you are the victim of a crime, you can call the nearest police station and ask for help and protection. Police officers, however, are not lawyers - they can easily recognise crimes like a theft, a homicide or a heavy injury and formally start an investigation, but often they will tell you that what you are complaining about is a civil matter and not a criminal one and they are not competent to start an investigation.

In this instance, if you are sure a crime has been committed, you can complain directly to the Prosecutor.

For example you have paid for repair works on your house, but the worker took your money, did nothing and disappeared. What transforms a simple breach of contract into an act of fraud, is the intent of the worker. Proving his intent is more legal than operative investigation work and in this case, filing your complaint before the Prosecutor instead of the police would be more efficient. The Prosecutor will give mandatory instructions to the police authorities on the actions necessary to reveal whether the worker is an unreliable contractor or a criminal.

You may also file a complaint with the Prosecutor and request that the Prosecutor takes no immediate action. For instance in the case of a persistently drunken, noisy neighbour; where you have complained to the police and they have visited the neighbour on several occasions, yet the neighbour has persisted in his behaviour. However, perhaps after the last police visit, the neighbour has quietened. You may visit the Prosecutor and in effect 'open a file' with your complaint in order that everything is in writing and evidenced, so that if the neighbour starts his bad behaviour again, you have all the documentation ready with the Prosecutor's Office for them to act.

If you take a complaint before the Prosecutor, write your complaint in your own language and get it translated into Bulgarian by a registered translator and get the document notarised.

 

Roumen V. Petrov
Asya Mandjukova
GPNG Law Firm

www.gpng-law.org