A brief guide for victims of crime

If you are a victim of a crime, it is worth knowing that the Polish legal system provides for various sources of assistance available to you. Below are some of these sources:

Who is the victimized person?

An aggrieved person is considered any person whose rights have been directly violated or are threatened as a result of the actions or omissions of another person. To be considered an aggrieved party, an individual’s individual rights, such as health, bodily integrity, property, honor, good name or sexual freedom, must usually be violated. It is enough that there is a threat of such a violation, it does not necessarily have to occur. In such a case, a person is considered a victim of a crime.

A victim can also be an entity other than an individual, such as a company or public institution that has suffered damage as a result of the actions or omissions of a
another person.

If the victim is a minor, an adult must act on his behalf. According to the Civil Code, a person who has reached the age of 18 has full legal capacity and judicial capacity. Nevertheless, a minor can be represented by his legal representatives, which are usually parents or court-appointed guardians. To be considered an aggrieved party, it is not necessary to obtain a ruling from a court, the prosecutor’s office or the police. The mere fact that an individual’s rights are threatened or violated has the effect of deeming him a victim.


A crime is an act (or omission) of a human being that has been prohibited by law under penalty, declared a crime or a misdemeanor, unlawful, committed intentionally and causing more than minor social harm.

There are two situations in which an action is not treated as a crime:

Crimes can be divided into two main groups

The last group of crimes are those that are prosecuted by private prosecution. In this case, the victim himself must write and file an indictment with the court, and support the court proceedings and present evidence. However, the prosecutor may
join the proceedings if it considers it important in the public interest.
Examples include defamation, insult, violation of bodily integrity, and bodily injury of less than 7 days.

Reporting a crime

It is not always the case that the Police or Prosecutor immediately appear at the scene of a crime and make a decision to prosecute based on observation of the situation. Usually, a person who realizes that a crime has been committed must notify the services by filing what is known as a crime notice. This is a document in which you need to describe all available information about the crime (how it happened, who was involved, what damage occurred, when and where). If you do not know how to write such a notice or what address to send it to, you can go to the nearest police station and verbally submit a notice. The police are required to accept them and make a record of the acceptance.

It is worth distinguishing between a notice of a crime and a request for prosecution of a crime. The proposal applies to crimes in the second group, i.e., those that are prosecuted by the prosecutor’s office and the police only on the basis of a request from the victim. Such a request can be included in a crime notice. It is also possible to withdraw the request for prosecution (except in cases of rape, where it is not possible to withdraw the request for prosecution).

Blue card

The Blue Card is a procedure used by the Police and the Social Welfare Center to more effectively protect people who are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence can take many forms, such as:

Filling out a Blue Card does not automatically mean reporting a crime.

This card documents the situation, presents the consequences and is an important element in criminal proceedings, but is not a substitute for a criminal report or a request for prosecution.

Once the Blue Card is completed, the situation of the victim will be regularly
monitored and supervised by the police or a social worker.

Legal aid

Legal assistance includes the provision of legal advice and consultation, preparation of legal opinions, drafting of legal acts and representation before authorities and courts as an attorney or defense counsel. In Poland, it is mainly provided by legal advisors and attorneys, and in exceptional cases also by trainee legal advisors and attorneys (i.e., people who have completed law studies and are preparing for the professional exam to become legal advisors or attorneys). There is also quasi-legal assistance, provided by citizen advisors after passing a specialized exam. Their scope includes debtors’ cases, housing cases and social security (cases before Social Security). The assistance of tax consultants is available for issues related to taxation and tax proceedings.

In court proceedings, any citizen who is a party to the proceedings has the right to ask for an attorney to be appointed for him or her ex officio. Such a request can be made in writing or orally for the record at the hearing. However, a person acting only as a witness, and not as a party to the proceedings, is not in a position to make such a request, since the witness is not defending his or her interest and does not need professional assistance in this regard.

The victim of a crime, in order to be recognized by the court as a party to the proceedings, must file an application to this effect. A court-appointed attorney represents the citizen in question until the case becomes final (i.e., one that cannot be appealed). In exceptional situations, such as for health reasons, the attorney may ask the court to relieve him of this function, in which case the court will appoint another attorney.

If you don’t feel up to asking for an attorney yourself, you can use the free legal aid center. These points have existed in every county since 2015 and offer the opportunity to get support from a legal advisor or lawyer, including drafting an application to the court for the appointment of a
attorney ex officio. In addition, the point can provide information on applicable laws and possible solutions to a specific legal situation. A list of the points is available at the county offices that are responsible for running them, as well as on the websites of the courts of general jurisdiction.

Psychological and therapeutic assistance

Psychological assistance is provided only by psychologists and should be distinguished from psychotherapy. A psychologist is a person who has completed a master’s degree in psychology and can engage in counseling, which involves diagnosis, adjudication and psychological assistance. The psychologist may also suggest the need for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a process during which the patient, under the guidance of a psychotherapist, resolves problems and difficulties arising from external or internal events. A psychotherapist can be a person qualified as a psychologist, but this is not a necessary requirement. To work as a psychotherapist, it is necessary to complete 4 years of postgraduate training in one of the psychotherapeutic streams, such as psychodynamic, analytical, cognitive-behavioral or systemic.

People with symptoms of diseases and disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorder and others, often seek the services of a psychotherapist.

The goal of psychological support is to mobilize one’s own resources in a situation of psychological crisis and stress, helping the patient regain emotional balance and a sense of influence over his life. Support also includes learning to use the support of loved ones or institutions.

In Poland, the use of a psychologist is possible primarily within the public health service, where a referral to a psychologist is made by a primary care physician. In addition, there are many private offices that offer psychological and psychotherapeutic services on the market.

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