Criminal cases are heard by the courts of first instance (district courts and regional courts). You can appeal decisions of the courts of the first instance to the higher courts (decisions of district courts can be appealed to regional courts, decisions of regional courts can be appealed to the Court of Appeal of Lithuania). If you consider that decision on your appeal was not just, you can apply for a review of the judgments by the Supreme Court of Lithuania.

During the trial, cases in the courts of first instance are usually heard by one judge, however a panel of three judges can be formed in every case when the court decides it to be necessary. When a panel of judges is formed, one of the judges is designated to be the president of the panel. Appeals are to be examined by a panel of three judges in every case.

The judge (or a panel of judges) is responsible for the case management, ensuring that everything runs in an orderly and disciplined manner, that the evidence is given and the participants in the proceedings have the chance to examine it. Secondly, he or she must decide whether the defendant is guilty or not and, if found guilty, which penalty should be imposed. The judge also has to decide on the claims laid down in the civil claim. The judge is responsible for writing the judgment, reading it aloud in the courtroom on the scheduled date and explaining it to the participants in the proceedings, particularly to the defendant and to the injured party (victim).

Judges can also be involved before the trial starts. The laws establish that pre-trial investigations are led by prosecutors, but some measures which may encroach on citizens’ fundamental rights must be performed or authorized by the judge of pre-trial investigation. Judges of pre-trial investigation can also perform certain other functions, when necessary, e.g. they can lead the questioning of injured parties and witnesses (when an injured party or a witness is juvenile, or a prosecutor has some doubts that injured parties and witnesses can change their evidence submitted later).

You can also appeal decisions of prosecutors to a judge of pre-trial investigation (however decisions of a prosecutor should first be appealed to a senior prosecutor in most cases).

I was a victim of crime: consequences and reactions The rights of victims of crime Criminal proceedings Who’s who in criminal proceedings


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