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National Crime Victim Law Institute

What are Some Early Steps In the Romanian Criminal Justice Process?

October 23, 2010

In Romania an indictment officially starts the criminal case in court.  The indictment is a document summarizing the alleged criminal offenses, the charges against the defendant(s), any evidence, and statements of the victims.  It is the final document that is attached to the investigation file at the end of the investigation.  The indictment (with the entire investigation file) is sent to the court to invest the court with authority over the case.  When this entire file is sent to the court a judge for the case is chosen by an electronic system.   Once this happens, the judge’s clerk will mail summonses to any victim identified in the investigation file. 

A summons is a small piece of paper (usually the size of a postcard) that contains the victim’s name and address and informing them:

•        that they are a victim;

•        the case number of the court;

•        the next trial date;

•        that they can retain an attorney; and

•        that they have the right to read the case file in the court archive.

The summons will be written in Romanian (not English).  When a postal worker hands a victim a summons, the victim (their spouse, child over 14 years old, or other household member) can either sign it or refuse to sign it.  Signing a summons simply means that the victim is acknowledging that he or she has been informed of the next trial date and the other information identified above. 

A summons’ receipt is then returned to the court either signed or “refused”.   Once the court receives the receipt back (either signed or refused) the summons process is legally complete.  A Romanian trial will not begin until all victims have been informed in this way.

Further information on the summons process for this case will be provided in coming weeks.