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Prokuratura Okręgowa w Warszawie

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A victim of an offence, formally called a wronged person, is a natural or legal person whose legal interest has been directly violated or threatened by an offence. This means that for a person to be considered a victim his or her individual interest protected by the law must be violated. Such interests include, for example, health, freedom, bodily integrity, security in transportation, dignity or property. A victim can also be a state, self government or welfare institution, even if it does not have a status of a legal person.

An insurance company can also be considered a victim in the scope in which it paid indemnity to the victim of an offence or is obliged to pay. If the victim is a minor or a person partially or totally incapacitated, his or her rights are executed by his or her statutory representative (mother or father) or the person having permanent custody of the victim. When the victim is a person unable to take proper care of himself (a sick person or a person of advanced age), especially because of his or her age or health condition, his or her rights can be executed by the person taking care of such person. In the event of the victim’s death, the rights enjoyed by him or her can be exercised by his closest relatives and, if there are not any or they are unknown, by a prosecutor acting ex officio.

In respect of the victim’s role in initiating penal proceedings, we distinguish the following types of offences:

  • Offences prosecuted ex officio (public prosecution),
  • Offences prosecuted ex officio on the motion of a victim,
  • Offences prosecuted upon private accusation, that is as a result of a victim’s complaint brought directly to court.


According to the legalism principle, offences are prosecuted ex officio and irrespective of a victim’s will. In such cases public prosecutor acts in the public interest.

In the case of the offences prosecuted on a victim’s motion, once the motion for prosecuting has been filed, proceedings take place ex officio. The motion can be withdrawn during preparatory proceedings with the prosecutor’s consent, and during court proceedings – with the court consent (rape being an exception). Filing the motion again is unacceptable.

As to the offences prosecuted upon private accusation, their distinctive feature is that they violate the public interest only indirectly, whereas they violate the victim’s interest directly. An example can be slander. What is also characteristic is that the degree of damage to society is lower.

» Learn the basic rights and obligations of a victim


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