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right to compensation
 

It is only fair that anyone who suffers losses as a result of a crime should be compensated for such losses.
The duty to compensate falls to the offender but, in some cases, the State may advance this compensation when the victim is facing financial difficulties as a result of the crime and it is impossible to obtain compensation from the offender within a reasonable period.

APAV
can help you exercise this right.

 

 
     
 
 
Compensation from the offender

Victims are entitled to be compensated by the offender for the material damage and moral distress which he/she caused to them.

As a rule, compensation should be claimed within the criminal proceedings. Victims should therefore inform either the police or the Public Prosecution Service by the end of the inquiry stage that they wish to file a claim for compensation. They can do this, for example, when they go to give a statement. Later, when the victim receives the notice with the charge against the defendant, they will have a time limit of 20 days in which to file the claim.

If the claim is for more than €5,000, it should be filed by a lawyer representing the victim. If it is equal to or less than €5,000, the victim may file it.


The civil compensation claim does not have to be in any particular form:
it should simply contain a brief description of the facts on which the application is based and state the damage and its value:

  • Material damage, comprising:
    • damage caused directly by the crime, for example, hospital treatment costs, cost of medicines, travel to medical appointments, damaged clothing, etc.
    • and the benefits the victim lost because of the crime, for example, salaries that the victim didn’t receive because he/she was unable to work.
  • Moral (or non-material) damage
    • losses which cannot be assessed financially, since they concern the health, well-being, honour and reputation of the victim; these can only be compensated by obliging the offender to pay a certain sum to the victim. Moral damage includes, for example, physical pain, psychological distress, emotional suffering, loss of prestige and damage to reputation, etc.

Along with the claim for compensation, victims should enclose or mention any supporting evidence, such as hospital bills, and people who were at their side during the period of greatest suffering and who know what they went through, etc.
Whenever there is a claim for compensation, the decision on this claim is included in the judgment.
Even if no compensation claim is filed, the judge, on his/her own initiative and taking into account the victim's situation, may order the offender to pay the victim a certain amount in compensation for damage, unless the victim does not agree to this.

If an individual is ordered to pay compensation and doesn’t do so voluntarily, the victim will have to file an enforcement order (ação executiva) against the offender. This means that the victim applies to the court to order the seizure of his/her assets (bank accounts, properties, vehicles or other assets) to guarantee payment of the compensation.



 
     
     
 
Compensation from the Portuguese State
... to victims of violent crimes

Protection for victims of violent crimes includes the payment of compensation from the State, when the offender is unable to pay and the disruption caused to the quality of life and standard of living of the victim has been considerable.

Those entitled to this compensation are:

  • victims of grievous bodily harm (i.e., causing permanent disability, total temporary incapacity for work for at least 30 days, or death) caused directly by acts of violence;
  • those who have a legal right to maintenance if the victim dies - for example, their children and anyone cohabiting with the victim;
  • those who helped the victim or cooperated with the authorities in preventing the crime or finding and arresting the offender for any damage caused as a result.


In cases of sexual crimes, the 30-day requirement of permanent incapacity or total temporary incapacity for work for claiming compensation does not apply. While this type of crime does not, as a rule, cause an incapacity for work of at least 30 days, this exception is justified by the seriousness of the crime.

The compensation claim may be filed up to a year after the date of the crime or, if criminal proceedings take place, up to a year after the final decision. A victim who is under-age at the time of the crime can claim for compensation up to a year after reaching the age of 18 or of emancipation.

The application should be made using the form available from the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime, the APAV Victim Support Offices and the Internet and sent to the Commission.

This application does not carry any fees or charges for the victim and all the necessary documents and certificates for filing the claim can be obtained free of charge.

If the crime was committed in another European Union Member State, the claim for compensation from that Member State can be filed with the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime as long as the person applying for compensation is resident in Portugal.



... to victims of domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence are entitled to receive cash benefits from the State whenever, as a consequence of the crime of domestic violence, they find themselves in a situation of serious financial hardship.

The claim should be sent to the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime using the form available from the Commission, the APAV Victim Support Offices and the Internet.
The victim should send a copy of the complaint or of the police report. The claim must be filed within 1 year of the date of the crime.

The amount of the monthly benefits cannot exceed the national minimum salary.
These benefits are provided for a period of three months and may be extended for another three months. In situations of particular need, they may be extended for another six months, up to an exceptional maximum of 12 months.

If the victim is in serious financial hardship, compensation may be paid, on an exceptional basis, in a lump-sum payment.