Who’s who in the proceedings

Professional judges – legal professionals who perform judicial duties as their main, and typically the only, profession, and receive their salary for it 

Lay judges – laypersons, citizens who are, aside from their regular profession, only temporarily asked to perform judicial duty as part of a judicial panel under the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA)

Composition of the court – an individual judge or a judicial panel can be in charge of trial in specific criminal proceedings. A judicial panel may comprise professional judges (one or more) and lay judges. A judicial panel always has an odd number of members. The chair of the panel of judges presides over the main hearing. 

Parties – prosecutor and defendant 

Prosecutor – authorised to initiate criminal proceedings and prosecution of offenders. The prosecutor holds that there is evidence of a person’s offence and asks the court to impose a sanction (penalty or other measure) on the offender under substantive criminal law. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor, which means that they have to present and prove decisive facts i.e. propose evidence for the facts. The prosecutor in a criminal proceeding can be: a state attorney, a private prosecutor and the injured party as prosecutor (subsidiary prosecutor). 

State attorney – authorised prosecutor for the criminal offences prosecuted ex officio (i.e. the state must prosecute those suspected of violating its laws). A vast majority of criminal offences in our criminal legislation fall into this category.  The state attorney’s offices are not part of the judiciary. They are independent and autonomous bodies. There are county state attorney’s offices and municipal state attorney’s offices. All of them are headed by the State Attorney General and his/her deputies (state attorneys). State attorneys are responsible for initiating and conducting investigations and the burden of proof in criminal proceedings is on them, which means that they have to present and prove facts i.e. propose evidence. 

Injured party – a natural person or legal entity whose personal or property rights have been infringed on or endangered by a criminal offence, and who participates in criminal proceedings as an injured party. A right of the injured party can be infringed (infringement of the right occurred) or just endangered (there was a real danger of infringement). The injured party can also act as a witness. A prosecutor can also be the injured party, in cases where the state attorney has withdrawn from prosecution. The injured party can also have a legal representative. 

Suspect – a person against whom a criminal complaint has been filed, inquiries are in progress or an urgent evidentiary action has been undertaken

The accused – a person against whom an investigation order has been issued, a private action brought, or a summary penal order issued by a judgement.

Defendant – a person against whom an indictment has been confirmed or a hearing scheduled in a private action

Convict – a person found guilty of a criminal offence by a final and binding judgement

Defence attorney – a professional helping the accused during preparation and drafting of defence in criminal proceedings. The defence attorney's task is to undertake actions for the benefit of the accused and to protect their rights and interests. Only a lawyer can act as a defence attorney, but in cases stipulated by the law they can be replaced a trainee lawyer who has passed the bar exam. The accused pays for the attorney's services, but can get a court-appointed defence attorney if they are unable to pay for one. There are also cases of obligatory appointment of a defence attorney (if the accused is deaf, blind or incapable of defending themselves, is in detention or is accused of a crime for which a penalty of 8 or more years in prison is envisaged, if they are tried in absentia – in such cases, a court appoints a defence attorney if the accused omits to do so) When the requirements for obligatory defence are not met, the accused may be appointed a defence attorney if this is justified by the special circumstances of the case and their financial situation makes them unable to cover the cost of defence. 

Expert – a person who possesses professional know-how necessary to ascertain or assess an important fact, e.g. a transport expert, a psychiatrist

Witness – a person called to a state attorney's office or court for questioning because they are likely to provide information on a criminal offence, perpetrator and other important circumstances. Any person called as a witness is obligated to appear for questioning. If a witness fails to appear, they will be summoned once again, and if they fail to appear again, that they can be brought in by the police or fined in the amount of HRK 50,000 (this warning is also stated in the summons). 

Victim of a crime a natural person who has suffered physical and emotional consequences, property damage or a violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms as a direct consequence of the criminal offence. A victim of a criminal offence is also a marital or extramarital partner, registered life partner (same-sex) or informal life partner and offspring, and if there are none, an ancestor, brother or sister of the person whose death was directly caused by the criminal offence, or a person the deceased was legally obligated to support. 
Legal representative of the victim/injured party – an attorney helping the victim/injured party to protect their rights in criminal and misdemeanour proceedings. 
Person of trust – a legal representative or other person with full legal capacity whom a victim can choose to be accompanied by during the criminal proceedings. A person who will be a witness in the criminal proceedings cannot act as a person of trust.