Czech Republic Criminal Justice System

Czech Republic Criminal Justice System

This entry gives a general account of the overall criminal system and outline the political and legal structure and the history of the Czech Republic criminal justice system to help account for the unique aspects that may help to bind the many parts of this criminal justice system together, and to show the extent to how this criminal justice system plays in the overall social control of Czech Republic. The section on crime definitions and statistic provides some basis of “output” of the criminal justice bureaucracies of the country.


1. Political System.
The Czech Republic is a sovereign, united and
democratic, law-and-order state based on respect
for the rights and liberties of citizens. The
citizens provide the source of all state power
through the mediation of legislative bodies of
power, executive power, and judicial power. The
political system is based on free competition of
political parties that respect fundamental
democratic principles and reject violence as the
means for assertion of their interests. Political
decisions originate from the will of the majority
which is expressed by a free vote. The decisions
of the majority also show concern and protection
for those in the minority.
The self-government of territorial autonomous
regions is guaranteed. The Czech Republic is
divided into municipalities which are the
principal autonomous units. The higher
territorial autonomous parts are represented by
regions in accordance with the Constitution. The
territorial autonomous units are territorial
communities of citizens who have the right of
self-government. The law that would define
specific autonomous powers of these territorial
units has not yet been issued.
Law No. 436/1991 issued by the Czech National
Council deals with districts and court
administration. The law states that the execution
of administrative power in the Czech Republic
cannot interfere with the independence of the
courts. The central body of the state
administration is the Ministry of Justice.
Representatives of the state authorities include
the president and vice-president of the Supreme
Court, and the presidents and vice-presidents of
the Courts of Appeal and various district courts.
Higher and lower district courts are
administered by the Ministry of Justice, either
directly or through the court presidents. Lower
district courts can be administered by presidents
of higher district courts. The administration of
the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal by the
Ministry of Justice is accomplished through the
mediation of the presidents of these courts.
Presidents of the Supreme Court, the Court of
Appeal, and of the higher and lower district
courts have ultimate responsibility over court
administration, although they can give the judge
of a corresponding court responsibility for
individual acts of state administration.

2. Legal System.
The Czech Republic legal system is similar to
that of continental Europe, characterized by using
written, generally recognized normative acts
issued by legislative or executive bodies.
Customs and rules of citizens’ coexistence are
taken into account only cases where the rule
invokes them explicitly. Customs are not
considered to be the source of rights in the
legal system. Similarly, neither the decisions of
the court nor the scientific literature have the
weight of the legal source, even though, as a
result of their persuasiveness, they may exert a
strong influence on lawyers’ decisions. This is
true especially in cases where the decisions of
the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic are not
binding on the lower courts. On the other hand,
they significantly contribute to stabilization of
the judicature and to unification of
interpretation of precepts of law.
The most important source of the law in the
Czech Republic is the Constitution of the Czech
Republic. The first article states that the
Charter of Human Rights and Liberties constitutes
a part of the constitutional system. Article 10
of the Constitution declares the international
treaties concerning human rights and basic
liberties that have been ratified and promulgated
as generally binding in the territory of the Czech
Republic. These treaties have been declared as
superior to the laws.
Another group of legal norms is represented
by the generally-binding directives of the bodies
of executive power. The decrees of the government
are issued on the basis of laws and within their
limits. These precepts of law are binding for
ministries, other administrative authorities and
the bodies of local autonomy.
The Constitution of the Czech Republic
requires that during the time that the House of
Deputies is dissolved, the Senate can, by
government proposal, pass legal measures
concerning issues that cannot be postponed or
issues that under different circumstances, would
normally require a law to be passed. This
lawmaking power is not applicable to the
Constitution, state budget, state end-of-term
account, electoral law, and international
treaties, under Article 10 of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court oversees whether
laws conform to the Constitution. The Court makes
decisions concerning the abolition of entire laws
or individual provisions. They must decide if the
law and/or its provisions are in accordance with
the constitutional law or an international treaty
according to Article 10 of the Constitution. They
also decide on the abolition of other sections and
The Constitutional Court begins its review
process following a proposal of the subjects
covered by its jurisdiction. A proposal for the
abolition of a law or its individual provisions
can also be brought by a court; such a case
requires that the lower court had reached a
conclusion that the law used to find a solution
for a problem was not constitutional. If the
Constitutional Court finds that a discordance does
exist between the law in question or its
individual provisions and the Constitutional Law
or an international treaty, under Article 10 of
the Constitution, it can make a decision that such
a law or its provisions be abolished. Their
decision would have effect from the date mentioned
in their findings.

3. History of the Criminal Justice System.
Established on October 28, 1918,
Czechoslovakia inherited two codes, the Austrian
Penal Code of 1852 in Bohemia and Moravia and the
Hungarian Penal Code of 1878 in Slovakia and
Transcarpathian Ukraine. These codes were
incorporated into the Czechoslovak rule of law by
the law no.11/1918, which established the
independent Czechoslovak state. The new state
thus received an obsolete but liberal criminal law
code adequate to a law-and-order state of a
standard that was usual in Central Europe. It was
not until the Second World War that a new criminal
law code was created, although three drafts had
been submitted in the years 1921, 1926 and 1937.
After the communist take-over in February of
1948, the Czechoslovak criminal law was adapted to
conform with the criminal law used in the Soviet
Union, a trend which continued throughout the
period that Czechoslovakia was under communist
rule. The Penal Code of 1950 was the first to
have effect for the state as a whole, and included
all material law. The Code was used to repress
political opposition from people of varying
political and moral viewpoints and practicing
faiths. The law was also used to suppress
individual expressions of disobedience. The
criminal law was used to support political and
economic reforms. For instance, the Penal Code of
1950 had sections on the collectivization of
agriculture. (Sect. 135,136).
After sharp criticism concerning the misuse
of the criminal law during the Stalinist period,
an amendment of the Penal Code was passed in
Czechoslovakia on December 19, 1956, which
introduced moderation. However, the existing
system with its politically repressive ideology
was not changed. (Khrustshev, 1956).
The Penal Code of November 29, 1961 passed in
connection with the “Principles of penal
legislation of the USSR and the Union’s republics”
of December 26, 1958 and the new Russian Soviet
Federative Socialist Republic Penal Code of
October 27, 1960 had some features of modern legal
thinking. After the Prague uprising of 1968 was
suppressed, the situation worsened significantly.
During the “normalization” period, the criminal
law was enlarged to include a number of new
offenses. Actions such as participating in
breaking the peace and the refusal to obey labor
conscription were made criminal under the law.
The repressive elements of prison sentences were
reinforced and “preventative surveillance”,
essentially a type of police surveillance, was
After November of 1989, an urgent need for
elaboration of a new penal law appeared that would
conform to the principles of a liberal and humane
law-and-order state. As early as December 1989,
law no. 159/1989 abolished the regulations that
clearly violated human rights, such as those
concerning emigration, and those used to suppress
the influence of the church. The substantial
amendment of the Penal Code that was put into
effect on May 2, 1990 essentially changed old
rules, decriminalized many actions, and removed
ideological influences from the legal system.
Other amendments of the criminal law and of
the code of criminal procedure passed in 1991
brought the two bodies of law into concordance
with the Charter of Human Rights and Liberties and
with international agreements by which the Czech
Republic was bound. The amendments modify
terminology and improve previous shortcomings.
Changes brought by the 1993 amendment of the
Criminal Law and Code of Criminal Procedure were
put into effect on January 1, 1994. Regarding
material law, some concepts were newly defined.
The existing procedure for the execution of
custodial sentence was abolished. Rules linked
with new forms of criminality mostly related to
the development of business activities. The
amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure should
simplify and accelerate proceedings and introduce
higher efficiency into the legal process.
Legislative developments toward the change of
criminal law have not yet been completed at this


1. Classification of Crime.

* Legal classification. Aside from the definition
of a criminal offense, issues of criminal law also
include the qualification of criminal offenses and
their incorporation into certain categories based
on the danger these offenses present to society,
as well as the distinction between criminal
offenses and violations which occur in other
branches of the law. By distinguishing among
categories of individual acts, most serious anti-
social acts which are decided in court can be
singled out from other acts where means of social
control other than those of criminal law apply.
The classification of punishable offenses can
be traced to the Austrian Criminal Code of 1852,
which was valid in the territory of Bohemia,
Moravia and Silessia, constituting the present
Czech Republic. The Code distinguished 3
categories of punishable offenses: felony
(zlodin), misdemeanor (precin) and petty offence
(prestupek). These categories classified crimes
based on their seriousness.
The Criminal Law Act of 1950 abolished the
existing classification system and introduced a
single term for a criminal offense. In 1961, Act
No. 38/1961 (Coll.) established local people’s
courts and introduced a new category of offenses
called wrongdoings (provineni). The danger these
offenses posed to society did not reach the degree
necessary to classify the act as a criminal
offense. A new category of a punishable offense,
misdemeanors, (preciny) was introduced by the
Misdemeanors Act that came into effect in 1970.
Simultaneously, the category of “wrongdoings” and
local people’s courts were abolished.
The amendment to the Criminal Law Act of 1961
effected by the Act No. 175/1990 Coll. abolished
the Misdemeanors Act, essentially abolishing the
offense category of misdemeanor. The Czech
criminal law in force recognizes a single category
of punishable offence, referred to as a criminal
offense in the Criminal Law Act.
A special part of the Criminal Law Act
describes all types of criminal offenses and their
characteristics. Codification of this special
part dates from 1961 and is divided into 12
sections. Under this system, criminal acts fall
into three large categories: criminal acts against
the public interest (Sections 1 to 3), criminal
acts against an individual (Sections 7 to 9), and
military criminal acts (Section 12). The
sections deal with the relationships among these
The provision of Section 8, subsection 2 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates a
prosecution principle that a court may institute a
criminal prosecution only if an indictment was
brought by the prosecutor. There are no criminal
offenses in the law that are subject to private
Under an amendment to the Code of Criminal
Procedure of 1990, (Sect.1, Subsection 163a) a
range of criminal acts were defined in which
prosecution is subject to the consent of the
aggrieved party. Prior to this amendment, all
crimes had been prosecuted ex-officio,
disregarding the views of the aggrieved party.
The Czech National Council’s Act on Summary
Offenses No. 200/1990 (Sect.1, subsect. 2), as
amended by subsequent regulations, defines a
summary offense as a culpable act with other
elements herein, which is not an administrative
offense punishable under special legal regulations
or an indictable offense. The difference between
indictable offenses and summary offenses lies
mainly in their degree of threat to society.
Summary offenses are decided by competent
administrative bodies. Only in the most serious
cases, according to special regulations, are
summary offense decisions reviewable in court.
Within the general part of the Criminal Law
Act we should point out the provision of Section
13, subsection 89 which has been incorporated into
the Criminal Law Act by an amendment of 1990. The
provision defines a new term of “addictive
substances” in a way which involves alcohol,
drugs, psychotropic substances and other
substances which may impair the human mind, a
person’s self-control and perception and social
behavior. It includes all kinds of alcoholic and
non-alcoholic drugs, ranging from traditional
drugs to the substances designated for technical
use. The newly introduced term “addictive
substance” in the Criminal Law Act is also
reflected in other provisions relating to insanity
and diminished sanity.

* Age of criminal responsibility. The provision
of Sect. 11 of the Criminal Law Act stipulates
that a person who commits a criminal act before
his 15th birthday shall not be held criminally
responsible. Persons between the ages of 15 and
18 when they commit a criminal offense are defined
in the criminal law act as “juveniles”. Criminal
responsibility, as well as the prosecution of such
persons, is governed by special regulations which
are in chapter 7 of a general part of the Criminal
Code and chapter 19 of the Code of criminal
procedure, for proceedings against a juvenile.

* Drug offenses. The special part of the Criminal
Law Act lists criminal acts related to drugs and
psychotropic substances among the criminal acts
that are dangerous to the public. Under the
provisions of Sections 187 and 188 of the Criminal
Law Act, it is a crime to illegally produce or
possess drugs and psychotropic substances and
poisons. Under provision 187 of the Criminal Law
Act, the person who without permission produces,
imports, exports, transports, supplies to another
person, or keeps for another person drugs,
psychotropic substance or poison is to be
punished. However, the use or the procurement of
these substances and keeping them for one’s own
personal use is not punishable.
Under the provisions of Section 188 of the
Criminal Law Act, producing, supplying or keeping
substances for unlawful production of a drug or
psychotropic substance or poison is also
punishable. The provision affects cases which
have the nature of preparation for a criminal act
under the provision of Section 187 of the Criminal
Law Act.
An amendment to the Criminal Law Act of 1990
under section 188 includes a new provision against
“disseminating drug addiction” under Section 188
of the Criminal Law Act. This occurs when an
offender incites another person to abuse addictive
substances other than alcohol, supports him or her
in doing so, or otherwise incites or disseminates
the abuse of such substances.
The crime of exposing others to danger under
the influence of an addictive substance is covered
under Section 201 of the Criminal Law Act. This
section includes cases where an offender under the
influence of an addictive substance works or
engages in activities which may endanger the life
or health of others or cause considerable damage
to property, under strictly defined conditions.
These conditions include the presence of a
previous sentence or punishment for the same or
similar criminal act, increasing the exposure to
danger or causing harmful consequence.
Acts which may not be included under the
provisions of the Criminal Law Act, mainly for the
lack of material substance, are punishable under
the Summary Offenses Act No. 200/1990 Coll., as
amended by subsequent regulations. Summary
offenses relating to health care (Sect.1, subsect.
29g) and the protection against alcoholism and
other drug addictions (Sect.1,
subsect.30a,b,c,e,f,g,h) are included.
Under provision of Section 195 of the
Criminal Law Act, the government defines by an
order what it regards as drugs, psychotropic
substances and poisons within the meaning of
Sections 187 and 188 of the Criminal Law Act. The
appropriate legal rule is the Government Order No.
192/1988 Coll. (Government Decrees No. 182/1990,
33/1992 and 278/1993 Coll.), which lists these
substances in an appendix. Substances regarded as
drugs include cocaine, morphine, opium, and
heroin. Psychotropic substances include
amphetamine, ephedrine, and neprobamate.

2. Crime Statistics.
Criminal statistics are derived from the
authorities responsible for criminal proceedings.
Basic data concerning crimes and offenses,
prosecutions, tried and sentenced persons,
respective sentences and sentence execution can be
found in the statistics of police, prosecutor’s
offices, courts and prisons.
All definitions of criminal offenses included
in the criminal justice annual books issued by the
police, prosecutor’s offices, and prison service
are based on the valid criminal law and its
itemization. In contrast to other authorities,
the police use their own administrative terms to
specify individual types of criminality. They
classify various types of criminality as follows:
general, violent, morality-linked, property-linked
(for example, theft, burglary), business-linked,
and other types.
There are two sources of police statistics.
The criminal offense form and the “known offender”
form contain all data used to prepare the
statistics. The prosecutor’s and court statistics
are based on similar documents called “criminal
statistic” forms. Prison statistics are based on
simple forms of their own which collect essential
The principal source of information on
criminality for the government, parliament, press,
etc. are the police statistics, which are
presented to the state authorities and
institutions through the Ministry of Interior.
These statistics include both completed and
attempted crimes, particularly in the cases of
murder and rape.

* Murder. In 1993, the police statistics
registered 278 murders, including 83 attempted

* Rape. Information not obtained.

* Theft. In 1993, the police statisticsregistered 179,897 thefts.

* Serious drug offense. Presently, the number of
drug abuse related crimes are not presented
separately in police statistics.

* Crime regions. The level of criminality is
observed in individual regions at police
collection sites. The data obtained from these
sites are transferred to the center where they are
statistically evaluated. Tables are prepared in
which the crimes are classified according to the
code. The data is then summarized and categorized
by districts. There are 75 regions and 10
districts in Prague. The data are sometimes
categorized according to the formerly used larger
regions that divided the territory of the Czech
Republic into 7 parts. On the basis of these
data, the rates of crime for each region are
compared with other regions.
Presently, the capital of Prague has the
highest number of crimes in the country. Crime is
concentrated particularly in the center of Prague,
followed by other capital districts, industrial
regions with migrating inhabitants like North
Moravia (including the town of Ostrava), and North
Bohemia lagging significantly behind. Property
crimes such as theft, burglary, and car theft are
prevalent in Prague, in addition to robbery and
murder. Many of these offenses, including those
of organized crime, are targeted at foreigners and
foreign tourists.
Property crimes are also high in the regions
of North Moravia and North Bohemia. These regions
also have higher incidents of burglary, robbery,
malicious assault, and bodily harm than other
regions. The lowest crime rate exists in South
Bohemia. This region has the lowest population
density in Bohemia, little industry and a
relatively non-migrating population.


1. Groups Most Victimized by Crime.
There is no separate collection of
statistical data concerning victims of crime.
Victim information is included in the record of a
criminal incident. The sex and number of persons
involved in the crime are recorded, as well as
information on how the crime was committed and the
economic status of the injured party.

Victims’ Assistance Agencies.
A non-governmental organization, the White
Circle of Safety (Bily kruh bezpeei) provides
assistance to victims of crime. No state funds
are available for victim compensation. Crisis
centers mainly provide psychological help to women
who have been raped. A victim of crime may also
seek help from out-patient psychiatric services.

3. Role of Victim in Prosecution and Sentencing.
Under Czech criminal procedure, an injured
party is a person who suffered property loss or
bodily harm, or who suffered moral or other
injury. This person is a party to any ensuing
criminal proceedings, and can make suggestions to
help establish objective facts in reaching an
appropriate decision. Status as injured party
does not prevent the victim from giving evidence
as a witness. Two groups of injured parties are
distinguished: an injured person who may claim
damages and an injured person who does not have
the right to claim damages.
The Code of Criminal Procedure does not
entitle the injured party to bring in an
indictment, to take over prosecution or influence
the question of punishment. The injured party may
institute prosecution by lodging a complaint. The
1990 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure
requires that for certain crimes consent of the
injured party is as a prerequisite for
prosecution. The right of dismissal applies to
all criminal proceedings up to the point of
appellate proceedings. Legal regulations in force
before the amendment provided that all crimes
would be prosecuted ex-officio, disregarding the
opinion of the injured party. This amendment is a
breakthrough for the principle of legality.
The injured party is entitled to inspect
records, submit petitions regarding verification
of evidence and take part in a trial and public
session concerning an appeal. Before the end of
proceedings, the injured party is entitled to make
a statement (entitled to the last word). Injured
persons who can claim damages from the defendant
are entitled to suggest to the court that it
impose on the defendant an obligation to
compensate any loss resulting from the crime. In
criminal proceedings, the court only decides on
property damage claims, that is, claims which can
be expressed in monetary terms. Discussions on
claims for compensation in “adhesive proceedings”
are held as part of the regular court proceedings,
not in an independent formal part of the
If the defendant is acquitted by the court,
the court refers the injured party with his claim
for compensation to civil proceedings, or to a
proceeding before another competent body. If the
court finds the defendant guilty, it can grant a
claim for compensation, refer the injured party
with the whole claim to civil proceedings, or to
proceedings before another competent body, or
grant the claim only in part, and refer the
injured party with the rest of the claim to civil
proceedings, or to proceedings before another
competent body.

4. Victims’ Rights Legislation.
Information not obtained.


1. Administration.
The police are subordinate to the Ministry of
Interior. The police consist of the Police
Presidium of the Czech Republic, sections
operating in the whole territory, and sections
whose operations are confined to limited regions.
Police sections are established by the Minister as
proposed by the Police President. There are
several police departments: regular police,
criminal police, traffic police, safeguard
service, Department for Investigation of
Corruption and Business-linked Criminality, Aliens
Office and frontier police, swift action squad,
and railway and airport police.
The Police Presidium directs the police, and
is headed by the Police President, who supervises
all police officers except those working at the
Ministry of Interior or in investigation sections
established and directed by the Ministry of
Interior. These investigators are appointed by
the Minister.
The Police President is appointed and subject
to recall by the Minister of Interior with input
from the government of the Czech Republic. The
directors who are appointed and recalled by the
Police President serve as heads of the above-
mentioned departments.
Local public order affairs are within the
competence of the local police. Work of the local
police in towns and the capital of Prague is
conducted by the corresponding municipal police.
The municipal police cooperate with the Police of
the Czech Republic; their mutual relations are
specified by regulations issued by the government.
In particular, municipal police enforce laws and
regulations, protect persons and property,
maintain order, investigate and penalize small
offenses, and try to prevent crime.
In general, the police have the following
duties: ensuring the protection of persons and
property, helping to keep the peace, fighting
terrorism, investigating crimes, convicting
offenders, directing traffic, and performing
administrative duties.

2. Resources.

* Expenditures. Information not obtained.

* Number of police. As of January 1, 1994, the
total number of police officers was 56,000.

3. Technology.

* Availability of police automobiles. Information
not obtained.

* Electronic equipment. Information not

* Weapons. Information not obtained.

4. Training and Qualifications. Information not

5. Discretion.

* Use of force. A policeman is authorized to use
a weapon in the following cases: a) to avert
imminent or continuing attack against himself or
another person, b) when the offender does not
surrender when ordered to or refuses to leave his
shelter, c) to overcome an offender who is
hampering an officer in the performance of his
duty, d) to prevent the offender’s flight, e) when
necessary to stop a vehicle whose driver is
endangering life (reckless driving).
Before using a weapon, the policeman is
obliged to persuade the wrongdoer to stop the
illicit action. If a person’s life and health are
threatened, he may take measures without trying to
persuade the offender.
Coercive means used by policemen are: grasps,
clutches, blows, self-defense kicks, tear gas,
truncheon, handcuffs, police dog, pushing by using
a horse(s), technical means to prevent departure
of a vehicle, stopping strip, water gun, striking
with a gun, threats of firing a gun, and warning
The police are authorized to use the
following weapons: firearms, stabbing weapons,
cutting weapons, special kinds of weapons like a
sniper’s rifle, shot-guns, pistols with a
silencer, weapons with target lighting, mechanical
firearms, specially adapted firearms, explosives,
and special explosive objects.

* Stop/apprehend a suspect. The police are
authorized to bring into custody persons caught
committing a crime, and to hold suspects long
enough to carry out necessary operations.
Suspects cannot be held longer than 24 hours.
A policeman is authorized to put in custody a
person who endangers the property, life, or health
of other persons, a person who attempts to escape
custody, a person who damages police property, a
person caught committing an offense, a person who
is suspected of preparing for, attempting, or
committing an offense.
A person who physically attacks another
person or a policeman can be confined by shackling
to a suitable object. Restriction of movement can
be imposed only until the person stops his or her
wrongdoing or is placed in a police cell and
cannot exceed 2 hours.

* Decision to arrest. If a reason for detention
exists and the accused person cannot be summoned,
brought in, or detained to be present for the
examination, the judge will draw up a warrant for
the accused person’s arrest. This decision to
issue a warrant is based on the direction of the
prosecutor in the preparatory procedure or the
tribunal chief justice in the procedure before the
court. The police carry out the obligations of
the arrest warrant, which may require finding the
residence of the accused. The arresting officers
are required to bring the accused before the court
within 24 hours.
If a reason exists for putting an offender
into custody, but due to the urgency of the
situation, an arrest warrant cannot be obtained,
the investigator can provisionally put the accused
person in custody. After 24 hours, the accused
person must be set free, unless the prosecutor
issues an arrest warrant.

* Search and seizure. When ensuring the security
of safeguarded persons, the police are authorized
to search and frisk. In order to carry out a
search in houses and buildings, a policeman must
obtain the owners’ or users’ consent. Such a
search must be aimed only at ensuring the security
of a safeguarded person. A policeman is
authorized to enter any rooms accessible to the
customers in a place of business in order to do
his work. If it is feared that the life or health
of a person is threatened or property can be
damaged, the policeman is authorized to open a
flat or any other closed room to take measures to
foil the imminent danger.

* Confessions. A confession of the accused person
does not exempt the authorities active in criminal
proceedings from the obligation to investigate all
circumstances of the case. It is forbidden for
the accused person to be coerced into giving
testimony or making a confession.

6. Accountability.
The inspection agency of the Ministry of
Interior, with the Minister himself being in
charge, evaluates complaints against policemen and
investigates offenses committed by them.


1. Rights of the Accused.

* Rights of the accused. All bodies in charge of
criminal proceedings are bound to always inform
the accused of his rights and provide him with a
possibility to enforce those rights. A basic
principle of criminal proceedings is that a person
may not and shall not be prosecuted as a defendant
on other than statutory grounds and in a manner
stipulated by the Code of criminal procedure.
The defendant is entitled to state his
opinion in respect of all facts with which he is
charged and in respect of the evidence related to
these facts, but is not obliged to give evidence.
The defendant may state circumstances and evidence
for his or her defense, make suggestions and
submit petitions and legal remedies, is entitled
to choose his advocate, to ask for an appointment
to consult the advocate in the course of criminal
proceedings. However, during his or her
examination he may not consult his advocate to
find out how to answer a question which he had
been asked.
The defendant may ask to be examined in the
presence of the advocate, and demand such
presence in other acts of preliminary proceedings.

If he is in custody or imprisoned, the defendant
may consult the advocate without the presence of a
third party. In case that the accused did not use
his right to choose an advocate, direct relatives,
brothers or sisters, adoptive parents, adoptive
children, spouse or a common law spouse may choose
the advocate on his or her behalf.
The accused must have an advocate (a legal
adviser) in preliminary proceedings, if he is in
custody, in prison or under assessment in a
medical institution, if he has been deprived of
the capacity to perform legal acts or if his
capacity to perform legal acts has been
restricted, if the proceedings are conducted
against a juvenile or a fugitive. The accused
shall also have an advocate if the court, and in
preliminary proceedings the investigator or the
prosecutor, regard it as necessary, considering
physical or mental disorders of the accused or if
they doubt the capability of the accused to defend
If the proceedings concern a criminal offence
for which the law prescribes the penalty of
imprisonment with an upper limit exceeding 5
years, the accused must also have an advocate in
preliminary proceedings. The accused shall also
have an advocate in extradition proceedings and in
proceedings which decide on the imposition of a
protective anti-alcoholic treatment.
If the accused does not have an advocate in
cases when he is bound to have an advocate, he
shall be given a time-limit to choose one. Should
the advocate not be chosen within the time-limit,
an advocate shall be appointed for the accused
without any delay, for the time period where
defense is necessary. Should there be several
accused persons, a common advocate shall be
usually appointed for them, provided that their
interests in the criminal proceedings do not
contradict. The advocate shall be appointed, and
if the reasons for necessary defense cease to
exist his appointment shall be cancelled by the
presiding judge and in preliminary proceedings by
the judge. The appointed advocate is bound to
take over the defense.

* Assistance to the accused. The accused who is
unable to meet the costs of his defense is
entitled to defense at a reduced fee or free

2. Procedures.

* Preparatory procedures for bringing a suspect to
trial. Crimes are investigated by police
investigators. In the case of crime committed on
board ship, the investigation can be conducted by
the captain during a long voyage. During the
investigation, the investigator proceeds on his
own initiative in order to clarify all facts
significant to the case, such as the offender and
the consequences of the crime. The investigator
assembles all evidence, not taking into account
whether such evidence is against or in favor of
the defendant.
The defendant cannot be forced to give
evidence or plead guilty. The defense of the
defendant and the evidence presented by him,
provided it is not completely irrelevant, is
carefully examined. With the exception of cases
which require the consent of the prosecutor under
the Code of Criminal Procedure, the investigator
independently makes all decisions regarding the
investigating procedure and acts related to the
investigation and is fully responsible for their
lawful and timely performance.
The investigator may refuse to fulfill the
instruction of the prosecutor only if he assumes
that the instruction is inconsistent with the law.

If the prosecutor insists on his instruction, he
shall submit the matter to the closest superior
prosecutor, who shall either cancel the
instruction or refer the matter to another
investigator. If the investigator considers the
investigation completed and the results of such
investigation is sufficient for bringing in an
indictment, he shall provide the defendant and the
advocate with the opportunity to inspect records
and submit petitions for the amendment of the
After the completion of the investigation the
investigator shall submit to the prosecutor a file
with the petition asking to bring in an
indictment, along with the list of suggested
evidence. The investigator may also refer the
matter to another body, if the results of
preliminary proceedings suggest the act should not
be regarded as a crime but is still an act which
another competent body regards as a summary or
disciplinary offense. Finally, the investigator
may decide to stop the prosecution in the
following circumstances: a) it is beyond doubt
that an act has not been committed, b) the act is
not a crime and there is no reason to refer the
matter elsewhere, c) there is no proof that the
act was committed by the defendant, d) the
evidence is inadmissible, e) the attached
punishment is insignificant in comparison with the
punishment already inflicted upon the defendant or
which is expected to be inflicted for another act,
and f) another body, foreign court or authority
has already made disciplinary decisions concerning
the act and such decision is regarded as
sufficient punishment.
The bodies in charge of criminal proceedings
must ascertain the facts of the case. (Bodies in
charge of criminal proceedings mean the court,
prosecutor, investigator and police.) Criminal
proceedings refer to the proceedings under the
valid Code of Criminal Procedure. They must
clarify the circumstances which are against and in
favor of the defendant and establish evidence in
both cases. Even if the defendant pleads guilty,
the bodies in charge of criminal proceedings are
not exempt from the obligation to review all
circumstances of the case.
The bodies in charge of criminal proceedings
must evaluate the evidence based upon careful
consideration of all circumstances of the case,
both individually and as a whole. Anything to
help clarify the case can be accepted as evidence,
especially defendant and witness testimony, expert
opinions, objects and documents significant for
criminal proceedings and inspection.
The prosecutor supervises the preliminary
proceedings, during which time the prosecutor is
entitled to give binding instructions for the
investigation of crimes and to demand files,
documents, materials and reports from the
investigator or police body in order to inspect
whether the investigator starts the criminal
prosecution in time and proceeds duly during the
prosecution. Preliminary proceedings refer to the
process from the commencement of the prosecution
until the lodgement of a complaint, the referral
of the matter to another body, or the suspension
or abatement of the prosecution. Criminal
prosecution means that part of the proceedings
from the commencement of criminal prosecution to
the point when a decision or order to suspend the
prosecution has come into force. The prosecutor
may also take part in performing of the acts of
the investigator or police body, to personally
perform an individual act or conduct the whole
investigation. Finally, the prosecutor can issue
a decision concerning any case matter, refer the
matter with his instructions back to the
investigator and cancel illegal or unfounded
decisions and measures taken by the investigator
or police and substitute his own for them.
Prosecution in court may commence on the
basis of an indictment, which is referred to and
represented in court by the prosecutor. In laying
an indictment and representation, the prosecutor
shall follow the law and his convictions based on
consideration of all the circumstances of the
case. An indictment may be brought in exclusively
for the act for which a charge was presented. If
the prosecutor intends to qualify a criminal act
in a different way than the investigator, he shall
disclose it to the defendant and his advocate
before he brings in an indictment and find out
whether they suggest the amendment of the
investigation with regard to the intended change
of legal qualification. The prosecutor shall
notify both the defendant and the advocate of the
fact that he is bringing in an indictment. After
the prosecutor brings in an indictment, the court
shall proceed independently. All questions are to
be related to further proceedings and the court
shall be bound, without awaiting other petitions
to take any decisions and measures necessary for
dealing with the indictment, for the closure of
the matter and the enforcement of the court’s
The prosecutor may withdraw the indictment
filed until the inferior court (court of the first
degree) leaves for its final deliberation. After
the commencement of a trial he may do so only if
the defendant waives the continuance of the trial.

A withdrawal of the indictment results in the
matter being referred back to preliminary
Initially, the court shall evaluate whether
an indictment constitutes a reliable basis for
further proceedings. The court shall especially
consider, whether the preliminary proceeding which
preceded the indictment was conducted in a manner
consistent with the Code of Criminal Procedure and
whether its results sufficiently justify bringing
the accused before the court. To that effect, the
evaluation serves as a preliminary hearing, within
which the court may refer the matter back to the
prosecutor for further investigation and, if
necessary, for the rectification of deficiencies
of preliminary proceedings or for proper
clarification of the matter.
If the court refers the matter back to the
prosecutor for further investigation, it must
state in its justification how the preliminary
proceedings must be amended, which facts must be
clarified, and possibly which acts must be
performed. If the prosecutor to whom the matter
was referred back for further investigation
decides to bring an indictment in again, he shall
take into consideration the results of such
further investigation.
The presiding judge shall have a copy of an
indictment, along with the summons to the trial or
a notification of the trial delivered to the
parties of proceedings stipulated by the Code of
Criminal Procedure. He shall also notify the
prosecutor and the defendant’s advocate that a
trial will be held, as well as the injured party
and the person concerned. The date of the trial
shall be stipulated in such a manner to give the
defendant, as of the delivery of the summons, and
the prosecutor and advocate, as of the
notification, a period of at least 5 working days
for the preparation. This period may be shortened
only with their consent.
In the initial part of the trial the
prosecutor delivers an indictment, after which the
presiding judge hears the defendant regarding the
contents of the indictment, and if a claim for
compensation has been raised, also in respect of
that claim. Establishment of further evidence
shall follow, including the hearing of witnesses
and the defendant. The defense advocate and
statutory representative may, with the consent of
the presiding judge, ask the interrogated persons
questions, usually after there are no more
questions from the presiding judge and the jury.
After all evidence has been established, the
presiding judge finds out whether the parties,
including the defendant, wish to submit petitions
for the amendment of evidence. If there are no
such petitions relating to the evidence, the
presiding judge shall declare the establishment of
evidence concluded and shall open the floor to
final statements. The defendant’s advocate or the
defendant shall have the last word. The final
statements may be interrupted by the presiding
judge only if they clearly exceed the scope of the
matter considered. After the end of final
statements and before the judges leave for final
deliberation, the presiding judge asks the
defendant for his last word. During his speech,
the defendant may not be asked any questions by
the court nor by anyone else.
The court may only decide on an act which is
expressed in the indictment petition. In adopting
a decision, the court shall take into account only
the facts which have been discussed in a trial and
evidence established in the trial. The court is
bound to discuss the evidence from preliminary
proceedings related to the matter discussed and
deal with such evidence in the decision. The
court shall not be bound by legal qualification of
the act in the indictment.
If the results of a trial indicate a
substantial change of circumstances in the case
and if further inquiry is needed for the
clarification of the case, the court may refer the
case back from the trial to the prosecutor for
further investigation. The court shall follow the
same procedure if the results of the trial suggest
the defendant committed another act which is a
crime and the prosecutor applies for a referral of
the case with regard to the need of a common
hearing. The defendant may lodge a complaint
against a decision to refer the matter back to
preliminary proceedings. The court shall also
refer the matter to another body if it finds that
a crime is not involved, but that the act for
which the prosecution was instituted could be
regarded by another body as a summary or
disciplinary offense on which such a body is
competent to decide. Otherwise the court shall
decide on a verdict of guilty or an acquittal of
the defendant.
The legal remedy against the verdict of the
inferior court (court of the first degree) is an
appeal. Only the prosecutor may challenge the
verdict in the defendant’s disfavor. If
obligations to pay damages are involved, the
injured party that claimed compensation shall also
enjoy the same right to appeal. The verdict also
can be challenged in the defendant’s favor by
direct relatives, brothers or sisters, adoptive
parents, adoptive children, spouse and common law
spouse. If the defendant has been deprived of the
capacity to perform legal acts or if his capacity
is restricted, his statutory representative or his
advocate may also lodge an appeal in his favor.
A sole judge may issue an order, such as a
“criminal order” in a criminal case, without
hearing the matter in a trial, if the facts are
proved beyond all doubt by the evidence obtained.
Such an order has the nature of the guilty
verdict. The procedural effects related to the
declaration of this verdict begins on the delivery
of the criminal order to the defendant, or to his
advocate, as the case may be. The defendant,
persons who are entitled to lodge an appeal in his
favor, and the prosecutor may raise an objection
against the criminal order. If such an objection
is raised, the criminal order is cancelled and the
sole judge shall order a trial of the matter. The
order may impose a sentence of up to one year
imprisonment, the prohibition of performing an
activity of up to 5 years, a fine or a forfeiture.
In proceedings concerning a criminal act for
which the law imposes a sentence of imprisonment
which does not exceed 5 years, the court, and in
preliminary proceedings the prosecutor, may with
the consent of the defendant suspend the
prosecution conditionally. If the defendant
pleaded guilty, the court and the prosecutor may
require compensation for the loss caused by the
act, or arrange an agreement with the injured
party that the defendant pay such compensation.
The decision to conditionally suspend
prosecution shall stipulate a probationary period
from 6 months up to 2 years. A defendant who
concluded an agreement to pay damages to the
injured party must pay damages during the
probationary period.
The defendant may be ordered to observe
reasonable restrictions during the probationary
period to ensure that he leads a decent life. If
the defendant does not comply with the imposed
conditions during the probationary period, his
prosecution shall continue. Conditional
suspension of prosecution is an interim decision
and cannot be regarded as proving guilt.

* Official who conducts prosecution. The
prosecutor is bound to prosecute all known crimes,
although there are admissible exceptions under the
law or a declared international treaty (for
instance, persons enjoying diplomatic immunity).
The prosecution may not be continued in cases (a)
where a pardon or amnesty has been granted by the
president of the republic, (b) where limitations
have occurred in the prosecution, (c) in cases
when a person is not criminally responsible
because he is under age, (d) in the case of the
death of an offender. Also, the prosecutor cannot
begin proceedings in cases where the prosecution
is dependent on the consent of the injured party
and such consent has not been given or has been
Unless the Code of Criminal Procedure
stipulates otherwise, the bodies in charge of
criminal proceedings shall act ex-officio. In
some cases, the law provides that bodies in charge
of criminal proceedings may not act on their own
initiative, but only following an instigation or
petition made by an entitled person. This
procedure is followed in the case of reviews of
legal decisions. Damages are also decided in
criminal proceedings only on the basis of a claim
presented by the injured party.

* Alternatives to trial. After prosecution
against a person is started, the criminal case can
be disposed of by releasing it to another
authority, abating prosecution, and interrupting
the prosecution. In 1993, a total of 19,212 cases
were disposed of by abating prosecution and
293,306 cases were abated by interrupting
prosecution. There is a new rule that a
prosecutor can stop prosecution and place the
offender on probation.
After a lawsuit is instituted by a
prosecutor, the court can make a decision after
the preliminary hearing and release the case to a
certain court or other authority, stop and
interrupt the prosecution, “remand” the case to
the prosecutor to re-investigate it, and stop the
prosecution and place the offender on probation.
If the court has not made one of the above-
mentioned decisions, the case goes to trial. In
1992, a total of 31,017 persons were sentenced in
the Czech Republic. As of January 1, 1994, the
amendment of the Penal Code has enabled a
magistrate to pronounce the penal action without
hearing the case before the court, as long as the
facts of the case have been reliably proven. The
amendment also makes possible for a court to stop
prosecution under certain conditions and place the
offender on probation.

* Proportion of prosecuted cases going to trial.
Information not obtained.

* Pre-trial incarceration conditions. Custody is
a procedural
act which ensures the detention of the accused for
the purposes of criminal proceedings and the
execution of punishment. Its purpose is also to
prevent the accused from impeding or frustrating
the establishment of evidence, and to prevent the
completion of a criminal offense or the commission
of a new criminal offence. The Code of Criminal
Procedure does not allow for mandatory custody.
Only the person who is charged can be
remanded into custody. In court proceedings
custody is decided by a single judge, who only
decides criminal matters of guilt and punishment
within his jurisdiction. A judge decides on
matters of custody in preliminary proceedings,
upon a suggestion of the prosecutor.
In addition, a complaint against a decision
of custody is admissible as a regular legal
remedy. A tribunal of a superior court decides on
any complaint against the decision of the lower
court. If criminal proceedings are conducted
against the accused serving a sentence of
imprisonment and if a statutory reason for custody
is given, the court, or the judge upon the
suggestion of the prosecutor in preliminary
proceedings, decides on the reasons,
specifications, and duration of restriction.
The custody may only last for the period
which is absolutely necessary. Should the custody
in preliminary proceedings exceed 6 months and
should there be danger that discharge of the
accused could frustrate or impede the
accomplishment of the purpose of criminal
proceedings, the judge may, upon the suggestion of
the prosecutor, extend the custody for a maximum
period of 1 year. The period may be further
extended only by a tribunal, but cannot exceed a
maximum period of 2 years. The custody in court
proceedings, combined with the custody in
preliminary proceedings may not exceed 2 years.
If it is impossible to complete the
prosecution within the mentioned period and if
discharge of the accused could frustrate or impede
the prosecution’s purpose, due to the difficulty
of the matter or other serious reasons, the
Supreme Court may extend the custody. The custody
can only last for as long as absolutely necessary.
Also, the time served in custody and the period by
which it was extended cannot exceed 3 years, or 4
years in case of especially grave criminal
All bodies in charge of criminal proceedings
are obliged to examine whether the reasons for
custody still exist, in each stage of the
prosecution. The judge shall do so in preliminary
proceedings when deciding on the suggestion of the
prosecutor to extend custody and deciding on the
request of the accused to be discharged from
In preliminary proceedings, the prosecutor
can also make such decisions concerning custody.
If the prosecutor agrees to the discharge of the
accused, the presiding judge may decide on the
discharge from custody in court proceedings.
If there is an alternative measure which
serves the same purpose as custody, the accused
shall not be remanded into custody. For instance,
instead of imposing custody on a person for
suspicion of escape or continuing criminal
activity, a surety given by a citizens’ common
interest association for the further conduct of
the accused can be substituted. The term,
citizens’ common interest organization, involves
mainly trade union and other social organizations,
working groups and churches, with the exception of
political parties and political movements. The
surety would also concern the accused’s appearance
in court, or before the prosecutor or investigator
when summoned. The accused would also have to
consistently report absences from his or her place
of residence and give a written promise that he or
she will lead a decent life, will not commit
another criminal act, and will fulfil the
obligations and observe the restrictions imposed
upon him or her.
The court and the judge in preliminary
proceedings must regard this substitution to
custody to be sufficient, considering the
character of the accused and the nature of the
case, in order for the substitution to be a
legally viable alternative.

* Bail Procedure. Another measure which can be
substituted for custody, if the accused is
suspected of escape or continuing criminal
activity, is a financial surety (bail). However,
if the accused is prosecuted for terror(ism) (93
and 93a), exposure of the public to danger under
Section 2,3 (179), illegally producing and holding
drugs, psychotropic substances and poisons under
Section 3 (1987), murder (219), bodily harm (222),
robbery (Sect.3, subsect.234), rape (Sect.2,3,
subsect.241), and sexual abuse (Sect.3,4, subsect.
242) under the Criminal Law Act, bail may not be
accepted. Also, if the reason of the custody is a
suspicion that criminal activity might continue,
bail might not be accepted.
With consent of the accused, bail may be
furnished by another person. Prior to the
acceptance of the bail, such person must be
informed of the basis of the accusation and the
reasons for custody. The amount and manner of
bail deposition is decided by court, and in the
case of preliminary proceedings, by the judge.
The bail must have the minimum value of
10,000 Czech crowns, with an undetermined upper
limit. In determining the specific amount of the
bail, the character and financial resources of the
accused or the person who stands bail for the
accused is taken into consideration.
Bail is accepted by a court decision and in
preliminary proceedings by a judge’s decision. A
complaint can be brought against a bail decision.
Initially, the court or judge must decide whether
they accept the bail. Following their decision,
they decide whether to discharge the accused or
keep him or her in custody.
The custody of juveniles, or persons between
15 and 18 years old when they committed the
offense, is governed by special regulations. The
custody of a juvenile is admissible only in cases
where the purpose of the custody cannot be
attained in any other way. Other means of
securing a juvenile, which have priority over
custody, include the surety of a citizens’ common-
interest association, a financial surety, and
means not expressly stated in the law, such as
parental measures or placing the juvenile in a
reformative institution.

* Proportion of pre-trial offenders incarcerated.
As of December 31, 1992, there were 66,565
prosecutions conducted against persons; 5,965 of
them in custody. Also, as of January 1, 1994,
there were 7,810 accused, nonconvicted persons in
prison, of which 261 were women.


1. Administration.
The Constitutional Court sits at the top of
the judicial hierarchy, under which sit the
Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court,
the High Courts, Regional Courts and Regional
Courts of Commerce, and District (Local) Courts.
In the capital territory of the Czech
Republic, the Municipal Court and Local Courts
substitute for the Regional Court and Local
Courts, respectively. In the town of Brno, the
Municipal Court substitutes for the corresponding
District Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court has not yet
been established. Its constitution is linked with
the institution of a new administrative order that
should establish a new system of state
administration and supervision.

2. Special Courts.
The only special courts in the Czech Republic
are the Regional Courts of Commerce that decide
business affairs within the range of their
Criminal courts deal with offenses. However,
courts specialized in transport, youth, and army
cases can be established if the district court
chooses to do so.

3. Judges.

* Number of judges. As of January 1, 1994, there
were a total number of 1,903 practicing judges in
the courts of the Czech Republic, of which 1,168
were women (61%) and 735 were men (39%).
According to Article 84, paragraph 1, of the
Constitution of the Czech Republic, the
Constitutional Court consists of 15 judges.
As of January 1, 1994, the Supreme Court has
a total of 26 judges of which 3 (12%) are women
and 23 (88%) are men. The High Court has a total
number of 98 judges, of which 47 (48%) are women
and 51 (52%) are men. The Regional Courts have a
total number of 452 judges, of which 237 (52%) are
women and 215 (48%) are men. The Regional courts
of Commerce have a total number of 101 judges in
which 68 (67%) are women and 33 (33%) are men.
The District (local) courts have a total of 1,226
judges, of which 813 (66%) are women and 413 (34%)
are men.
Also as of January 1, 1994, 373 probationers,
of which 246 (66%) were women, were being prepared
for working as judges at criminal courts. 41
probationers, of which 28 (68%) were women, were
working at regional courts of commerce.

* Appointment and qualifications. Under Article
84, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Czech
Republic, the President of the Czech Republic
appoints the Constitutional Court judges, in
accordance with the opinion of the Senate. Judges
are also appointed in accordance with the opinion
of the Parliament. Members of the Constitutional
Court are nominated for a period of 10 years.
A candidate for the Constitutional Court must
be an unimpeachable citizen, who can be elected to
become a senator, thereby having the right to vote
and being at least 40 years old. The candidate
must also be a graduate of the Faculty of Law and
must have worked as an attorney or judge for at
least ten years.
Other court judges are appointed by the
President of the Czech Republic for an unlimited
time period. Any citizen of the Czech Republic
who is qualified to work in a legal profession and
is unimpeachable can be appointed a judge.
Candidates must have experience and moral
qualities which guarantee the duties of the judge
will be properly discharged, must be at least 25
years old on the day of appointment, and must
agree to be appointed as judges and to serve in
with the courts to which they are directed. In
addition, a judge must be a graduate from a
university and must have passed the special
judicial examination.
During the 3-year probation period,
probationers prepare for the profession of judge.

The Minister of Justice can include time spent in
another profession as part of the probation
period, on the condition that the previous work
included experience necessary for the work of a
judge. Reduction of the probation period cannot
exceed 2 years.
After the probation period is over,
probationers must pass the special judicial
examination whose aim is to find out whether they
have the necessary knowledge and are adequately
prepared to discharge the duties of judges.


1. Sentencing Process.

* Who determines the sentence? Section 90 of the
Constitution of the Czech Republic stipulates that
only the court shall decide on the guilt and
penalty for criminal offenses, similar to the
stipulations by the Convention on Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms in Article 40. The tribunal
or sole judge decides cases by a verdict, and in
defined cases a sole judge by an order (that is, a
criminal order). An order can result only in the
imposition of prison sentences with a maximum of 1
year. It can also result in the performance of
activities for up to 5 years, a fine and
forfeiture of property. Section 23 of the
Criminal Law Act on the purpose of penalties
determines the type and severity of the penalty.

* Is there a special sentencing hearing?
Information not obtained.

* Which persons have input into the sentencing
process? The provisions of Sections 3 to 6 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure regulates the
cooperation between the bodies in charge of
criminal proceedings and citizens’ common-interest
associations. Citizens’ common interest
associations are entitled to send their
representative to the hearing before the District
or Regional Court acting as an appellate court.
The representative then states his opinion on the
matter discussed, on the character of the offender
and on the possibilities of reformation. The
citizens’ common-interest associations may also
act as a surety for the reformation of the
offender, if there are reasons to expect that the
offender will be reformed. This may influence the
penalty decisions.

2. Types of Penalties.

* Range of penalties. Article 39 of the
Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms stipulates that penalties may be imposed
under the law only; only the law may provide the
type of penalty and conditions for its imposition.

Article 7, Sect. 2 of the Convention on Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms provides that no
person may be tortured or subject to cruel,
inhumane or humiliating treatment or punishment.
Only penalties stipulated by Section 27 of
the Criminal Law Act may be imposed as a
punishment for a criminal offense. The penalties
are as follows: imprisonment, loss of honorary
titles and distinctions, loss of military rank,
prohibition of certain activities, forfeiture of
property, fine, forfeiture of property,
banishment, ban from residence. Extraordinary
penalties such as 15 to 25 years imprisonment and
life imprisonment may also be imposed.
The Criminal Law Act enables the majority of
penalties to be imposed both separately and in
combination with another penalty. However, the
loss of honorary titles and distinctions, and the
loss of military rank are penalties which may not
be imposed separately.
For juveniles, the court may impose only a
penalty of imprisonment, forfeiture of property,
banishment and a fine, if the offender is
gainfully employed. If it does not impede
vocational training, the court may also ban the
performance of certain activities, provided that
the upper limit of the penalty does not exceed 5
years. The penalties of imprisonment stipulated
by the Criminal Law Act are, in the case of
juveniles, reduced by half. However, the upper
limit may not exceed 5 years and the lower limit
may not fall below 1 year.
A nonsuspended penalty of imprisonment is
usually imposed upon offenders for serious
criminal offenses, such as murder, robbery, and
rape, in which the Criminal Law Act does not allow
for any other sanction. Otherwise, there is an
effort to limit prison penalties to cases where no
alternative to incarceration would achieve the
purpose of the penalty.
The amendment of 1990 provides that a
nonsuspended penalty of imprisonment for criminal
offenses where the upper limit of the penalty does
not exceed 1 year may be imposed under the
condition that the purpose of the penalty cannot
be obtained by another purpose, considering the
character of the offender.
In 1992, the courts of the Czech Republic
imposed suspended sentences of imprisonment for
59.4% of the cases, imposed non-suspended
sentences of imprisonment for 23.9% of the cases,
and imposed fines for 11.4% of the cases.

* Death penalty. The amendment of the Criminal
Law Act of 1990 abolished the death penalty,
substituting life imprisonment. Life imprisonment
is imposed for the most serious criminal offenses,
the majority of which involve homicide.


1. Description.

* Number of prisons and type. In 1993, there were
a total of 28 prisons involved in custody and
Since 1994, a new classification of prisons
has emerged under the Penal Code and regulations
of General Headquarters of Prisons in the Czech
Republic. (Penal Code, 1993). In accordance with
these regulations, as of January 1, 1994, custody
can take place in the 9 custodial prison
facilities in the Czech Republic as well as in the
14 special prison sections for custody in existing
There are several types of prisons. There
are 5 prisons with supervision, 3 prisons with
surveillance departments, 13 prisons with guards,
of which 12 have departments with surveillance and
2 have departments with supervision for women, and
4 prisons with intensive guard service, of which 2
have departments with surveillance as well as
guards. There are 2 prisons for juvenile
delinquents, which are structured to include
departments with supervision, surveillance, and
guards. There are also departments with
supervision and with surveillance for adult males
in these same prisons.
Separate departments for imprisonment, mostly
with surveillance, exist for all custodial
Women are separated from men, although
sometimes only within the framework of one
independent department. Two prisons with guards
and one department in the custodial prison are
used for women. These prisons also have
departments with supervision, surveillance, and
All prisons are divided into 2 sections. One
section is used for the imprisonment of convicted
drug abusers. The other section is used for the
imprisonment of psychopaths, in which special
programs are applied.

* Number of prison beds. In 1993, the prison
capacity was 16,833 persons. In 1994, the
capacity is expected to increase to 18,133

* Number of annual admissions. In 1992, the
number of newly imprisoned persons was 7,048, of
which 277 were women.

* Average daily population/number of prisoners.
As of January 1, 1994, there were 8,612 convicted
persons in prisons, of which 268 were women. This
figure does not include the 7,810 persons who
stood as accused, not convicted, of which 261 were

* Actual or estimated proportions of inmates
incarcerated. The following figures reflect the
actual number of inmates incarcerated for certain
crimes in 1992.

Drug crimes 54

Violent crimes (includes completed
and attempted murder, rape, and
intentional infliction of
grievous bodily harm) 1,697

Property crimes 4,534

Other crimes (includes only
robbery) 1,438

2. Administration.

* Administration. The prison system is a system
of state institutions. It is administered by
General Headquarters, which is subordinate to the
Minister of Justice.

* Number of prison guards. There were a total of
7,549 prison staff, of which 30% were women. The
Justice Guard, which is an autonomous body,
represents a total of 500 persons subordinate to
the General Headquarters of Prisons.
The administration is presently being
reorganized into a civil service structure,
enlarging total prison personnel to about 1,500
persons. The ethnicity of the staff is not taken
into account.

* Training and qualifications. Persons working in
the prison service are required to have either a
secondary school education or a completed
University education. Introductory courses (forms
A, B, and C) are taken and supervised practical
training is undergone. A long term preparatory
course of about 2 years is being developed for
prison staff. During their service, prison staff
can participate in various re-qualification
courses and other courses aimed at broad special

* Expenditure on prison system. In 1993, the
expenses connected with the prison service
represented 2,444 million Czech crowns. The
amount planned for the 1994 allocation is 3,195
million Czech crowns.

3. Prison Conditions.

* Remissions. The possibility of placing an
offender on probation (parole) exists only after
half of the prison term has been spent in prison
or on the basis of amnesty given by the President
of the Czech Republic, if other legal conditions
are met. Persons who have committed serious
crimes such as high treason, terrorism, murder,
genocide (Penal Code, Sect. 62, par. 1), and
persons sentenced to exceptional imprisonment
penalties cannot apply for probation before having
served two-thirds of their prison term. For
persons sentenced to life imprisonment, they must
have served twenty years in prison before applying
for probation. If a prisoner is placed on
probation, the court defines a probationary period
of 1 to 7 years, beginning at the time the
prisoner is set free.

* Work/education. Prisoners work if prisons have
work for them to do. Currently, about half of all
prisoners work. They rarely refuse to work and,
due to the lack of jobs, are not compelled to
A program on how to spend free time has been
established for the prisoners who do not or refuse
to work. For example, introductory courses aimed
at various professions are offered to prisoners.
Juvenile delinquents can obtain a secondary school
degree in custody with a certificate valid in the
territory of the Czech Republic. However,
juvenile prisoners are not obliged to attend

* Amenities/privileges. There are two kinds of
visits allowed in prison: with and without
surveillance. Visits are granted on the basis of
a special regulation.
Various hobbies and training programs can
be pursued, including various psychological
training methods and guidance, in an educational
framework and according to the possibilities
allowed by the prison staff.
General medical care for prisoners is ensured
by physicians and nurses employed by the prison
service. There are two hospitals and one separate
department in a psychiatric hospital which are
owned by the prison service and are used for the
hospitalization of prisoners. Special medical
care is ensured by specialists on a contract


* Extradition. Extradition is regulated by
national criminal law and public international
law. Treaties have been concluded with such
countries as Albania (Decree No. 87/1960 Coll. of
L.), Algeria (Decree No. 17/1984 Coll. of L.),
Bulgaria (Decree No. 3/1987 Coll. of L.), Cuba
(Decree No. 80/1981 Coll. of L.), Hungary (Decree
No, 63/1990 Coll. of L.), Poland (Decree No.
42/1989 Coll. of L.), and Greece (Decree No.
192/1993 Coll. of L.). A treaty has also been
concluded with the Slovak Republic (the
notification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
No. 209/1993 Coll. of L.). Bilateral
international treaties concerning the problem of
offender extradition have also been entered into
with, for example, France (Decree No. 11/1931
Coll. of L.), Austria (Decree No. 87/1985 Coll. of
L.), the United States (Decree No. 48/1925 Coll.
of L.), and Great Britain (Decree No. 211/1926
Coll. of L.).

* Exchange and transfer of prisoners. Information
not available.

* Specified conditions. Detailed regulations
concerning extradition is included in bilateral
treaties and multilateral international
conventions. Since its foundation in 1918, the
Czech Republic has entered into bilateral treaties
with a number of European and other countries.
Such treaties have been declared in the Collection
of Laws, particularly the treaties regulating
legal contact with foreign countries in criminal
matters like extradition proceedings.
The Criminal Law Act provides for extradition
in Section 21, where, in subsection 1, a citizen
of the Czech Republic may not be extradited for
the purpose of prosecution, nor for the execution
of punishment. The Code of Criminal Procedure
regulates extradition; it stipulates that the
provisions are supportive and shall apply in cases
when there is no international treaty to regulate
the extradition. It also regulates the
extradition of an offender from abroad for the
purposes of prosecution or for the execution of
punishment and protective measures.
There are several multilateral conventions
binding the Czech Republic. The Convention
relating to the extradition of persons sentenced
to imprisonment in the state of their nationality,
concluded on the 19 May 1978 in Berlin, and came
into force for the Czech Republic on September 23,
1980 (Decree No. 123/1980 Coll. of L.).
The Convention on the extradition of
convicted persons, concluded on 21 March 1983 in
Strasbourg, came into force for the Czech Republic
on the August 1, 1992 (Notification of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1992b). Article 22
of the Convention explains its relation to other
treaties and provides that it shall not affect
other rights and obligations arising from
extradition treaties or other treaties concerning
international cooperation. In addition, the
states are enabled to enter into bilateral or
multilateral agreements on issues regulated by the
The European Convention on Extradition,
concluded on December 13, 1957 in Paris, took
effect for the Czech Republic on July 14, 1992
(Notification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
1992a). Article 28 stipulates for states bound by
the Convention, its provisions shall substitute
the provisions of all bilateral treaties,
conventions and agreements which regulate the
extradition between any two contracting parties.
The negotiation of bilateral or multilateral
agreements will only occur in order to amend the
provision of this Convention or to promote its

Note: this work was completed in 1993


See Also

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal System
  • Criminology
  • Criminal Justice System

Further Reading

  • Cole, George F., S. J. Frankowski, and M. G. Gertz, (1987) Major Criminal Justice Systems. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • David, R. and J. E. Brierley (1968) Major Legal Systems of the World Today. London: Free Press.
  • Fairchild, E. (1993), Comparative criminal justice systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Feeley, Malcolm M. (1973), “Two models of the criminal justice system”. Law and Society Review, 7(3): 407-425.


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