The objective of criminal proceedings are to make a decision about the criminal responsibility of a person who committed a crime. In Hungary only a court can establish guilt/criminality and impose a sentence on a person.
In case of a suspicion that a crime was committed, the proceedings are started either ex officio or by bringing a charge against somebody. Such charge may be brought by either the victim of the crime, or anybody becoming aware of such crime. The report must be made to the police.
The criminal proceedings start with the investigation that has two parts: detection and investigation. Detection is designed to identify if the crime was really committed and to establish the perpetrator. Following the collection of necessary data, charging can take place and is followed by an investigation. The objective is to collect the evidences. The general investigation authority is the police, but in certain cases the National Tax and Customs Administration or the prosecutor’s office may also conduct investigations.
As a result of the investigation, the proceedings may either be terminated or the charges brought (prosecution). In the majority of cases the charges are brought by the prosecutor’s office, as the prosecutor’s office acts as a public prosecutor. In certain cases, the injured party may directly represent the charges (these are the so called private and supplementary private actions).
Following charging the case moves to the judiciary stage. The court first fixes a date for the preparatory hearing to which the prosecutor’s office, the accused person and the defence lawyer are summoned. At the preparatory hearing the accused person can make a confession and waive any claims for further evidences. In such a case a judgment can be delivered immediately. In case this fails to take place, the court fixes a date for a hearing trial that is the arena for conducting the evidentiary procedure. During the trial the accused person may defend himself/herself, the parties may submit motions for evidences, based on which the court will hear witnesses, obtain an expert opinion, etc.
The closing act of the trial is the making of the appropriate decision. If, based on the substance of the case, the court decides about criminal liability, a judgment is delivered. The judgment can be either conviction or acquittal.
In general, the parties present at the trial make an immediate statement whether or not they accept the judgment or will lodge an appeal. If necessary, three working days can be allocated to the making of this statement.
The decision of the first instance court will then be assessed by the second instance court, e.g. the judgment of a district court will be assessed by a general court, that of a general court by a court of appeal. The second instance court may either approve/uphold, change or repeal (provided the case of completely unfounded or a material procedural rule was breached) the first instance decision and instruct the acting first instance court to conduct a new procedure.
If regarding criminal responsibility, the decisions of the first and second instance courts are different, a tertiary procedure may take place at either the court of appeal or the Curia.
In case the judgment becomes final and binding, provisions therein must be enforced. The duties of affected bodies may be subject to the sanctions imposed. A financial penalty will be collected by the economic office of the court, community service will be enforced by a probation officer, whilst a custodial sentence will be enforced in law enforcement institutions (prisons).