Support and Help

In case you need help or support before or during the legal proceedings, there are a variety of alternatives available.

Here is a short description of alternatives for help and support. For more detailed information about your options, visit the Court Introduction site and click on “Available support” under the headline “Before legal proceedings”.

Support Person
If you feel that you need support, for instance, when being questioned by the police or in order to cope better during the hearing, you have the right to be accompanied by a support person. This person can be a relative or a friend, but you can also ask the Social Services or one of the Victim Support Centers (BOJ) to help you.

A support person may help you feel less anxious and nervous, but is not allowed to speak while you are being questioned or at the hearing. The support person does not receive any payment from the judiciary.

Counsel for the Injured Party
For certain types of crimes, you as a crime victim have the right to your own legal counsel. This applies primarily to sexual crimes and those involving violence in close relationships, but if there are special needs it also applies to other crimes. If you need a counsel, you should bring up the matter with the police officer or the public prosecutor in charge of the preliminary investigation as soon as possible. The counsel, who is usually a lawyer, will look after your interests and give you guidance and support during the investigation and the hearing. The counsel is free of charge for you.

Special Legal Representative for Children
A child who has been subjected to a crime may be entitled to a special legal representative, if a person who has custody of the child (usually a parent), or a person who has a close relationship with the custodian, is suspected of a crime against the child. This special legal representative will safeguard the rights of the child during the investigation and the hearing. The representative is usually a lawyer who has been appointed on the basis of experience, sound knowledge, and personal traits that make him or her suitable for the task.

Witness Support Service
The witness support service is a voluntary service, usually carried out by Victim Support Centers, BOJ. The task of a witness support person is to help witnesses and injured parties, and offer support before and after the hearing. Their role is to make people feel more comfortable in the public areas of the court, for example in the waiting room, and explain, when necessary, what happens at a hearing. However, the witness support person must not take sides in, or even discuss, the case itself.

There is a witness support service established at all District Courts and Courts of Appeal in Sweden. Most courts have a separate witness support service room where witnesses and crime victims can wait undisturbed before the hearing.

Information about where to turn if you want to come in contact with a witness support person is found in the court summons, or on the Victim Support Sweden (BOJ) website.

If you do not speak Swedish, if you have a speech impediment, or seriously impaired hearing, you are entitled to free assistance from an interpreter during the police investigation and the hearing. The same applies for any other contacts with other authorities, for example, the Social Services.

Legal Advice
Under the Legal Aid Act, you are entitled to legal advice concerning all types of cases and lawsuits. This could be the case if the public prosecutor cannot help you with your claim for damages, or if you need help in negotiations with an insurance company. You can contact a lawyer’s office which provides legal advice under the Legal Aid Act. Such a consultation must not exceed two hours and there is a fixed fee. The fee is approximately 1 500 SEK per hour. The fee may be reduced depending on your financial circumstances.

Legal Expenses Insurance and Legal Aid
In some insurance policies, a legal expenses clause is included. This means that the insurance company may reimburse you for the cost of employing a lawyer etc. in connection with a civil action for damages.

If you do not have any insurance including a legal expenses clause and if your case is too complex to be handled through legal advice, you may be granted legal aid, provided that a means test shows that you are eligible for such aid. In that case, part of your costs for legal assistance will be met by the state. Information on how to apply for legal aid is available from any lawyer’s office, court of law, or the National Legal Aid Authority (Rättshjälpsmyndigheten). It is, however, difficult to be granted legal aid from the State. Be aware also that legal aid does not mean that the State pays all your legal expenses. In principal you contribute to the cost to the extent you can afford.

The Social Services
The Swedish Social Services have considerable responsibility for both crime victims and their kindred. This involves various forms of psychological and social support, as well as financial and practical assistance. Some municipalities can also offer support from support centres for young victims of crime, Children’s Advocacy Centres (Barnahus), and sheltered accommodation. Contact your municipality for more information.

Victim Support Centres
There are more than a hundred local victim support centres in Sweden. These centres and their volunteers provide help to victims of all types of crimes. When a crime is reported to the police, the victim will be informed of the local victim support centre and other support activities. The police will also ask the victim whether he or she wants to be contacted by the victim support centre. The victim support centres can offer help through a support person and many also run a witness support service.

The nationwide organisation for victim support is called Victim Support Sweden (BOJ). To learn more about victim support centres in Sweden, and to find your local support centre, visit the BOJ website or call the BOJ call centre at 0200-21 20 19.

An increasing number of municipalities have established support centres specifically for young crime victims. These centres provide support to victims up to the age of 18, and have tasks similar to those of victim support centres. Some of the centres offer support to victims’ parents as well.

Women’s Shelters
Women’s shelters offer practical as well as psychological support to women who have been subjected to various forms of abuse. Probably the most important kind of assistance provided by the shelters is sheltered accommodation. Many women’s shelters also offer legal advice.

There are two national organisations: Women’s and Young Women’s Shelters in Sweden (Roks), and the Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR)   .

There are also telephone helplines for women subjected to threats and violence. One of them is the national Kvinnofridslinjen. You can call this line if you have questions or if you need to talk to someone about your experiences. Everyone working at Kvinnofridslinjen is bound by professional secrecy and you may remain anonymous. You reach the helpline Kvinnofridslinjen by calling 020 – 50 50 50, or visiting the Kvinnofridslinjen website.

Terrafem is a helpline with national coverage for women and girls with a foreign background. It offers support and advice in more than 40 languages. The helpline can be reached at phone number 020-52 10 10.

Men’s Shelters
Men’s shelters provide support to men who have been assaulted, as well as to men who have committed violent acts against women. The latter can receive help in controlling their aggression and finding alternatives to violent behaviour.

Children’s Rights in Society – BRIS
BRIS is a non-profit organisation that supports young people in distress. You can contact BRIS with questions or problems of any kind. The call is free of charge and you can be anonymous. Everyone working at BRIS is bound by an ethical principle of confidentiality, which means that your conversation will not be passed on or spread to anyone else. If you want to, BRIS can help you with a report to the police or the Social Services. BRIS’s telephone number in Sweden is 116 111.

Last Updated: 2013-05-08

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