Anyone can be a victim of a crime. Do not think it only happens to other people.

A crime victim is a person who, due to an act committed against the current penal laws, has suffered an attack on their life, physical or psychological integrity, emotional distress, or material loss. Also considered victims are the family members of a person whose death has been directly caused by a crime and who have suffered damage due to that death.

The concept of a victim also includes those who are victims of public calamities and natural disasters. According to Article 1 of Resolution No. 243/2021 of the National Council of the Public Ministry: Art. 1. This Resolution establishes the Institutional Policy of Full Protection and Promotion of Rights and Support to Victims, intending to ensure fundamental rights to victims of criminal offences, infractions, natural disasters, public calamities, and serious violations of human rights, guaranteeing them access to information, communication, participation, truth, justice, due diligence, security, support, individualised and non-discriminatory professional treatment, physical, patrimonial, protection of psychological integrity and personal data, participation, and repair of material, moral, and symbolic damages, supported as a result of the victimising fact (link).

Most of the acts considered crimes in Brazil are described in the Penal Code, but there are some, such as drug trafficking or illegal carrying of weapons, and crimes against the environment, which are provided for in other laws.

If you were or are a victim of a crime, report it to the authorities. To learn more about how to report a crime, click here.

Crime victims have a set of rights that are important to know. To learn more about the rights of crime victims, click here.

In the criminal process, the victim is almost always called to participate as a witness, as the direct knowledge they have of what happened is very important for discovering the truth. To learn more about witnesses, click here.

But if the victim wants to file a claim for compensation against the defendant because of the damages the crime caused them, they can, besides being a witness, intervene in the process as an assistant to the prosecution. As an assistant to the prosecution, the victim can file a claim for compensation and respective evidence of the damages they suffered. To learn more about the right to compensation, click here.

The assistant's role is to collaborate with the Public Ministry, and by assuming this role, the victim has the possibility of participating more actively in the process. The assistant can, for example, oppose the provisional suspension of the process, request its revocation if compensation has been set and this remains unpaid by the defendant, or actively participate by requesting diligences they consider necessary, appealing decisions issued in the first degree that affect them, among others. The assistant's performance to the prosecution is still limited; for example, Summary 208 of the STF hinders the assistant to the prosecution from appealing a decision granting habeas corpus.

To constitute themselves as an assistant, the victim must have a lawyer. In addition, they generally have to pay a court fee. If the victim cannot afford to pay the lawyer's fees, the court fee, and other process expenses, they can request assistance from the public defender's office. To learn more about the right to legal support, click here.

In processes that involve diffuse and collective interests, such as the issue of orphanhood caused by the COVID-19 pandemic without the government having developed an effective public policy for reception, the Public Ministry can institute a civil inquiry to investigate the facts that occurred, recommend the implementation of public policies, formulate agreements for adjustment of conduct, or propose public civil action. In this sense, Art. 129, III of the Federal Constitution: Art. 129. The institutional functions of the Public Ministry are III – to promote civil inquiry and public civil action to protect public and social property, the environment, and other diffuse and collective interests.

The Law of Public Civil Action also provides for those legitimised to propose public civil action: the Public Defender's Office; the Union; the States; the Federal District; the Municipalities; autarchies; public companies, foundations, or mixed-economy companies; associations. However, for the last two items to propose the action, the following requirements must be met:

1 – be constituted for at least 1 year under civil law;
2 - include among its institutional purposes the protection of public and social property, the environment, the consumer, the economic order, free competition, the rights of racial, ethnic, or religious groups, or artistic, aesthetic, historical, touristic, and landscape heritages (link).

I was a victim of a crime, an epidemic, a public calamity, or a natural disaster: consequences or reactions

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