Confidentiality in criminal proceedings

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If you have been summoned to give an explanation or testimony in criminal proceedings (whether to the police or in court), you have a legal obligation to refuse to give a testimony concerning information protected by a specific act that is to be kept secret, or if by giving an explanation or testimony you would breach a state-imposed or recognised obligation of confidentiality.

In this context, classified information is information defined pursuant to Act No. 412/2005 Sb., on the protection of classified information and on security clearance in the restricted, confidential, secret and top secret regimes. Explanations or testimony regarding such information may only be given on the basis of a waiver of the obligation to protect classified information by the competent authority.

The obligation of confidentiality imposed or recognised by law may arise from a number of legal provisions. The most common are confidentiality obligations known as medical secrecy, banking or postal secrecy, confidentiality of tax advisors, confidentiality of certain state officials or state employees, etc. Again, both the explanation and the testimony are admissible only if you are exempted from the obligation of confidentiality by an authorised person (most often a client, patient, person using services covered by the obligation of confidentiality).

To the same extent that you may be obliged to refuse to give an explanation or a testimony, you are also obliged to refuse to provide other assistance to the law enforcement authorities, in particular, to provide documents containing information that is subject to secrecy or confidentiality.

Please note that even a request by a police authority does not break the confidentiality obligation under the law. Any breach of confidentiality may result in disciplinary action or liability for damages.

What issues do we typically handle for clients in relation to confidentiality in criminal proceedings?

  • When am I obliged to refuse to give a testimony?
  • When am I obliged to refuse to give an explanation?
  • What is classified information?
  • Under what circumstances am I exempt from confidentiality?
  • How can I refuse to give a testimony?
  • I have breached confidentiality, what should I do?
  • How much can I be fined for a breach of confidentiality?
  • I want to prove that I haven’t violated confidentiality
  • What is the penalty for a breach of confidentiality in criminal proceedings?
  • Assessment of the right to refuse to testify on grounds of protection of classified information or confidentiality
  • Assessment of a waiver of confidentiality
  • Assessment of a close person in criminal proceedings