Austria - Judicial system



As of 2002, Austria had about 200 local courts (Bezirksgerichte) with civil jurisdiction. There were also 19 provincial and district courts (Landesgerichte and Kreisgerichte) with civil and criminal jurisdiction and 4 higher provincial courts (Oberlandesgerichte) with criminal jurisdiction, located in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, and Linz. The Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof), in Vienna, acts as the final appellate court for criminal and civil cases. The Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) has supreme jurisdiction over constitutional and civil rights issues. The Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) ensures the legal functioning of public administration. A central auditing authority controls financial administration. Judges are appointed by the federal government and cannot be removed or transferred. Trial by jury was reintroduced in 1951. There is no capital punishment.

The judiciary is independent of the other branches. Judges are appointed for life and cannot be removed.

Until recently, the law allowed for detention of suspects for 48 hours without judicial review and up to two years of detention during the course of a criminal investigation. Amendments to the law in 1994 require more stringent judicial review of pretrial and investigative detention. Criminal defendants are afforded a presumption of innocence, public trials, and jury trial for major offenses, as well as a number of other procedural rights.

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