According to the 2019 Hungary Crime and Safety Report, Hungary’s overall crime rate in 2018 has decreased or hasn’t drastically changed compared to the crime rate in 2017 in all of the major crime categories.
Before the Pandemic
There is a minimal risk of crimes, such as terrorism and civil unrest, in Budapest. In the 2019 report, non-confrontational crimes against a property in Hungary have shown a minor decrease. The property crimes, such as theft and robbery, also remain the same or have slightly decreased from the previous year.
The most reported crime in Hungary in the year 2018 is street crime. These crimes include petty theft, theft from unattended vehicles, pickpocketing, and vandalism. A theft crime is commonly widespread in places, such as Budapest’s public transportation system, which are the train stations, trams, subways, and busses, and places frequently swamped by tourists.
The popular areas filled with tourists are also prone to overcharging, and involve some restaurants, bars, and clubs. The consumption scam, also called a honeypot, is typically targeted to men, where establishments overcharge their drinks drastically.
This type of incident has decreased in 2018 since Hungary’s police force took countermeasures for this illegal activity.
Criminal acts involving violence and harm towards the victims, such as aggravated assault, rape, and homicide, remain low in Hungary. Their homicide cases have considerably decreased from the year 1998 up to the year 2017. The homicide cases reported in 2017 were 178, and the homicide rate was 2.5 cases per 100,000 population.
Residential crimes, which are burglary and robbery, remain a problem in Hungary even though their number has been decreased.
In 2015, Hungary’s burglary level was 28,595 from the reported 29,883 in 2014, where there is a 4.31% change.
The burglary rate in 2015 was 292.4 cases per 100,000 population from 304.8 cases in every 100,000, resulting in a 4.05% change.
Robbery cases in Hungary steadily decreased from 2010, with up to 3,396 cases to 1,954 cases in 2014 and with only 696 reported cases in 2018. With the reported cases gradually decreasing, Hungary’s robbery rate fell from 34.2 cases per 100,000 population in 2010 to 19.9 cases per 100,000 population in 2014, and finally to only 7.2 cases per 100,000 population in 2018.
There has been no religious or ethnic violence that occurred in 2018, aside from a few minor incidents. Drug-related crime has been prevalent in the country because synthetic drugs have been popular among Hungarian teens.
During the Pandemic
As of October 2020, there have been 147,961 coronavirus cases in Hungary, with 3,190 death cases and 34,010 recovered cases. Nonetheless, the crime rate is still relatively low in 2019, even compared to 2018, according to the Hungary 2020 crime and safety report.
Non-confrontational crime against a property, property crime, e.g., theft and robbery, and violent acts against a person remained comparatively the same as the year 2018.
Street crime is still the most reported crime in 2019 and is most prevalent in places frequently visited by tourists and Budapest’s primary public transport system, e.g trains, trams, and buses.
The violent crime rates in Hungary remain low and the country saw a decrease in homicide numbers- from 148 in 2018 to 141 in 2019. A large part of this is still from domestic violence. Still, the police force in Hungary shows a high successful investigation rate due to police being aware of the suspects.
Residential crimes persist even with the decline of numbers. That is why home alarm and monitoring systems have been popular for security home defense. Organized crime groups manage most of the trafficking in stolen cars, persons, narcotics, and prostitution operations. This activity remains prevalent and is continuously combated by the Hungarian Police.
There was a rise in violent activities involving ethnicity and race in 2019. There were 19 cases of hate speech, 10 of vandalism, and 3 of assault recorded by a Jewish group in Hungary monitoring anti-Semitism. There also has been an ethnic nationalist group rising to popularity by advocating intolerance towards Roma, Jews, and LGBTI+ persons.
Thankfully, the police are continuously battling these crimes. Hungary has an emergency hotline to call when Hungarians need police or medical assistance during attacks.
How the Trial Proceedings in Hungary Differ from Other Countries?
The criminal proceedings in Hungary are commonly started by bringing the charge against someone.
The next step is the investigation which can be broken down in two (2) parts: the detection and investigation. The goal of the detection stage is to identify if a crime was really committed and to identify who is the suspect. Investigation is where the collection of necessary data and evidence gathering takes place.
Depending on what is found during the investigation, the proceeding could be ended or be brought to the prosecutor. When the latter happens, the case will then proceed to the judiciary hearing.
The court will schedule the date for a preparatory hearing, and summon the defendant and its attorney. The proceeding will end with it when the defendant pleads guilty. If not, a hearing trial will take place where both parties submit the evidence, the accused may defend themselves, witnesses will be called, etc. in order to help in deliberating a proper decision.
The last phase will be the making of the appropriate judgement, it will either be conviction or acquittal. Both parties present during the trial will give a statement whether they accept the decision or not. Another procedure may happen if the court finds it necessary.
The criminal proceeding in Hungary is almost similar to how other countries, say the U.S, operates. The initialization of an investigation is done by law enforcement, then arresting or summoning the defendant, next is an initial hearing which the accused could plead guilty, or not in order to proceed to trial, afterwards choosing the jury and trial takes place.
The offender caught by the police undergo proper criminal proceedings and have access to different rights that would protect them. This includes the right to a fair trial, the right to an attorney, and the right to bail. Which could be provided by a bail agency if the defendant cannot afford the bail money.
Lastly is delivering a verdict. After the verdict, both parties can also make an appeal depending on the jury’s decision.
COVID-19 has shown a massive effect in all areas of crimes around the globe. For some countries, such as the US, significantly show a decrease in their criminal incidents but an increase in domestic violence cases. Street crimes significantly decrease because there are fewer people on the street due to the lockdown.
In other countries, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact can be seen drastically, but this is not the case in Hungary. Even before the pandemic, they have low crime rates and stay relatively the same, even in the middle of COVID-19. That is why Hungary’s crime rate can’t be seen to have a drastic change.
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