In contact with a prosecutor
A law-abiding citizen will seldom be in contact with a prosecutor. Nevertheless, there are cases where this may happen even if he or she has not committed any crimes.
For instance, anyone may become a victim of crime, in which event he or she becomes an injured party in criminal proceedings. Likewise, anyone may become an eyewitness to crime, in which event his or her testimony may be required in criminal proceedings.
When a person is guilty e.g. of speeding or some other simple violation, the prosecutor checks the penal order request issued by the police and usually hands down a corresponding penal order.
The custodian of a young person (15 - 17 years) suspected of an offence is summoned to the interrogation and to the trial.
The suspect of an offence becomes the accused (defendant) only when the prosecutor decides to bring a charge on the basis of the information collected in the pre-trial investigation.
Statute of limitations
The provisions on the statute of limitations were revised to a great extent as of the beginning of 2006, when the pertinent amending legislation (Act 297/2003) entered into force.
Criminal charges must be brought within the time limits provided in chapter 8, section 1, of the Penal Code, or they will be out of time.
The time limits are as follows:
Charges shall be brought within
(1) twenty years, if the most severe penalty provided for the offence is fixed-term imprisonment for over eight years,
(2) ten years, if the most severe penalty is imprisonment for over two years and at most eight years,
(3) five years, if the most severe penalty is imprisonment for over one year and at most two years, and
(4) two years, if the most severe penalty is imprisonment for at most one year, or a fine.
Each of the penal provisions in the Penal Code contain a penalty scale applicable to that particular offence, which thus has a direct bearing to the statute of limitations. For instance, the offence of assault is covered by chapter 21, section 5, of the Penal Code, where it is provided that the penalty scale for assault ranges from a fine to
imprisonment for at most two years. It then follows from the application of chapter 8, section 1, of the Penal Code that the statute of limitations for assault is five years (point 3).
There are certain exceptions to the general rule described above. For instance, no statute of limitations applies to offences where the most severe penalty is imprisonment for life. The Penal Code contains but a few such offences, one example is the offence of murder. The minimum statute of limitations for offences in public office is five years and for certain environmental offences ten years. The statute of limitations for the most serious sex offences against children is linked to the age of the victim, so that charges can be brought until the victim is 28 years of age, and under special circumstances even later.
The time limits relating to the statute of limitations are normally counted from the commission of the criminal act. The operation of the statute of limitations will cease only when the court summons in the case has been served on the defendant, which means that both the pre-trial investigation of the offence by the police and the
prosecutor’s evaluation of charges relating to it must have been completed before the time limit expires.
In a few exceptional cases the time limit may be extended once by one year (chapter 8, section 4, of the Penal Code).
Victim of crime
Witness in criminal proceedings
Receiving a ticket
How to object to a demand for punishment
Custodian of a minor
Suspect of crime
Defendant in criminal trial
Prosecutor front page
Updated on 19th of January 2012