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Victim of crime
The victim of crime is also called the injured party. Some offences are not subject to public prosecution, that is, the prosecutor has no jurisdiction to bring a charge unless the injured party reports the offence for the bringing of charges. Most offences, however, are subject to public prosecution, which means that the prosecutor is free to act as he or she sees fit, independently of the views of the injured party.
If the injured party makes a request, the prosecutor must present a claim for damages in the trial on the behalf of the injured party. This assistance by the prosecutor is free of charge. The prosecutor may refuse to present the injured party’s claim, if it is obviously ill-founded or if its presentation would significantly impair the prosecution of the case. If the prosecutor refuses, the injured party is notified of the same. In this event, he or she must self present the claim in court or retain the assistance of counsel, such as an advocate.
In practice, the prosecutors pursue about 75 per cent of the claims for damages that the injured parties wish to have presented in court.
In the Finnish system of criminal procedure, the injured parties have a ”secondary” right of prosecution. If the prosecutor has decided not to prosecute, the injured party is entitled self to bring a charge for the offence and have the case considered by a court. Before doing so, it is advisable to read the prosecutor’s statement of reasons for the non-prosecution very carefully.
The parties can also be directed to mediation. Successful mediation often results in a decision not to prosecute. The prosecutors and the police can supply more information on the availability of mediation.
Also a person who has been issued a non-prosecution decision may submit the prosecutor’s statement as to his or her guilt to be considered by the court. In practice, this is an extremely rare occurrence.
Typically, a decision not to prosecute is based on lack of evidence. This is the reason for some 16,000 such decisions every year, over one half of the total.
Example of a decision not to prosecute
Prosecutor front page
Updated on 7 July 2009