The trial begins at the date and time indicated in the summons. At times the trial — the main hearing — may be delayed because of the preceding cases on the court’s docket. In addition, sometimes the main hearing must be cancelled at short notice because of the absence of a party. Also for this reason it is important that the summonses are obeyed.
The use of trial counsel is not compulsory in Finland. If the case seems unclear, it is a good idea to get a lawyer. This should be done well in advance of the trial date. Legal aid is provided by state legal aid offices to persons whose lack of means prevent them from self covering the costs of trial. Advocates and other lawyers provide legal aid as well, and act as trial counsel.
The main hearing is conducted orally. The court will only take note of points that have been made to it during the trial. The procedure progresses in stages, which are explained in the beginning of the trial.
After the conclusion of the trial, the court deliberates; at this time, the parties — the prosecutor included — cannot remain in the room. The judgment is pronounced immediately after the deliberations or handed down from the registry of the court within two weeks of the trial.
A conviction must always be based on conclusive proof, while a charge can be brought on the basis of a prima facie case. Accordingly, there is a certain proportion of charges that will be dismissed. Annually, some 5 to 6 per cent of the cases end in this manner. In this event, the defendant may receive compensation for his or her legal costs from state funds.
Prosecutor front page
Updated on 7 July 2009