When the public prosecutor or the police have reason to believe that a crime has been committed, a preliminary investigation will be initiated.
In the course of the investigation, the police may question suspects and other people who may have information, for example, you as the victim of the crime and any witnesses. The police do not have enough resources to investigate all crimes straight away so there may be a delay before the investigation starts. If you ask the police, they should be able to tell you approximately when your case will be dealt with.
You, as the victim of a crime, will now be known as the injured party. As an injured party, you may be questioned and then you will be able to tell a police officer or a prosecutor what you know about the crime. Sometimes it is enough that you give your statement over the telephone but if you are asked to come in for questioning, you are legally required to attend. In case you fail to appear and do not have a valid reason, the police may come to take you in for questioning.
If you are summoned to the police or the public prosecutor, you are entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred in connection with the questioning. Ask the police how to apply for this type of reimbursement. If you want the prosecutor to help you claim for damages for injuries caused by the crime, you shall inform the police officer or prosecutor in charge of the preliminary investigation.
If there are no grounds for pursuing the preliminary investigation, it will be discontinued. This may happen if it has been established that the act in question did not constitute a crime or because no suspect can be identified. If the public prosecutor or the police have decided to discontinue the preliminary investigation, you as the injured party, will normally be notified.
If you are not satisfied with a decision made by the police, you may request that it be reviewed by the public prosecutor. If you are not satisfied with a decision made by the prosecutor, you can request that a senior public prosecutor reviews it.
If the public prosecutor determines that the preliminary investigation shows that there is sufficient evidence for a court of law to be able to convict the suspect, prosecution will be started. Then it is the court’s task to decide, on the basis of what emerges during the hearing, whether it is proven that the defendant has committed the crime in question. The court will also decide what sanction the offender is to be sentenced to, and at the same time decide the amount of damages the offender is to pay to you.
In some cases, the suspect may receive a punishment without a foregoing trial. This could be the case if the suspect is young, or if the crime is of a less serious nature and the offender has admitted the crime. This is called a summary imposition of a fine. The offender may still be liable to pay damages to you.
Mediation means that the crime victim and the offender meet to talk about the criminal deed with an impartial mediator present. If the offender is under the age of 21, the municipality has to provide mediation.
Mediation can only take place if the offender has admitted the crime and both parties want to take part. Mediation may lead to an agreement being drawn up, for instance, on how the parties are to act towards each other in the event of future contacts. This may offer the crime victim some security. However, agreements about financial compensation for injuries may lead to problems, especially if the amounts are large or if the criminal deed has caused personal injuries. If you enter an agreement regarding financial compensation you may lose the right to criminal injuries compensation.