Starting an investigation
Prosecute or discontinue

Coercive measures

Coercive measures are any action that imposes some form of constraint on a suspect, such as apprehending someone. The purpose of such measures is to allow the police and prosecutor to investigate or gather evidence that a crime has been committed or planned. Coercive measures may also be imposed once a criminal investigation is completed, so that a trial can be conducted.

The police apprehend a suspect

When the police apprehend someone who is suspected of committing a crime, a report is submitted to the prosecutor. The prosecutor may then decide that the police should interview the suspect. Once this interview has been completed, the prosecutor decides whether the individual should be arrested or released from custody.

Anyone who is apprehended on suspicion of committing a crime has the right to a defence counsel. Before a suspect is interviewed, the prosecutor decides whether it is necessary for the defence counsel to be present during the interview. If the prosecutor deems that the suspect requires a defence counsel, or if she or he so requests, the prosecutor is to submit an application to the court without delay.

Bail does not exist in the Swedish legal system.

The prosecutor issues a warrant of arrest and may apply for the suspect to be remanded in custody

Having arrested a suspect, the prosecutor must submit an application for a remand order to the court no later than 12 o’clock on the third day after the arrest decision. From the time the suspect is apprehended, the court has 96 hours to hold a remand hearing.

If the prosecutor does not apply for a remand order before the stated deadline, the suspect must be released from custody.

Three grounds for remanding a suspect

Under normal circumstances, a decision to remand someone requires that there is probable cause to suspect the individual of an offence that carries a penalty of at least one year’s imprisonment. The prosecutor may decide to detain someone if there is a risk that the person will:

  • flee or otherwise evade legal proceedings or punishment;
  • impede the investigation by, for example, removing evidence or in another way; or
  • continue the criminal activity.

If there is a reasonable risk that the suspect, having been apprehended, arrested and remanded in custody, will impede the inquiry by contacting the victims of crime or witnesses, it is possible for the prosecutor to impose restrictions on the suspect’s contacts with the outside world while they are on remand.

Searches may be made of premises in order to secure evidence or to apprehend a suspect

One investigative measure at the prosecutor's disposal is to search premises. For example, a prosecutor may decide to search premises when there are grounds to suspect that drugs are being sold from someone’s home. The police conduct searches of premises when directed to do so by the prosecutor.

Seizures are made in order to secure evidence or to prevent further crime

When premises are searched, the prosecutor may for example decide to seize certain property that the police find in the possession of the suspect. Seizures may be made to prevent further crimes from being committed or to secure evidence in an ongoing investigation.

A travel ban may be imposed if there is a risk that a suspect will flee

If there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that someone has committed a crime that may result in a prison sentence, the prosecutor may decide to impose a travel ban. A travel ban may be imposed if there is a risk that the suspect will flee or otherwise evade legal proceedings or punishment. In assessing the need for imposing a travel ban, the prosecutor is to consider the suspect’s personal circumstances and the nature of the crime they are suspected of committing.

A travel ban may be imposed, regardless of whether the offence may result in a prison sentence, if there is a risk that the suspect may evade legal proceedings or punishment by leaving the country.

Secret data surveillance and wire tapping are examples of secret coercive measures

Secret coercive measures include the interception and surveillance of electronic communications, secret camera surveillance, bugging and secret data surveillance. A coercive measure is secret when the person subject to the measure is unaware of it.

The use of secret coercive measures requires that the suspected crime can be expected to result in a given level of punishment; for example, wire tapping and surveillance of electronic communications requires that the anticipated punishment for the suspected crime is a prison sentence of at least two years.

It is usually the court that decides whether secret coercive measures can be used.