Coercive Measures

Prosecute or discontinue

Once the investigation has been completed, the prosecutor must decide whether or not to file a prosecution. If the prosecutor decides on objective grounds that there is sufficient evidence that the suspect has committed the crime in question, the prosecutor is duty-bound to prosecute. Before doing so, the prosecutor must be able to foresee a conviction.

Duty to prosecute: the prosecutor’s obligation to file a prosecution

In the case of the vast majority of crimes, the prosecutor has what is known as a duty to prosecute. This means that the prosecutor has an obligation to file a prosecution if she or he deems that there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed and can prove who committed it.

This in turn means that the victim of a crime has no right to decide the course of an investigation; under Swedish law, there is no such thing as “withdrawing a complaint”. It is the prosecutor’s duty to ensure that the crime is investigated, regardless of the opinions of those involved.

Disclosure once the investigation is completed

Once the investigation is completed, the record or notes of the investigation shall be disclosed by the prosecutor to the suspect or the defence counsel. This disclosure includes all of the evidence gathered against the suspect.

In addition to the right to disclosure of all material relating to the investigation, the suspect or the defence counsel may request that the police conduct further inquiries, such as interviewing further witnesses. The prosecutor decides whether such inquiries should be conducted. If the parties fail to reach agreement, the matter may be tried in the district court.

Once the suspect and/or the defence counsel have had sufficient time to read the investigation, the prosecutor will file a prosecution to the district court. At the trial, it is the prosecutor’s task to prove to the court that a crime has been committed.

Decision to discontinue an investigation

If there is insufficient evidence of a crime having been committed, no prosecution can be filed. This may be because the suspect denies the offence and there are no witnesses or forensic evidence to prove otherwise. It may sometimes become apparent during an investigation that it will not be possible to prove that a crime has been committed, in which case the prosecutor will decide to discontinue the investigation. Any such decision has the same legal implications as a decision not to prosecute.

The investigation may be reopened if new information regarding the crime is forthcoming.

The victim of the crime, the injured party, is always informed of the prosecutor’s decision.


A prosecutor’s decision to discontinue an investigation may be reviewed by a Director of Public Prosecution.