Sanctions and sentences

In most cases, the court decides on penalties. In certain cases, the prosecutor may also decide on prohibitions and penalties.

Restraining orders are issued by prosecutors

A restraining order may be granted if there is a clear and present risk that someone will harass, stalk or commit a crime against another named individual. This decision rests with the prosecutor.

The subject of a restraining order is prohibited from visiting, calling or in any other way contacting the individual to whom the order applies.

The prosecutor shall make a risk assessment on a case-by-case basis regarding the likelihood of a future offence, stalking or serious harassment. This should be weighed against the consequences for the person who is to be subjected to the prohibition.

If you do not agree with the prosecutor’s decision concerning a restraining order, you may ask the court to decide on the matter. This applies both to a decision to issue a restraining order and a decision not to do so and both parties retain the right to request a decision.

A fine may be summarily imposed for certain crimes when the suspect has admitted the offence

An investigation will not always lead to an indictment and trial, even if the prosecutor believes that there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed. If the suspect admits the offence and it is clear what the punishment will be, the prosecutor may impose what is called summary imposition of a fine.

The summary imposition of a fine has the same effect as a conviction and it will appear on the offender’s criminal record. The difference is that the prosecutor will not take proceedings and there will be no trial.

When a summary imposition of a fine is filed, a form is sent to the suspect’s home address, who then admits to the offence and accepts the punishment by signing the form. This is voluntary and the suspect may choose to allow the prosecutor to take proceedings and have the case tried in court.

A summary imposition of a fine is an option for crimes that carry a penalty of a fine and/or a suspended sentence; for example, theft, petty theft and traffic offences.

Conditional sentence

A conditional sentence may be given instead of a prison sentence, meaning that the convicted individual is given a probationary period without supervision. If the person commits another offence during this time, the probationary period may be extended or another penalty may be imposed. A conditional sentence may be combined with other penalties, such as a day fine or community service.

Community service instead of prison

Community service means that the convicted individual is permitted to perform practical, unpaid socially useful work instead of being in prison. The courts may sentence someone to community service for an offence that would otherwise have resulted in up to one year in prison. If the convicted individual fails to complete the community service in an acceptable manner, for example by attending the workplace under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a prison sentence may be imposed instead.

Day fines and fines are the most lenient penalties

Fines are the most lenient penalties available to the courts. There are two main groups of fines: day fines and fines.

Day fines are determined at a certain number of days income depending on the severity of the offence and so reflect the individual’s personal finances. Day fines may be imposed for offences such as petty theft and unlawful driving.

Fines are determined at a fixed sum and may, for example, be imposed for many traffic offences. A breach-of-regulations fine may be issued by police or customs officers.

A prison sentence may be for anything from 14 days to life

The length of the sentence largely depends on how serious the court judges the crime to be. All crimes have a range of punishment that states the minimum and maximum possible penalty for that particular crime. The court considers the punishment in each individual case, giving due consideration to the specific circumstances of that case, such as aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The age of the convicted individual will also be taken into account, with juveniles sentenced to shorter prison sentences than adults.

A life sentence has no time limit and the convicted individual therefore will not know how long the period in prison will last. Someone sentenced to life imprisonment can apply to have the sentence fixed after a minimum of 10 years. If the district court agrees, the minimum fixed sentence is 18 years.

Some crimes are graded

Some, but not all, crimes are graded in severity; for example, an assault may be deemed to be minor, causing actual bodily harm, causing grievous bodily harm or to be exceptionally serious. The penalty will vary depending on how the assault is assessed. The penalty for minor assault ranges from a fine to six months imprisonment. Exceptionally serious assault carries a sentence of between five and ten years in prison.

The Swedish Police keep a register of criminal records.