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Published: 10 June 2014

Number of criminal cases decided by district courts decreased further

According to Statistics Finland, a total of 60,700 penal cases were decided by district courts in 2013, which is 2,900 fewer cases than one year ago. A total of 48,200 criminal cases against the Penal Code were decided and 1,000 criminal cases against other acts and decrees. In addition, district courts decided 11,500 other penal cases. There were 73,000 defendants in penal cases that appeared before district courts.

Penal cases decided by district courts in 2011 to 2013

Penal cases decided by district courts in 2011 to 2013

Traffic offences were handled most by district courts and they represented 31 per cent of all criminal cases. The number of traffic offences decreased by 11 per cent from the previous year. All of the largest traffic offence groups decreased in 2013. Drunken driving cases declined by 11 per cent, aggravated drunken driving cases by 12 per cent, waterway, air or rail traffic drunkenness by 27 per cent, and endangering of traffic safety by 19 per cent. Only aggravated endangering of traffic safety remained on the 2012 level.

District courts processed two per cent fewer offences against property than last year. In absolute numbers, petty thefts increased most and in relative terms, smuggling and aggravated forgery increased most. The two biggest groups of offences against property, theft and fraud, decreased.

Crimes against life and health declined by six per cent. This was mainly caused by a decrease in assault crimes (including petty and aggravated assault). The number of sexual crimes also decreased in district courts, which was caused by the number of rapes falling by more than one-fifth. However, the number of cases involving sexual abuse of a child remained at the same level as in 2012. Narcotics offences (including manufacturing and use) increased, although aggravated narcotics offences diminished.

The share of jurors has decreased further, 93 per cent of decisions in judge compositions or in writing

In district court, the main hearing of criminal cases can be carried out in a juror composition, a composition of one judge or a composition of three judges. The number of juror proceedings has decreased considerably over the past years. As a result of a legislative amendment that entered into force at the beginning of 2009, jurors only participate in the processing of more serious crimes and crimes of high social importance. In 2013, altogether 3,900 cases, or six per cent of criminal cases at district courts, were decided in a juror composition. For example, all manslaughter cases, 96 per cent of cases involving sexual abuse of a child, and 94 per cent of destructions were decided in a juror composition. Handling of cases in a juror composition took, on average, 5.3 months.

Decision compositions of criminal cases decided by district courts in 2002 to 2013

Decision compositions of criminal cases decided by district courts in 2002 to 2013

A majority of criminal cases at district courts are decided in a composition of one judge. In 2013, these cases totalled 39,200, or 65 per cent of all cases. With one judge processing, the handling of a case took, on average, 4.1 months.

A total of 17,400 cases, or 29 per cent of all criminal cases were decided in written proceedings. Usually, written proceedings can in criminal cases be used in less serious and ordinary crimes. The precondition is that the defendant has plead guilty and agreed on written proceedings. Written proceedings are particularly used in traffic offences. In 2013, altogether 78 per cent of waterway, air or rail traffic drunkenness cases, 67 per cent of drunken driving cases, 60 per cent of aggravated drunken driving cases, and 57 per cent of cases involving aggravated endangering of traffic safety were settled in written proceedings. Also, more than one-half of smuggling and petty theft cases were handled in written proceedings. Processing of criminal cases decided in written proceedings took 1.9 months, on average.

Altogether, 50 per cent of penal cases handled by district courts were completed within less than two months. In 13 per cent of cases, the process lasted over six months. On average, cases were decided in district courts in 3.5 months. The overall processing time in criminal cases – the time from when the crime was committed to when the district court gave its decision – was 10.8 months, on average.


Source: Justice Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Heli Hiltunen 029 551 3314, oikeus@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

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Updated 10.6.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Decisions by district courts in criminal cases [e-publication].
ISSN=2342-3951. 2013. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.2.2024].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/koikrr/2013/koikrr_2013_2014-06-10_tie_001_en.html