Mediation in criminal cases

Mediation in criminal cases is a process in which the victim and the offender are given the opportunity to meet confidentially through the facilitation of an impartial mediator to discuss the psychological and material harm inflicted on the victim by the offence and to help the parties find a mutual solution to redress the harm. Mediation services are provided free of charge.

Mediation can only take place between voluntary parties, and it thus requires their free consent. If one of the parties should withdraw his or her consent, mediation will be discontinued. Assault, theft and criminal damage are the types of crime which are especially well suited for mediation, but other types of crime can also be dealt with through mediation if the crime is assessed as eligible. The more serious the crime, however, the less suitable it is for mediation.

The decision on whether to carry out mediation in a particular case is made by the local mediation office. Cases may be referred to mediation by the offender, the victim, the police or the prosecutor. Only the police or the prosecutor, however, may refer the case to mediation if the victim is a close relation of the offender. Mediation is carried out by a voluntary lay mediator who has received training for the task.

If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator draws up a document on it. In cases of lesser crimes, the agreement may result in discontinuance of the criminal proceedings. The agreement may also at a later stage lead to non-prosecution, waiving of sentence or to a more lenient punishment.

The Act on Conciliation in Criminal and Certain Civil Cases (1015/2005) entered into force on 1 January 2006. Further information on mediation in criminal cases may be obtained from mediation offices and the police authority handling the matter in question.

See also: The National Institute for Health and Welfare's information package on mediation

Published 20.11.2013