Young offenders

A young offender is a person who is at least fifteen but under twentyone years old at the time of commission of the offence.

When a young offender is found guilty of an offence, for which he or she may be sentenced to imprisonment, an account of his or her personal circumstances shall be acquired, if possible. When imposing a conditional prison sentence, the district court must take a stand on whether the young offender should be placed under supervision.

Offenders under 15 years old

The acts committed by a person younger than fifteen do not come to trial and the person is not sentenced to a punishment. It is a matter for the social welfare authorities and the police to direct such a person towards a life without crime.

Offenders at least 15 and less than 17 years old

When a person between 15 and 17 years of age is being sentenced, a reduction rule is applied to the sentence, to the effect that the punishment is at most three fourths (3/4) of the punishment that would be imposed on an adult offender. A person under 18 is not normally ordered to serve a prison term in custody, but the sentence is suspended. The person may also be granted a waiver of punishment, if the court deems that he or she will reform himself or herself even without a penalty.

Juvenile punishment

A juvenile punishment for 4 to 12 months may be imposed for an offence committed by a person under 18 years of age. The purpose of a juvenile punishment is to prevent further crimes and to promote the social rehabilitation of the offender.

Juvenile punishment does not include imprisonment, but the convicted is under supervision the whole time he or she serves the punishment. The juvenile service consists of supervised activities and programmes intended to improve the community skills of the convicted as well as support and guidance in connection to these. The juvenile punishment also includes monitored unpaid work and an orientation to working life and work. Also the use of drugs is controlled. The enforcement of the sentence is administered by The Criminal Sanctions Agency.

If the convicted breaches the conditions and regulations of the juvenile punishment or commits new crimes he or she may be sentenced to another punishment, for instance conditional imprisonment. Youth criminal matters must be processed without delay.

Young offenders liability in damages

Liability in damages does not turn on whether the offender has been convicted or sentenced to a punishment. The offender is liable to compensate for the damage caused through the offence. This rule applies also to under-15’s. The liability in damages may, however, be adjusted, if the circumstances are such that the imposition of full liability on a minor would be unreasonable.

Juvenile Punishment, Criminal Sanctions Agency

Published 8.9.2017