Coercive measures

Various coercive measures can be used for securing the criminal investigation, the trial and the enforcement of a sentence.

The police decides on the use of many coercive measures. These include apprehension, arrest, recording of personal identifying characteristic, seizure, and search.

Coercive measures that require a decision of the district court are remand, travel ban imposed instead of remand, prohibition on alienation, confiscation for security, and permission for traffic data monitoring, telecommunications interception and technical surveillance.

Remand

A person suspected with probable cause of an offence may be remanded, if

  • the minimum punishment provided for the offence is imprisonment for at least two years, or
  • the maximum punishment provided for the offence is imprisonment for at least one year and there is reason to believe that the suspect will escape, hamper the investigation of the matter or continue his or her criminal activity.

Remand for probable cause is possible also in certain other special cases, e.g. if the suspect lies about his name or address or refuses to supply the same.

Suspicion with probable cause means that it is more probable that the suspect is guilty than that he or she is not guilty. Remand is possible also when the prerequisites referred to above are met but there is not yet a probable cause, as long as there is reason to suspect ("lower suspicion threshold") that the person has committed the offence. In this event, there is an additional prerequisite, namely that it can be anticipated that evidence in support of the suspicion will be obtained.

No one shall be remanded or held on remand if this would be unreasonable in view of the nature of the matter, the age of the person, or his or her other personal circumstances.

Normally, the decision on remand is made by the district court of the place of commission of the suspected offence. The police must file an application for the remand of a criminal suspect under arrest no later than on the third day after the apprehension of the suspect. The application shall be dealt with without delay and on the fourth day after the apprehension at the latest. Because of the urgency of remand matters, the district courts operate a system of on-call judges; the application may also be dealt with by a district court other than that of the place of commission of the suspected offence.

A criminal suspect who is under arrest is brought to the remand hearing, where he or she is ordered either to be remanded or to be released. If the suspect is not under arrest, he or she is normally given an opportunity to appear in the hearing to contest the application. A suspect absent from the hearing may be ordered to be remanded regardless of the absence. In such a case, a warrant of apprehension concerning the person is issued.

If a criminal suspect has been remanded because there is reason to suspect him or her and evidence (for example, laboratory results) in support of the suspicion is anticipated, the matter shall be brought to a re-hearing within one week of the earlier decision on remand. If, at this time, there is no evidence in support of the suspicion, the remanded person shall be released at once.

When a criminal suspect is ordered to be remanded, the court sets a deadline for the bringing of the charge. Where necessary, this deadline may be extended on the request of the prosecutor.

On the request of the remanded person, the district court shall re-hear the remand matter within four days of the request, however, not earlier than two weeks after the previous hearing. The matter shall be re-heard also when there, for instance in connection to a new investigation, appears grounds for it.

Travel ban

A person suspected with probable cause of an offence may be subjected to a travel ban, if the maximum punishment provided for the offence is imprisonment for at least one year and it is probable that the suspect will escape, hamper the investigation of the matter or continue his or her criminal activity. Usually, a travel ban is imposed by a police officer, but the district court may also order in a remand hearing that the person shall be subject to a travel ban instead of being remanded.

An area that the suspect is not allowed to leave is determined in a travel ban. A person subject to a travel ban may also be obliged to be available for visits in his or her home or workplace at given times, to report to the police at regular intervals, or to stay at an institution or hospital. If a person subject to a travel ban violates the ban, he or she may be arrested and remanded.

Restraint on alienation and seizure for escrow

The district court may impose a prohibition on alienation on property that belongs

  • to a person suspected with probable cause of an offence, or
  • another person who may be ordered to pay compensation or forfeit money to the state because of an offence.

It is a prerequisite for a prohibition on alienation that the person is suspected of trying to avoid the payment of a fine, compensation or forfeit by concealing or destroying property, by absconding or by some other means.

A prohibition on alienation may not cover more property than that corresponding to the amount of the fine, compensation or forfeit. A prohibition on alienation means that the owner is not entitled to sell or otherwise convey the property subject to the prohibition. The enforcement authorities are responsible for the enforcement of the prohibition.

If a prohibition on alienation is considered an inadequate method for securing payment, the movable property of the person may be confiscated for security, in which event it is taken into the possession of the enforcement authorities.

Telecommunications interception, traffic data monitoring and technical surveillance

Telecommunications interception means the secret listening to and recording of a message sent to or transmitted from a subscription (for example telephone or mobile telephone), email address or device in the possession or use of a suspected offender in order to determine the contents of the message.

Traffic data monitoring means the obtaining of secret identifying data (for example telephone numbers) regarding a message that has been sent from or received by a subscription, address or device in the possession or use of the suspect. Information about the location of a mobile device can also be obtained. In traffic data monitoring, the subscription may also be temporarily disconnected. On the consent of an injured party, traffic data monitoring may also be directed at a subscription in the possession or use of the injured party.

Technical surveillance means listening to, watching or following a suspected offender by means of technical devices.

The district court may grant the police permission to use such coercive measures, if there is reason to suspect the person of certain serious offences listed in chapter 10 of the Coercive Measures Act (860/2011). A warrant for traffic data monitoring may be issued, for example, if there is reason to suspect the person of

  • an offence for which the maximum punishment provided is imprisonment for at least four years,
  • an offence against an IT system by way of a data terminal, or
  • a narcotics offence, pandering, or preparation of an offence committed with terrorist intent.

Moreover, it is a prerequisite of telecommunications interception, traffic data monitoring and technical surveillance that the information gained may be expected to be very important for the investigation of the offence.

 
Published 25.7.2019