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World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems: Sweden

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1993
This overview of Sweden's criminal justice system encompasses political and legal systems, the nature and extent of crime, victims, law enforcement, the prosecutorial and judicial process, the judicial system, penalties and sentencing, and extradition and treaties.

The Parliament is the most influential branch of the national government in Sweden. The legal system is accusatorial, with a prosecutor representing the state and a defense attorney representing the defendant. The Swedish Penal Code does not differentiate between crimes and infractions, and the age of criminal responsibility is 15 years. Crime statistics for 1993 indicate 173 homicides, 2,153 rapes, 155,704 burglaries, 61,141 car thefts, and 40,700 drug law violations were reported. Victim studies show groups most vulnerable groups include young men exposed to street violence, single mothers of young children who are subject to violence in the home, and certain professional groups such as police officers and medical staff who are subject to violence at work. Sweden has victim assistance agencies, but the victim has no role in the legal process of prosecution and sentencing. The police system is organized according to the National Police Board, county administrative boards, county police commissioners, and police authorities and police areas. Police officer duties are defined in terms of the use of force, suspect apprehension, arrest procedures, and search and seizure. The prosecutorial and judicial process is concerned with rights of the accused and procedures for bringing suspects to trial. The judicial system is based on a three-tiered hierarchy of general courts, district courts, and appellate courts and the Supreme Court. Sentences are determined by courts after a finding of guilt, and penalties include imprisonment, fines, suspended sentences, probation, and special treatment. Swedish law permits the extradition of criminals under certain circumstances. 17 references

Date Published: June 1, 1993