In March, Nora Magone and Janis Baumanis, the advisers of the Department of Criminal Cases, attended the meetings of regional court judges to discuss issues related to the examination of cases under the settlement procedure.

On March 8, advisers were invited to a meeting organized by Riga Regional Court, attended by judges of the Collegium of Criminal Cases of Riga Regional Court, district court judges from Riga judicial district and representatives from the State Police, whereas on March 15 – to a meeting organized by Kurzeme Regional Court in which judges of the Collegium of Criminal Cases of Kurzeme Regional Court and district court judges of Kurzeme judicial district participated.

The legal research counsels of the Department of Criminal Cases discussed the reasons for the annulment of first instance court rulings reviewed in the Supreme Court in 2018. Judgments of the first instance courts, by which the agreement concluded between the prosecutor and the accused for the recognition of guilt and punishment was approved, as well as rulings of the first instance, which were the subject of protests or applications under Chapter 62 or 63 of the Criminal Procedure Law, were discussed.

In 2018, 65 applications or protests were filed under Chapter 63 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Court rulings were annulled in 55 cases. The advisers of the Department of Criminal Cases indicated three main reasons for the annulment of rulings.

First, the application of Section 55, Paragraph five of the Criminal Law. Until January 1, 2018, the Criminal Law stipulated that in case a suspended sentence is imposed the additional sentences may be imposed, with the exception of probation supervision. By the Law of June 8, 2017 “Amendments to the Criminal Law” Section 55, Paragraph five of the Criminal Law is expressed in a new wording, namely, when imposing a suspended sentence, additional sentences may be imposed. Additional sentence – probation supervision – is executed only if the court decides to execute the basic sentence specified in the judgment. In applying Section 55, Paragraph five of the Criminal Law, Clause 1 of the Transitional Provisions of the Law adopted on June 8, 2017, as well as Section 5, Paragraph one of the Criminal Law shall be observed.

Another mistake is the imposition of forced labour for the disabled.

Third reason is errors in cumulation of sentences. Namely, when imposing a final sentence in accordance with Section 50, Paragraph five or Section 51 of the Criminal Law, a sentence imposed by another court judgement is added, which has already been taken into account when imposing a final sentence in another criminal case.

In 2018 and in the beginning of 2019, judgments of first instance courts were annulled in 20 criminal cases, where the agreement between the prosecutor and the accused for the recognition of guilt and punishment was concluded in the first instance court. The main reasons for the annulment are the misapplication of Section 55, Paragraph five of the Criminal Law and errors in the cumulation of sentences. In addition, the part of unserved sentence was wrongly established when applying Section 51 of the Criminal Law for the determination of a final sentence, as well as the fact that the application for compensation for damages submitted to the court by the victim has not been taken into consideration. Namely, if the application is submitted at the time when the criminal case regarding the pre-trial agreement is in court, the court must provide an opportunity to conclude an additional agreement between the prosecutor and the accused on the amount of damages and their compensation until the beginning of the judicial investigation.

Likewise, the common reason for the annulment of a judgment of the court of first instance is the disagreement on special confiscation of the property belonging to the accused. Finally, failure to comply with the 10-day time limit specified in Section 5401 of the Criminal Procedure Law, during which the prosecutor, the accused, the advocate and the victim have the right to file a rejection to the composition of judicial panel and submit objections to examination of a case in written proceedings.

The Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court has been cooperating with regional courts for several years. This is done for the sake of uniformity of case-law and quality of administration of justice.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211