17 April, 2008
The Division of Case-law of the Supreme Court has published analysis of the court practice prepared in cooperation with the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate regarding criminal cases in which verdicts of guilty have been passed instead of reversed verdicts of not guilty, and verdicts of not guilty – instead of reversed verdicts of guilty. The main conclusion: when dealing with issues of qualification of criminal offences, the initiators of the proceedings have to use more widely the cognitions included in the case-law which contain indication to a correct settlement of the mentioned issues.
During the research 208 court rulings in criminal cases were analyzed which were heard in 34 Latvian courts in the first instance, which became effective in the period from 2004 till 2007, as well as the court rulings of the appellate instance and cassation instance in these criminal cases. The mentioned court rulings relate to 257 persons regarding who a verdict of not guilty was passed in one of the court instances.
In 112 court rulings, in relation to 139 persons verdicts of not guilty were passed which later on were reversed and verdicts of guilty were adopted. And, in 65 court rulings in relation to 77 persons verdicts of guilty have been reversed and verdicts of not guilty have been passed. In the other cases of acquittal or sentencing the criminal proceedings have been terminated, a verdict of not guilty has been left unchanged, a person has been sentenced, acquitted and sentenced once more.
According to the program of the research, the observance of the standards of the Criminal Procedure Law and the Latvian Criminal Procedure Code during the process of proving and evaluation of evidence, the compliance of the court rulings with the standards of the substantial and procedural law was studied. The research consists of two parts: the first – court rulings under which the accused have been sentenced or acquitted without grounds due to erroneous interpretation of contents of the standards of the General Part or the Special Part of the Criminal Law, the second – court rulings in which the basis for sentencing – acquittal and acquittal – sentencing was the evaluation of evidence.
It was concluded that one of the main causes which determines that a person is sentenced and afterwards acquitted or vice versa is the non-observance of the requirements enclosed in the standards which is characteristic for both the pre-trial criminal proceedings when the initiator of the proceedings obtains and confirms the data on the facts which would be used in the court as evidence, and in the course of the proceedings in the first instance court and the appellate instance court while evaluating the evidence and deciding on the question whether the guilt of the accused in a criminal offence has been proved and a verdict of guilty has to be passed, or there are grounds to pass a verdict of not guilty.
The results of the summary were discussed in the seminar for the judges of the regional courts in December 2007. The summary is published on the website of the Supreme Court in the section Court information/Summary of the court practice.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 7020396, 28652211