25 February, 2014
Latvian case-law on recognition of invasion of right to termination of proceedings in reasonable term and on action options, when establishing this invasion, is not uniform – research of the Supreme Court regarding reasonable terms of criminal proceedings and results of inobservance of those concludes.
It is established that in comparable circumstances violations of reasonable terms have been both recognised and rejected, however, in case, when violation is stated, different legal solutions are applied. In 77 per cent of all cases established, when individual’s right to termination of proceedings in reasonable term was invaded, court’s action was either release from punishment or “softened” punishment. In most cases, courts choose to apply less punishment within sanction limits.
In many cases, imperfections of motivation are established in court rulings, namely, if invasion of right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term is recognised or not, and, if recognised, why concrete model of action of a court is applied.
Authors of research also indicate that courts make little use of institution of ancillary decisions as opportunity not only to react to concrete violations, but also to decrease violations in future. In each case, when invasion of right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term is established, it is necessary to assess action of the official, who is to blame for violation.
Compilation of court decisions was prepared by doctors of law Arija Meikalisa and Kristine Strada-Rozenberga, professors of the Criminal Law Department of the University of Latvia, and conclusions and recommendations following from that are accepted at meeting of senators of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court.
Compilation contains analysis of more than 250 rulings, which became effective since July 1, 2010. Among those, 72 were rulings, where courts had not recognized invasion of right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term, and more than 170 different judgements and decisions about termination of criminal proceedings, in which violation was established.
Authors point out – although right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term as fundamental principle of criminal procedure was included in the Criminal Procedure Law in 2005 already, termination of criminal proceedings grounding on Section 14, Paragraph Five, of this law did not exceed couple of cases per year. New case-law was marked on July 1, 2009, when amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law became effective, stating that violation of reasonable terms may serve as ground to release individual from criminal responsibility and to terminate criminal proceedings. Respective amendments to the Criminal Law were made in 2010 and became effective on January 1, 2011. Supplementing the Criminal Law with Section 491 and amending Section 58, opportunity is envisaged, when establishing violation of right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term, both to release person from criminal responsibility and punishment and to lessen punishment imposed.
Research “Case-law on right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term and determination of punishment, if right to termination of criminal proceedings in reasonable term are not observed” is available on the web site of the Supreme Court www.at.gov.lv in Judicature section in Compilations of Court Decisions, section Criminal Law. You may read it here
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
E-mail: email@example.com, telephone: 67020396, 28652211