25 July, 2008
As of July 11, all the interested persons have access to the study accomplished by the Supreme Court (hereinafter – SC) on the practice of application of punishment, as well as the recommendations expressed by the Department of Criminal Cases and the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court regarding the uniform application of law standards on determination of the punishment.
Both the Department of Criminal Cases as the cassation instance court and the Chamber of Criminal Cases as the appellate instance court in the everyday work faced the problem that the practice of application of punishment differs. The study was carried out to analyze the court practice in this matter.
On April 25 the conference “The policy of application of punishment” was held in the SC in which the Supreme Court presented an extensive study carried out in cooperation with the law specialists on the application of punishment which is implemented by the regional courts as the first instance courts and the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court as the appellate instance court.
The conference was attended by about 200 judges, prosecutors and law specialists who in the course of the conference worked in 3 groups: “General principles of determination of punishment”, “Lawfulness and justice in determination of punishment” and “Determination of punishment for several criminal offences and upon several judgments”. The task of the work groups was to analyze and discuss the recommendations given in the study. In the result of the work, at the end of the conference the work groups presented their opinion regarding the suggestions included in the study and prepared proposals for further activities.
The next step to carry out the study was the approval of the recommendations expressed and accepted at the conference by the joint session of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate and the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court which was convened on July 1. The decision of the joint session approved of 33 most current and essential recommendations, however, the authors of the study submitted even more.
The decision of the joint session is not mandatory, but recommending and when reviewing a case it may be deviated, however, it gives the guidelines and direction to follow when determining punishment in the most typical cases. Although it is not advisable to create a cliché system of application of punishment, the punishment for a particular criminal offence has to be clear not only for the lawyers but for the public, as well.
The most essential in the recommendations expressed at the joint session of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate and the Chamber of Criminal Cases was that the court has to find such a type and measure of punishment which would maximally facilitate the achievement of the goal of the criminal punishment. The application of punishment has to be individual, following the assessment of the nature of the criminal offence, the damage caused, the individuality of the accused, and the circumstances influencing the responsibility.
The study analyzes the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and it is pointed out in the decision of the joint session that none of those may be ignored, it is noted also that a ruling has to contain and analyze all the circumstances found in the case. Any conclusion of the court has to be motivated, and several conclusions may not be grounded by the same motive.
Special attention was paid to such issues as suspended sentence, application of a milder punishment than the law stipulates, determination of punishment for the accomplices.
The study covers the court practice of 2006 and 2007 – the rulings in criminal cases in which 409 individuals were declared guilty by the regional courts as the first instance courts, as well as the rulings of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court Senate in relation to the filed cassation complaints and protests.
The accomplished study and the decision of the joint session may be found on the website of the Supreme Court www.at.gov.lv.
Information prepared by the press secretary of the Supreme Court Linda Priedite
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