Monday, November 24, 2014 - 11:58
Prosecutors tougher than judges on sentencing
The Public Prosecutor punishes minor offenses such as drug possession, theft and vandalism more severely than the courts. Increasingly often the Public Prosecutor self determines the punishment for common crime, in which it uses more severe guidelines than a judge. "The punishment used by the Public Prosecutor, is actually meant as a sentence demand in court. Higher, knowing that the judge often weakens it. If the Public Prosecutor use these guidelines to consistently set punishment itself, legal inequality lurks", says Jan Crijns, professor of criminal law and procedure at the University of Leiden. This is called the ZSM-method - as Fast, Smart, Selective, Simple, Together and Society Focused as Possible. This accelerated judgement was introduced in 2013 to cut back on the expensive and slow legal system. Where suspects previously often had to wait months for a trial, the prosecutor now decides, often on the day of arrest, what will happen to the case - won't be prosecuted, pick a date for a trial or directly impose a fine or community service through a punishment order. Within this process the so-called punishment order is by far the most commonly used punishment. This may however have major implications for s suspect. By paying a punishment order, a suspect admits that he is guilty and immediately receives a criminal record. In 2013 more than 20 thousand suspects got a punishment order in the initial assessment.