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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The judicial system of Sweden consists of the law of Sweden and a number of government agencies tasked with upholding security and the rule of law within the country.[1] The activities of these agencies include police and law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and prisons and other correctional services.

A Swedish law book

Sweden has a civil law system with laws created by the Parliament of Sweden.

Contents

Law enforcement

Two Swedish police cars

The main body for law enforcement in Sweden is the Swedish Police Service. The entire police service is under the national government; since January 1, 1965, there is no municipal police in Sweden.

Prosecution

Swedish prosecutors are lawyers who are employed by the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Åklagarmyndigheten) and who direct the work of the police in cases concerning severe criminality. In all criminal cases, the prosecutors make decisions concerning arrests and charges on behalf of the public, and are the only public officials who can make such decisions - there is a possibility, rarely used, for private individuals to present a private prosecution (enskilt åtal) as well. (The exception is cases concerning crimes against the freedom of the press, for which the Chancellor of Justice acts as prosecutor.) In court, the prosecutor is not necessarily in an adversarial relationship to the defendant, but is under an obligation to investigate and present information which is to the advantage of the defendant as well as to his or her disadvantage. He is not a member of the bench, nor does he participate in the private deliberations of the court.

The prosecutor is also the only public official who can decide to appeal cases to courts of appeal. (As well as the defence, victims, their representatives and other parties to the case (målsäganden) can also appeal.) When a case has been decided by a court of appeal, the right to appeal to the Supreme Court passes from the prosecutor of the individual case to the Prosecutor General (Riksåklagaren).

Courts

The courts are divided into two parallel and separate systems, general courts (allmänna domstolar) for criminal and civil cases, and general administrative courts (allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar) for administrative cases.[2] Each of these system has three tiers, where the top tier court of the respective system typically only will hear cases that may become precedent.

The seat of the Supreme Court of Sweden, in Stockholm.

General courts:

The County Administrative Court in Gothenburg.

General administrative courts:

Sävsjö courthouse, Småland. One of many closed down courts in Sweden.

There are also a number of special courts, which will hear a narrower set of cases, as set down by legislation. While independent in their rulings, some of these courts are operated as divisions within courts of the general or general administrative courts. The special courts usually have a one-tier or two-tier system.

  • Environmental courts (miljödomstolar): five first-tier courts (in five district courts) and one second-tier court (in one court of appeals, Svea hovrätt)
  • Property courts (fastighetsdomstolar), at least one per county (in the district courts), with all the courts of appeals being second-tier courts.
  • Migration courts (migrationsdomstolar): three first-tier courts (in three county administrative courts) and one second-tier court (in one administrative court of appeals, in Stockholm)
  • The Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen)
  • The Market Court (Marknadsdomstolen)
  • The Court of Patent Appeals (Patentbesvärsrätten)

A number of tribunals (nämnder) are also very similar to special courts in the way they operate:

  • Regional rent tribunals (hyresnämnder), of which there are eight, within district courts.
  • Regional tenancy tribunals (arrendenämnder), of which there are eight, in the same locations as regional rent tribunals.
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Lay assessors and juries

In first- and second-tier Swedish courts, both in the general and the administrative hierarchy, lay assessors (nämndemän, sometimes also called lay judges) serve as part of the bench in many types of cases, including all criminal cases but virtually no civil cases. The entire bench, lay assessors and professional judge(s) alike, are responsible for the entire verdict of the court. This differs from many jurisdictions with jury systems, where the jury's power is often limited to deciding on a given question, typically whether the defendant in a criminal case is guilty or not. In first-tier courts, the lay assessors are always in the majority, whereas the professional judges are in the majority in the second-tier courts. Lay assessors are laymen appointed by local political assemblies for a period of service at a certain court. The municipal assemblies appoint lay assessors for the district courts and the county council appoint lay assessors for the county administrative courts and the appellate courts. Typically, a lay assessor will serve one day per month in court during his or her tenure. The use of lay assessors in Sweden goes back to Medieval times.

The only type of case when a jury is used is freedom of expression cases, when a 9-member jury provides a pre-screening before the case is ruled by the bench, using the same procedure as for other cases. Thus, the bench can still throw out a case after the jury has ruled on it, but can never convict if the jury acquits.

Prisons and Corrections

A prison in Malmö.

The Prison and Probation Service is the government agency handling prisons in Sweden.

References


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