Criminal law deals with offences ranging from minor infringements such as failure to stop at a red light to serious offences such as drug trafficking, theft and murder. Cases are brought before the courts by the Public Prosecution Service.
Powerful Criminal Defence
MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, has a great deal of expertise to offer adequate legal assistance within the field of General Criminal Law, Economic Offences, Financial Criminal Law, Criminal Tax Law, Fraud and Bribery, Environmental Criminal Law, Occupational accidents and diseases and Employment related criminal law.
Powerful Criminal Defence
MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, assists suspects during questioning by the law enforcement authorities, provides support during searches, maintains contact with the the law enforcement authorities and the public prosecutor and seeks possibilities to close the criminal prosecution, preferably without having to go to trial.
The police can arrest someone who is suspected of committing a criminal offence and question him. In the Netherlands, a suspect can be held without charge for questioning as part of an investigation for up to six (6) hours. If someone is arrested for the purpose of establishing his or her identity, the period can be extended once, by another six (6) hours. The suspect has the right to consult an attorney for half an hour before being questioned by the police for the first time. While he is being detained as part of an investigation, he can also ask the police if he can contact his attorney. A suspect who is a minor also has the right to ask for an attorney or confidential adviser to be present while he or she is being questioned.
If six (6) hours proves insufficient for the purposes of investigation, the assistant public prosecutor may order the suspect to be remanded in police custody for a maximum of three (3) days. To obtain a further 3-day extension of this period, the suspect must be brought before the public prosecutor. After the period of remand in police custody, the public prosecutor may apply to the examining magistrate for an order to remand the suspect in custody. This order means that the suspect can be held for a period of fourteen (14) days. At the end of this period, the public prosecutor can apply to the district court for a detention order for a period not exceeding ninety (90) days. The total time spent in pre-trial detention may not exceed hundred and ten (110) days.
Once the investigation has been concluded, the public prosecutor may decide to prosecute a suspect. In this case, the suspect will be issued with a notice of summons and accusation, detailing the precise charges against him as well as his rights. It also states when and where the district court will hear the case. The public prosecutor may also decide not to prosecute, for example if there is insufficient evidence against the suspect.
At the hearing, the court either acquits or convicts the defendant, or discharges him from prosecution on a point of law. When someone is convicted, a sentence, such as a fine, an alternative sanction, or a term of imprisonment, or a non-punitive order will be imposed. Furthermore, the person then has a criminal record for a specified period of time.
Appeal or final and unappealable judgment
Someone who has been convicted and wishes to challenge the court’s judgment can lodge an appeal if the law permits. If an appeal is possible, the person who has been convicted (or his attorney) must lodge an appeal with the court registrar within 14 days. The appeals procedure is free of charge.
The administrative body has plans to ensure that anyone who has been convicted of a serious crime of violence or a sex offence will not be released while an appeal is still pending.
On appeal, a different (higher) court reviews the case. This court may convict or acquit the person previously convicted, or discharge him from prosecution on a point of law. Someone who has been convicted can only lodge an appeal once. After that the option remains of lodging an appeal in cassation with the Supreme Court, if the law permits.
The public prosecutor too may appeal the district court’s judgment. If this happens, the defendant will be notified and summonsed again to appear in court.
Victims and witnesses
Victims or witnesses of a crime also find themselves having to deal with the criminal justice authorities. For instance, they may need to lodge a criminal complaint, or to make a statement.
Victims of a crime
If perpetrators are to be brought to justice, it is important for the victims to go to the police as soon as possible to lodge a criminal complaint. They can do so at the police station, or in the case of minor offences by telephone or online. Once a suspect has been found, the Public Prosecution Service takes over. Suspects are questioned, and if there is due cause, they will be held in pre-trial detention and prosecuted.
The rights of victims in criminal proceedings
The Dutch administrative body is working to strengthen the rights of victims in criminal proceedings. One way of doing so is to give victims the right to information, both about the proceedings and about the scope for claiming damages. In addition, victims and surviving relatives have the right to be treated with respect, to be given the assistance of an interpreter and/or attorney, and in certain cases to present their point of view in court. These rights are laid down in the Victims’ Status (Legal Proceedings) Act.
The administrative body’s plans include an undertaking to strengthen the position of the victims of crime. Victim support is to be improved. Besides this, a provision for the seizure of assets is to be introduced in criminal law. This will enable the police to seize money and goods from those suspected of a serious crime at an early stage of an investigation. These assets can subsequently be used, following a final and unappealable conviction, to compensate the victims for damage suffered.
Witnesses of criminal offences
In some cases, the police will ask someone who has witnessed a criminal offence to make a statement. You can present yourself as a witness and give as many details as possible. Ask the police officer for his name, so that you can phone him if you suddenly remember something you forgot in your statement. During proceedings the court may also wish to hear witnesses. Witnesses who have been summonsed are obliged to appear and to tell the truth; failure to do so is a criminal offence. Witnesses who believe that they are at risk can ask to be excused from attending.
If the police have found a suspect, they may ask witnesses to make additional statements.
Disposal of cases by the Public Prosecution Service (OM): penalties imposed by the OM
In the Netherlands, the Public Prosecution Service has the authority to impose penalties for a number of common criminal offences. The Public Prosecution Service may not impose custodial (i.e. prison) sentences. Municipal authorities and special enforcement officers also have the authority to impose penalties of this kind. They can issue an administrative penalty for antisocial behaviour; for instance, they can fine someone for noise nuisance. They can also issue a ‘police penalty’ for so-called ‘P offences’, which are offences like speeding that used to be punished with on-the-spot fines.
The Public Prosecution Service may impose a range of penalties. Examples include:
- a fine;
- an alternative sanction (of up to 180 hours);
- a driving ban (of up to 6 months);
- payment of compensation to the victim;
- an anti-social behaviour or intervention order (such as football banning order or mandatory participation in a drug rehabilitation programme).
How MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, can help
MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, has a great deal of expertise to offer adequate legal assistance within the field of General Criminal Law, Economic Offences, Financial Criminal Law, Criminal Tax Law, Environmental Offences, Fraud and Bribery, and Internal Investigations and Audits.
General criminal law is a collective name for all crimes and offences laid down in the Dutch Criminal Code and a few additional laws.
The Dutch Economic Offences Act (WED) provides for criminal prosecution of breaches of regulations contained in specific regulatory legislation. These include the regulations in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act, the General Customs Act and the Sanctions Act. Prosecutions under the Dutch Economic Offences Act (WED) are also possible in the event of breaches of legislation on strategic goods (dual use), licensing regulations for imports and exports, and transactions involving countries or individuals subject to sanctions.
It is not rare for banks and financial institutions to come into conflict with the Dutch financial criminal law. They are confronted with a complicated legal framework of laws, recommendations, guidelines and suchlike and are regularly under criminal investigation due to a violation of these rules. Allegations of offences under the Dutch financial criminal law may concern the use of insider knowledge of IPOs or secondary share offerings, prospectus fraud, or other acts that are punishable under the financial supervision law.
Involvement with tax criminal law can arise if an incorrect tax return is examined by the tax inspector who then chooses to hand the relevant file over to the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), rather than imposing an administrative penalty. This often leads to a criminal investigation into the possibility of tax fraud.
Environmental criminal law is increasingly attracting more attention now the protection of the environment gains (political) ground. Companies and individuals are being prosecuted for environmental offences ever more frequently. Dutch environmental criminal law is nevertheless a very specialised sector of the Dutch criminal law, having its roots in an abundance of laws, guidelines and directives.
MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, has gained a great deal of expertise in violations of the Road Traffic and Traffic Signals Regulations and the Road Traffic Act, driving bans, aptitude tests and suchlike.
Labor law is now a major source of criminal liability for companies, its legal representative and management. In order to enable you to assess the risks incurred in the course of doing business, to identify and manage risky behavior and, finally, to assist you in dealing with prosecution authorities, MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, has created a division dedicated to employment related criminal law, combining the expertise of lawyers experienced in criminal litigation and corporate consulting.
Companies are often helpless when it comes to dealing with the consequences of an occupational injury, as they have little control over all the issues involved. To help you resolve these issues, MR. VAN LEEUWEN (LL.M., ESQ), attorney at law, has set up an expert team of lawyers who have gone through specific training, have a forensic background, dedicated digital tools and day-to-day practice. He helps clients deploy management tools, and provide strategic advice and defense in case of litigation. He is particularly recognized for their work in one-off transactions: company takeovers, defense against claims for inexcusable conduct, risk assessment, negotiation, and coordination with criminal proceedings.