Preliminary investigation

When the police have recorded the reported crime, the preliminary investigation begins. During the preliminary investigation, the police investigate what has happened and what damages have occurred to the victims of crime. The police will question the victim of crime, the suspect and any witnesses, as well as collect evidence, such as e.g. various statements, photos, and carry out technical investigations. The time of the questioning can be agreed with the police. The police shall arrange an interpreter, if this is asked for when the time of the questioning is agreed. In some cases, the police may also carry out the questioning over the phone. In questioning, and later in legal proceedings, the victim must tell everything he/she knows about the case and he/she must tell the absolute truth.

A report about the questioning shall be prepared, and the victim must sign this to confirm that the details are correct. If you would like any changes or additions to be made to the report, you can ask for them to be made before signing it.

If it is a simple case and only a fine is expected to be issued, the police may carry out a so-called brief preliminary investigation.  Such criminal cases include, e.g. endangering traffic safety, petty theft and the use of narcotic drugs.

The offender is required to compensate for any damages he/she has caused. During questioning, the police will ask if any claims would like to be made. Compensation can be claimed and interest can be added to the amount for the days since the crime. It is important to keep all receipts of expenses. This will make it easier to justify expenses. An expert’s evaluation of the damaged property’s monetary value is also good evidence. Compensation is usually claimed for broken or lost property, medical costs and pain caused by violence as well as for mental suffering.

After the preliminary investigation, the police collects the material into a preliminary investigation report, if it is needed for further investigation. The material is then sent to to the prosecutor. The victim and the suspect have the right to obtain a copy of the preliminary investigation report. If the victim does not want his/her contact details to be shared with the suspect, he/she should inform the police. 

Most crimes can be investigated by the police and prosecuted by the prosecutor, even if the plaintiff does not press charges. For example, sexual crimes and assaults are almost always considered as these types of crimes.

Some less serious crimes can only be investigated by the police, if the plaintiff has reported it to the police or a prosecutor and demands punishment. If the plaintiff cancels his/her demands for charges during the preliminary investigation, the police will stop its investigations and the victim may lose his/her right to press charges later.

If it is considered necessary, the prosecutor has the right to prosecute for certain crimes, even if the plaintiff has not demanded punishment.