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Reporting a crime – the criminal procedure begins by reporting a crime

A crime must be reported in order for the criminal procedure to begin. Claiming compensation also requires that the crime has been reported to the police.

A crime can be reported by e.g. the victim, a police or a witness of the crime. This can be done at any police station, regardless of where the crime was committed. It can be done in person by visiting the police station or by phone. Petty crimes, that do not require immediate action by the police, can be reported online. For example, bicycle theft is an example of a petty crime. To report a crime, you will need a detailed description of what has happened and who was involved, i.e. the crime suspects and victims of crime. If there were any witnesses, they also need to be informed to the police.

Crimes should be reported as soon as possible after the crime has happened. The quicker the crime is reported, the quicker the police can begin their investigations. Reporting a crime can be done even if the offender is under 15 years old. A person younger than 15 years of age will not be held criminally liable in court, but he/she must compensate any caused damages.

A police report can also be filed online. Explicit instructions on how to file a police report can be found on Finnish Police’s website.

If the crime has caused any injuries, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible. A medical certificate may be needed later in court, and both as evidence of the crime and for claiming compensation. If it is a case of sexual violence, you should not wash or change your clothes before visiting the doctor. If it is a case of burglary, nothing should be cleaned and the area should not be organised before the police have visited.

Expiration of crimes

Almost all cases expire as crimes. Such crimes, which have a punishment of life sentence, do not ever expire. The limitation period of a crime varies between two years to twenty years. For example, an assault that is more serious than simple assault will expire in five years and aggravated assault will expire in twenty years. The limitation period starts to run from the time when the crime was committed or when knowledge of it was gained. The prosecutor must press charges within the limitation period. Before that, the police must have time to investigate the crime. After the crime’s limitation period, the suspect of the crime cannot be charged for the crime

The following information is needed for reporting a crime

  •  Description of what has happened and how
  •  Accurate time and location of the crime
  • Name of offender, if it is known
  • Characteristics of the offender (age, height, body, special characteristics of the face, colour of eyes, teeth, speech, hands, movement, clothing)
  •  Where to and how did the offender escape
  •  If the offender is using a vehicle, the registration number and other characteristics of the vehicle (make, colour, model)
  •  Dangerousness of the offender (weapons, state of mind, threats, use of narcotics, etc.)

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Police: File a police report