Instructions for people considering mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation of criminal cases and disputes is an unbiased, voluntary and free service. The people involved in the crime or dispute meet in mediation. They can talk about the crime or dispute via trained, unbiased and confidentiality-bound voluntary mediators. Sharing experiences and emotions is part of the dialogue carried out in the negotiations. In mediation, the psychological and material damage caused to the victim are also dealt with and their compensation can be agreed. Compensation can be agreed to be paid by means of money or work.
In this way, the parties of a crime or dispute are able to influence the handling of their own case and the decision concerning their case. The mediators ensure that the negotiations result is formed as a joint decision of the parties.
As a precondition for mediation, the parties agree to mediation on a voluntary basis and understand the meaning of mediation. They have the right to withdraw their consent at any time. A minor must also provide his/her personal consent. Consent is also needed from his/her parent or another legal guardian.
Who is present at mediation?
The mediation negotiations are usually arranged by one or two impartial voluntary mediators. The parties involved in the crime are also present, and they must personally participate in the mediation. There are usually no attorneys present at the actual mediation negotiations, but it is good for the victim to confirm his/her legal security in advance, e.g. What kind of agreement should be agreed and what compensation may he/she be entitled to claim?
RIKU’s personal support person may be helpful in situations, where mediation may seem like the right solution, but participating alone in mediation seems challenging. It is possible that a case in mediation will still be handled by court regardless of the outcome of mediation. It is possible to get a support person from RIKU for this purpose as well, who can act as psychological support and guide the victim in practical matters related to the criminal procedure.
RIKU’s support person can be asked for with a contact request or from your local service point . Compensation cases can be discussed at the Phone-based lawyer advice on 0800 161 177 Mon-Thurs (5 pm – 7 pm).
If a child is a party of mediation, mediation is usually arranged in such a way that the minor can get support from his/her guardian, i.e. The guardian has the opportunity to participate in the mediation.
The parties meeting, interacting, clarifying events related to a dispute and crime and the offender taking responsibility is key. Mediation is suspended, if the parties cancel their agreement to mediation, do not want to continue with mediation or it comes apparent that the agreement is not voluntary. Mediation is also suspended, if it comes apparent that either party feels pressured to an agreement, the preconditions of mediation are otherwise not met or the parties do not understand the meaning of mediation.
If settlement is reached, a written agreement is concluded. Before concluding the final agreement, the victim can still negotiate the content of the agreement with an expert. The mediation may affect the limitation of the preliminary investigation, non-prosecution, punishment not being ordered or it not being as serious, as well as the punishment scale being reduced or the punishment type to being changed.
If it is a case of a crime, where prosecution rests with the plaintiff, the case does not progress to a legal process, but the handling of the case ends. After cancelling any punishment demands, the victim cannot renew it for the same criminal offense, even if the person committed the same crime again.
Victim Support Finland’s opinion on mediation
According to Victim Support Finland, in many situations mediation is a good alternative to handle a criminal case. The precondition for mediation is that the offender is willing to take responsibility for his/her action, the parties participate on a voluntary basis and there is no fear involved with meeting the offender. If the offender is not ready to take responsibility for the crime, the requirements for mediation have not been met.
Crimes that are most suitable for mediation include:
- Damage to property
- Home peace harassment
- Theft, petty theft
- Honour related crimes
- Unauthorised use and usage theft
- Assaults between adults, which do not result in serious injuries
- Assaults between young people, which do not result in serious injuries
Special consideration must be made in the mediation of domestic violence.
In the meditation of domestic violence, the following must be observed
1. The criminal case has proceeded in preliminary investigations to a stage that it can be mediated and according to preliminary investigations it is clear, who is responsible for the act
2. Both parties are referred to support services immediately in connection with mediation referral
3. The following is evaluated in the suitability of the case
- Frequency of violence
- Seriousness of violence
- The offender admits to his/her actions
- The offender takes responsibility for the incident
- Ensuring the participation of a volunteer
4.The mediator, preferably two, is competent and familiar with the phenomena
5. First the parties are met separately
- Ensuring the victim’s resources
- Ensuring the participation of a volunteer
- Telling about the victim’s rights
- Informing the victim about the mediation procedure and its impact on his/her legal security and possible legal process
6. A support person can come with you to the mediation situation
- The victim is actively offered the opportunity to take a support person with him/her
- The victim is told where a support person can be found
7. A follow-up plan is made for the victim
- Follow-up after mediation is planned with the victim
- Follow-up for the victim is assisted with/ensured
8. Compensation of damages is agreed
- The victim’s legal security includes obtaining compensation for criminal damages also in case of domestic violence mediation
- The offender is motivated to compensate
- The offender has a financially realistic opportunity to pay for the compensations
- The payment of compensations is monitored