What is a victim charge?
A victim charge refers to a payment paid by the offenders to fund the support services of victims. According to Section 1 of the Act concerning the victim charge “The purpose of the act is to strengthen the state funding target for the support services for victims of crime with an amount corresponding to the profit of victim charges.”
The parliament passed the Act on Victim Charges (In Finnish) in the spring of 2015. The system shall be taken into force no earlier than December 2016.
A victim charge shall be charged for crimes, where the strictest punishment is imprisonment. The payment shall be 40 euros, if the maximum punishment is six months of imprisonment. For more serious crimes, it shall be increased to 80 euros. The victim charge imposed on a legal person, such a company, community or public administrative body, shall be 800 euros. The victim charge shall not be applied if it would be greater in monetary value than the fine ordered to be paid by the offender. It is also not applied to under 18-year-olds.
In practice, the victim charge is charged for crimes set out in the Criminal Code (In Finnish) of Finland. The greatest individual crime is endangering traffic safety. The payment is not applied to fines imposed due to speeding or for other traffic violations referred to in the Road Traffic Act, even if day fines are issued.
A victim charge is in place in many EU countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Lithuania, Poland and Belgium. The EU Commission has recommended its implementation in member states for funding general victim services required by the Victim’s Directive.