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Sanctions

One of the more important differences when comparing juvenile to adult proceedings is the notion of sanctions. The primary difference is of a general nature: the purpose of a sanction in cases of juvenile offenders is to ensure that the juvenile receives education, reeducation, and the opportunity for adequate personal development. The purpose is entirely rehabilitative in nature and reflects the view that a criminal offense committed by a juvenile offender is a sign of distress and personality troubles. Moreover, the seriousness and nature of the criminal offense are only relevant in exceptional cases, when juvenile imprisonment is considered as a sanction, and not when deciding on other appropriate sanctions (Filipcic 2006). This differs significantly from the general concept for adult offenders which is also partly rehabilitative, but punitive and preventive as well (Plesnicar

2013). The sanction imposed by the court must, therefore, not only provide for assistance and protection, but also for the supervision which the juvenile needs to rehabilitate or reintegrate in society (Filipcic 2006).

Generally, Slovenian penal law acknowledges four types of sanctions: Sentences (e.g., prison and fines), admonitory sanctions (e.g., suspended sentence), safety measures (e.g., compulsory psychiatric treatment), and educational measures. In the case of juvenile offenders the court may only choose among different types of educational measures and, in exceptional circumstances, the sentence of juvenile imprisonment or a fine.

The main criterion in deciding whether to impose an educational measure or a sentence is the age of the juvenile offender. The group of younger minors (aged 14-16) may only be sanctioned with an educational measure, while juvenile imprisonment and a fine may also exceptionally be used for the group of older minors (aged 16-18). When explaining a sentence of juvenile imprisonment the court is required to justify such a measure in great detail and explain why a lesser measure was not applicable.

A fine may only be imposed on a juvenile if the offender has his own financial means and is able to pay it by himself. In the case of a default payment, a fine cannot be substituted by imprisonment but must be converted into nonresidential educational measures. In practice, fines are almost never used as a juvenile sentence.

Data from the Statistical Office shows that in about 98 % of all juvenile cases, an educational measure is chosen as the appropriate sanction. It is important to reemphasize that when deciding on educational measure to apply, the only criterion for the court is the juvenile offender’s resocialization and in no way the seriousness of the offense.

 
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