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THE LEGAL STATUS OF JUVENILES IN SWEDEN

Sweden has special legislation for young offenders and a wide range of institutions that deal with youth who commit offenses. At the same time, and in contrast to other comparable countries, sanctioning decisions for juveniles are made by the same courts that sentence adult offenders. One very clear consequence of this system is that Sweden has no youth courts. Youths are tried in the same courts as adults, and the prosecutors who prosecute youth cases do not work in separation from the public prosecution service in general (although in some places they are special prosecutors who are assigned to deal with youth cases).

Age of Majority

The age of criminal responsibility in Sweden is 15. This is relatively high compared with other countries. In contrast to many other countries (including neighbouring Denmark), the age of criminal responsibility in Sweden is rarely seriously questioned in the national public debate. Nor are there any exceptions to this provision. For example, no criminal offenses committed by persons under the age of 15 can result in a penal sanction.[1] Instead criminal acts committed by those under 15 years old are viewed as social problems that are to be dealt with through the municipal social services. In serious cases, however, the social services may apply to an administrative court to take the child into care.

  • [1] In certain very special cases, a court case can be held to determine the guilt of a person under theage of 15, in the form of a so-called evidentiary proceeding, in order to establish who committedthe act in question without a sanction being imposed. This may be important, for example, in relation to the award of damages. This possibility is in practice almost never utilised however.
 
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