Minimum punishment for repetition of serious crimes

Criminals will receive heavier punishments if, within ten years, they reoffend by committing a crime which has serious consequences for the victim and which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of eight years or more. The Dutch government agreed to this on the proposal of Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice.

In addition to crimes carrying maximum terms of imprisonment of twelve years or more, offences carrying terms of imprisonment of eight, nine or ten years will now also fall within the scope of the regulation. The proposal currently ties in better with the priority given to the approach to serious violent and sex offences. These offences do not only have extremely far-reaching and traumatic consequences for the victims and their immediate circle, they also undermine public confidence in the legal order and perceived safety. The offences concerned include systematic distribution of child pornography, sexual intercourse with an incapacitated person, and sexual intercourse with a child between twelve and sixteen years of age. With regard to violent offences, the offences include more aggravated forms of assault and violent property crimes.

The minimum punishment to be imposed will at least be half the maximum punishment. This means, for example, a term of imprisonment of six years for recidivist shoplifters who inflict serious injury on a person, or extortionists who use a weapon or physical violence. In cases of manslaughter and serious forms of human trafficking, the minimum punishment will be seven and a half years, and in cases of murder, the recidivist will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least fifteen years. The government considers a heavier punishment justified if a previous conviction for a serious crime did not prevent the offender from striking again.

The court will only have the possibility to deviate from a minimum punishment in very specific cases, when it will be obliged to explain why the punishment imposed is lighter. This may occur in exceptional cases in which the court takes account of the personality of the offender or the exceptional circumstances in which the crime had been committed.

The Dutch government agreed to submit the legislative proposal to the Council of State for its opinion. The text of the legislative proposal and the opinion will be made public when the legislative proposal is submitted to the Lower House of Parliament.