Alternative sanctions, fines and other sentences
Besides custodial sentences, there other penalties and non-punitive orders which the court may impose. They include alternative sanctions and restraining orders.
An alternative sanction involves carrying out unpaid work, such as cleaning or removing graffiti. The court may only impose alternative sanctions for minor offences. Since 2012, the courts have no longer been permitted to impose alternative sanctions for serious sexual offences or violent offences.
In addition to the alternative sanction, the court will also impose a default custodial sentence. If the offender fails to fulfil his obligations under the alternative sanction, he will have to serve the custodial sentence. Whether the obligations have been fulfilled correctly is decided by the public prosecutor.
A fine may be imposed for any offence. The fines database of the Public Prosecution Service gives an overview of all fines for minor offences. Serious offences are divided into categories, and for each category there is a maximum fine. It is up to either the court or the public prosecutor to determine the actual fine to be paid. Fines are collected by the Central Fines Collection Agency (Centraal Justitieel Incassobureau, CJIB).
If damages are awarded, the person convicted has to pay a sum of money to compensate for the harm he caused the victim. The CJIB collects the damages and transfers the money to the victim’s bank account. This prevents offenders from finding out victims’ personal details.
Confiscation of criminals’ property
The proceeds of crime may be seized from criminals. This includes cars and houses as well as money. The practice of confiscating the proceeds of crime is regulated by what is popularly known as ‘Pluk-ze’ or ‘Squeeze ’em’ legislation.
The government aims to increase the amount of money and property confiscated from criminals. In 2012 €49.7 million in cash and goods was confiscated. The figure is expected to top €70 million in 2014 and reach €100 million in 2018.
The police may confiscate the driving licence of someone who has, for instance, been found to be speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol. Once the police have confiscated a driving licence, the public prosecutor decides whether it can be returned.
If someone engages in serious antisocial behaviour, a restraining order may be imposed. For instance, a football hooligan may be subject to an order banning him from entering the stadium. In the case of domestic violence, an order may be imposed to prevent an abuser from entering the home or contacting the partner.
Tougher sentences for persistent offenders
The courts may impose an ISD order on adult offenders against whom an official report has been drawn up at least ten times within the past five years. The offender is then committed to an institution for persistent offenders for two years.