What we in everyday language refer to as a 'trial' is known at court as a main hearing. The judgment in a criminal case will only be based on what was established at the main hearing.
When the trial has finished, the chairperson of the court and the lay judges will deliberate and decide on the final judgment to be made. Following these deliberations, the chairperson of the court will briefly explain the content of the judgment (pronounce the judgment) and explain how anyone who is dissatisfied with the judgment can appeal against it.
A judgment will sometimes not be pronounced at the trial, but at a later time. The chairperson of the court will then state the date and precise time when the judgment will be pronounced. You can go to the district court on this date and read the judgment or call them to get details about it.
The district court will send a copy of the judgment to the parties on the same day it is pronounced or no later than one week thereafter if the judgment has been pronounced at the trial.
What does a judgment contain?
The judgment always contains details about
- which district court has adjudicated
- the date of the judgment and where it was pronounced
- who the parties in the case were: the prosecutor, the accused (the person charged for the offence) and the aggrieved party (the person who is the victim of the offence). The name of the representative and public defence counsel are also stated.
- the final judgment, that is to say how the district court has adjudicated (see below)
- the applications made in the case (see below)
- an explanation of the final judgment (reasons for judgment) and what the district court found to be proved in the case (see below)
- how to appeal against the judgment and the latest date to make an appeal (see below)
Final judgment - what sanction applies?
The judgment opens with one or more pages showing the final judgment. It will state - besides the names of the district court and the parties - what offences the accused has been sentenced for. On the same page, if the court found her or him guilty, the sanction (penalty or the like) that will be imposed upon the accused. If the district court has completely acquitted the accused, it will be stated that the prosecution is rejected.
If the district court has rejected some of the charges, this will be stated in the introductory pages of the judgment. It will also be stated whether the district court has made a decision affecting a previous sanction and similarly the district court's decision on damages.
The final judgment will also contain other decisions made by the district court in conjunction with the judgment, for example, a decision for detention and whether the person sentenced (the accused) should pay part of the costs of the proceedings to the State.
If there are several persons accused in the case, there will be one or more pages for each accused.
Applications - what does the prosecutor and aggrieved party request?
After the pages of the final judgment, there will be a report on the applications in the case, for example, the offences the prosecutor has alleged that the accused has committed and the aggrieved party's claim for damages. The prosecutor's applications are often only mentioned through a reference to the summons application, which will in that case also be provided as an appendix to the judgment.
Reasons for judgment - why did the judges adjudicate in this way?
After the applications, the reasons of the district court for the final judgment are given. Here the court will describe how it has assessed the evidence. The district court usually also explains why it has selected the sanction that has been imposed on the accused.
Sometimes the reasons for judgment can be very comprehensive. The district court can explain what the accused, aggrieved party and any witnesses have said during the hearing. If there is written evidence, for example, a physician's certificate, this may also be referred to.