Criminal Liability in The Netherlands

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Identify and describe the legal tradition in your selected country. In your discussion, be sure to address the relevant social, political, religious, and/or economic factors that have historically shaped and currently influence the country’s legal system and the focus of its criminal justice system. The Netherlands consists of a constitutional and hereditary monarchy, meaning that monarchy actually has influence in the way the kingdom is ruled and that the crown is passed to the monarch’s firstborn, who could either be female or male.

The Monarch is the head of the Council of state and is in charge of appointing twenty-eight members. “The central legislative power is shared between the Monarch and the Parliament. This creates an first and the second chambers. The Monarch and the Second Chamber are allowed to propose bills, while, the First Chamber may only approve or reject bills.

The Netherlands works under a unitary governmental structure where the “operation of the federal police, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the correctional system” are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and the municipal police is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Criminal Justice system is guided by the Constitution the Criminal or Penal Code, and the Code of Criminal Procedure and Special Acts and follows the European Community law and European treaties.  What are the major crime trends in your selected country? According to, the most recent statistics show that crime rates had been significantly decreasing for a decade when the article was written in 2016.

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Between 2014 and 2015 recorded crime had fallen by five percent, totaling to a 25% decrease in eight years. Offenses that caused the most public concern also saw an extremely quick and significant decrease.

Drug offenses decreased by 9.1%, sexual offenses decreased by 8.1%, and violent theft and burglary decreased by 7.3%. The decrease in crime has been so big that a total of five prisons had been shut down. Not everyone in the Netherlands is happy with this, politicians and some citizens say that crime rates have not actually been decreasing, it’s just that the police force is lacking the resources needed in order to track down criminals. It is noted that it has become significantly difficult to track crime online. On the other hand, another part of society thinks that’s the decrease has to do with the fact that a lot of the youth, especially younger boys, are outgrowing crime and the population is decreasing therefore there isn’t that many young men. Preventative measures such as stronger laws and better surveillance equipment is also being credited for the decrease in carjacking and burglary.

As for drugs, the Netherlands is a very large recipient of cocaine and drug traffickers are suspected of becoming involved with the trade of synthetic opioids to the United States using the Dark Web. Marijuana is used, however, it is considered a soft drug, therefore, authorities give citizens a pass on it as long as it is not in large amounts. In Amsterdam, it is not uncommon for drug dealers to approach tourists in the street trying to sell cocaine and ecstasy. The country is very focused on trying to combat crime that is being committed through the web, however, it has proven to be difficult.  Describe the treatment of juveniles who have been accused and/or convicted of violating the law.

The age of criminal responsibility in the Netherlands is 12. “Juveniles between the ages of 12 and 18 are subject to juvenile criminal law.” However, judicial discretion may have juveniles to be tried as adults. It all depends on the seriousness of the offense and the juvenile’s offense history. Young adults between the ages of 18and 21 may also be tried under juvenile criminal law, again it all depends on the seriousness of the crime, offense history, and the persons state of mind.  The 1957 Police Act divided the police into two forces. It was split into the municipal police which patrol, conduct criminal investigation, traffic, special units, and administrative models. It is the mayor’s responsibility to manage, control and administer the municipal police forces. “The national police are a centralized organization under the administrative control of the Ministry of Justice.” Its responsibilities include specialized units and providing law enforcement to rural areas.

The Netherlands also has other Federal Police Units such as the Military Police Force and The National Criminal Intelligence Service. In order to improve the police force, The Netherlands police forces are currently being reconstructed. In order to become a police officer students must go through a twenty-month training period that is divided into three phases. During phase one students spend eleven months at a police academy studying law, traffic laws, sport, and weapon usage. During the second phase students spend five months completing on the job training. During the third phase taking place within the last three months before graduation students spend more time at the academy.

When the program is completed the students are put to work with experienced officers. When it comes to the public relationship with the police, citizens have a “guaranteed right to physical integrity.’ Describe the trial process.The trial process is split into two phases: the pretrial and the trial phases. The pretrial phase is where the attorney takes time to conduct extensive research and try to find evidence. The trial period is where the evidence is used in order to find the truth. In court trials, judges are the ones who ask questions, and so are attorneys. However, attorneys are not allowed to perform cross-examinations. There are alternatives to trial because the Netherlands has a principle of opportunity or expediency allowing prosecutors to dismiss a case for the public interest. Describe the correctional system.

There are pretrial incarceration conditions that state that people may only be detained for six hours “before being charged with an offense, that charge being an informal charge, stating the violations of the criminal code. The accused may not spend more than three ways waiting to be brought before the District Court, and trial must follow within one hundred days of the initial custody. Those who have a higher chance of being imprisoned may be put in detention and it may also be ordered for those who may be a risk to society or are flight risks. The Netherlands tries to focus on actually rehabilitating the prisoners and helping them reintegrate into society, therefore, there most commonly used method of punishment is imprisonment with intent to rehabilitate.

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Criminal Liability in The Netherlands. (2023, Jan 10). Retrieved from

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