Crime rises again in Czechia after falling due to Covid

While crimes are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, the rate of acquittals is dropping and more cases are settled with plea bargains. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 17.03.2023 09:57:00 (updated on 17.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia's crime rate rose in 2022 after two years of lower figures due to Covid. The number of plea bargain agreements has been rising, and more cases are also being settled with financial penalties.

The High Public Prosecutor's Office (NSZ) said it launched criminal proceedings against 197,525 individuals in 2022, up by 28,500 compared to the previous year.

Most proceedings don't result in a trial. Last year, trials were launched against 30,512 people, a similar number as the year before.

High conviction rate

The vast majority of charges brought by prosecutors will result in a conviction by the court. The rate of people being acquitted has been below 5 percent for the past four years. Last year, this share was 4.3 percent, according to NSZ’s preliminary figures.

The intention to start a trial was canceled for 1,102 people, or 3.6 percent of the total. In the past four years, the amount of canceled trials was under 5 percent.

Prosecutors can drop cases due to insufficient evidence collected at the time. Accused people can object to the trial on those grounds before it starts.

The cancellation does not mean that the person is acquitted of guilt, it only returns the preliminary proceedings back to the screening phase, when additional evidence can be obtained.

More plea bargains and financial settlements

 The NSZ also said the number of plea bargains is growing. This speeds up criminal proceedings and makes them more efficient. They also alleviate the burden on courts. In 2022, state attorneys proposed 632 such deals, while there were 531 of them a year before.

The proportion of financial penalties, often alternatives to prison sentences, is also rising. In 2015, they made up 5.9 percent of cases, while the proportion surged to 26.3 percent by last year.

Penalties from criminal proceedings are given to the aggrieved parties and victims of crime, or to state revenues. Last year, CZK 478 million were sent to a special account of the Justice Ministry.

During the Covid years, the crime rate fell. In 2019, before the pandemic, there were roughly 212,000 criminal proceedings launched against individuals. In 2020, which marked the start of the Covid pandemic, the number fell to 182,000, while in 2021 criminal proceedings reached about 169,000 cases.

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