This web page is part of the Guide to the Icelandic justice system for victims of sexual offences. It aims to clarify the process regarding offences against individuals 18 years and older.


If the judgement does not end in conviction that means that the judge did not consider it possible to prove without a doubt that the offence had taken place. That does not mean that the judge does not believe you.

It can be difficult to accept that the perpetrator will not undergo any punishment and is therefore important to take care of yourself and your mental health. It’s good to get support from both your family and friends, and a therapist or counsellors at the survivor counselling centre Stígamót.


Your perpetrator has been convicted for committing the offence against you. This can help you to move on with your life, but it is also normal for all sorts of feelings to come up. It’s always important that you continue to take care of your mental health.

The judge decides on the length of the sentence the convicted perpetrator must serve. The length of the sentence can depend on many things, including age, previous offences, and how likely the perpetrator is to commit another offence.

It is useful to know that:

  • The maximum sentence for a sexual offence in Iceland is 16 years. Keep in mind, sentences that are given are always much shorter.
  • Very few people serve the full sentence.
  • A convicted perpetrator may remain free until they begin serving the sentence if they have not been remanded in custody. It can take time for them to receive a spot in prison.

The perpetrator’s sentence

The image shows the progression for service from closed prison through open prison, halfway house, ankle tag and parole to liberty.

Graduated sentencing

When someone is sentenced to prison that does not always mean that they will be confined to prison the whole time. If the prisoner demonstrates good behaviour and takes part in treatment it’s possible that they will get to serve their sentence with more lenient security, subject to the Prison and Probation Administration’s conditions.

Further into the sentence, they might be granted day leave from the prison, get to serve the sentence in an open prison that is not fenced off, be transferred to a residential rehabilitation centre, or be granted an ankle bracelet and be electronically monitored.

If the convicted person breaks the rules at the place where they are serving their sentence, they can be sent back to a closed prison.

Why the graduated system?

The Prison and Probation Administration’s policy is that the punishment for an offence is the judgement itself, and that the sentence should rehabilitate people in order to prevent them from committing another offence in the future. People need to be reintegrated into society, not ostracised.

The policy is based in part on evidence that it is very difficult to reform a person in a closed prison

Harassment from the perpetrator

The perpetrator may not contact the victim

The Prison and Probation Administration can forbid a perpetrator from contacting a victim, for example when they go on day leave, to a residential rehabilitation centre, get an ankle bracelet, or are granted probation.

If the perpetrator harasses you or displays other harmful behaviour

If the convicted party violates these conditions they can lose these privileges, for example be sent from a residential rehabilitation centre back to prison, have the permission to serve their sentence with an ankle bracelet revoked, and more.

In certain instances, it is possible to keep the reason why these privileges were revoked a secret from the perpetrator. However, the general rule is that they have the right to know why the decision to grant electronic monitoring was revoked or why they were sent away from the residential rehabilitation centre Vernd, to give some examples.

Information about the whereabouts of the convicted person

The Prison and Probation Administration

If you want to, you can contact the Prison and Probation Administration and receive information on the sentence of the person who committed an offence against you. For some people, it’s good to know where the perpetrator is in the process of serving their sentence and if it’s possible to run into them out in public. Other survivors don’t want to think about it and that’s also OK.

What next?

Although your case is closed within the justice system, you will most likely have to deal with its repercussions for some time. Familiarize yourself with the resources that are available.