This web page is part of the Guide to the Icelandic justice system for 15-17 year olds who have experienced sexual abuse.

The courts take over the case

  1. The police send the case to the district prosecutor’s office There the case is reviewed again. The district prosecutor is the lowest level of the justice system in Iceland. The other levels are the Landsréttur Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, which is the highest level.
  2. At the district prosecutor’s office, a decision is made on whether the person who abused you will be prosecuted or not.
  3. If they are prosecuted, they have to go to court and say whether they are guilty or innocent. This first step before the court is called the registration of the court case. You are not required to attend it.
  4. If the person says they are guilty and admits to having committed an offence against you, then the judge pronounces the punishment that the person must receive.
  5. If the person who abused you denies that they did it, then the case is tried in the district court. There are district courts across the entire country.
  6. What we often call a trial is also called a courtroom hearing. When the hearing is over, the judge pronounces a judgement and says whether the person was proven guilty or not. If it was not possible to prove the case well enough, the person is innocent.

Where does the hearing take place?

The district courts are located in eight different areas of the country. Usually, the case will be pleaded where the perpetrator lives.

Fact: The person who committed an offence against you is most likely someone you know.

Why are cases dismissed?

If not enough data could be collected on your case, the district prosecutor decides not to prosecute (not to issue an indictment). Then the case is dismissed. If the case does not make it any further in the system, that does not at all mean that the abuse did not happen.

The police and the courts form the justice system. In the justice system, cases may only be interpreted based on the data and what has been proven. The main role of the police and courts is to look at the data in criminal cases in an impartial way.

If your case is dismissed, the reasons behind that will be explained to your parents or guardians and your legal rights protector.

Dismissal appealed to Director of Public Prosecutions

It is possible to appeal a case dismissal. To do so, your parents or guardians talk to your legal rights protector.

Receiving information

The district prosecutor will only contact your legal rights protector. Your legal rights protector then passes on information to your parents or guardians.

How long does this stage of the case take?

  • The police’s processing of the case usually takes around 1 year.
  • The district prosecutor’s office usually takes another six months to process the case after that.

This is why one and a half years can pass from when the offence was committed until it comes to light whether the perpetrator is prosecuted or not.