Don’t block the perpetrator on social media although you may want to. It’s difficult not to but well worth trying. If you decide to press charges, your communication history is data in the case, but it disappears if you block someone.
How is the investigation conducted?
The case has now become a public criminal case that is being investigated by police and is in their hands. Through the investigation, data is collected so it is possible to plead the case before the district court.
Location of the offence
Police in the area (also called the district) where the offence took place conduct the investigation. If there is no specific police division for sex offences in the district, the police will receive support from other districts.
First, the offence is categorised. That means that it is placed under a specific provision of law. Examples of offence categories are: rape, harassment, and violation of modesty.
Your description determines the offence category
The categorisation is based on your description of the offence in your police statement. The police try to match the description with the correct legal provision. How the offence is categorised may surprise you. People don’t necessarily talk about offences the same way they are defined by the law.
The police’s role is to uncover the truth and to document evidence. Some actions they take in order to do this are:
- Calling in the perpetrator to give a statement.
- Calling in witnesses to give a statement.
- Comparing your testimony to that of the perpetrator and witnesses.
Collect data, for example:
- Security camera footage.
- Copying phones or phone data, with your permission.
- Communication on social media, with your permission.
- Certificates from doctors, psychologists, and similar professionals, with your permission.
The police may call you in for another interview to shed light on something that has emerged during the investigation or ask you for more data. In that case, police will contact your legal rights protector.
Important information about the perpetrator
If you can say who the perpetrator is right away, the police try to contact them immediately following the offence. That makes it possible to collect important data. If the offence is not recent, the police evaluate what data can be collected in each case, for example from the place where the offence happened or the perpetrator’s home.
If the perpetrator lives abroad
There are various steps that can be taken in a sexual offence investigation even if the perpetrator is only in the country temporarily, for example if they are a tourist.
You should not let a perpetrator’s short stay prevent you from pressing charges. As in all other sexual offence cases, it is best to get the police on the case as soon as possible so that the perpetrator can be found. If they have left the country, the Icelandic police often work with police in the perpetrator’s home country to find them.
When the investigation is over
A fully-investigated case
Police investigators investigate a case until it is considered fully investigated. Then it is sent from a department within the police called the prosecution department to the district prosecutor. All offences are investigated in the same way and it does not matter whether the perpetrator is likely to be convicted or not. But your case will not necessarily go from the police to the district prosecutor. There can be several reasons for that.
Investigation ceased in the police’s prosecution department
The investigation could be ceased (stopped) and the case not sent to the District Prosecutor’s Office. The decision to cease an investigation is always made in the police’s prosecution department, by a legally qualified representative. If the police’s prosecution department decides to cease an investigation, it is because it is not considered likely that the case will make it through the District Prosecutor’s Office.
This not does mean that your experience is not real or that the violence did not occur. It only means that there was not enough data to take the case further.
- The case is then considered fully investigated. It is considered that further investigation will not lead to uncovering more facts in the case.
- It is possible to appeal the decision to cease an investigation to the Director of Public Prosecutions (ríkissaksóknari). Your legal rights protector assists you with that process.
Request to reopen the investigation
It is difficult to pick up an investigation exactly where it left off when it was ceased. The condition for reopening the case investigation is that new data has emerged that was not available when the investigation was ceased. You must also submit a request for the investigation to be reopened. The police look at the data to evaluate whether the investigation will be reopened or not.
Investigation ceased at the request of the victim
Your parents or guardians can ask for the investigation to be ceased. To do so, they need to go to the police along with your legal rights protector and explain why they want to withdraw the charges. If the investigation is ceased it is possible to continue it later if more data emerges.
Access to data
While the case is under investigation, both you and the perpetrator have the right to receive information about its status and access to the case data. It is your legal rights protector who asks for information about case data on your behalf. The perpetrator also has the right to do so and their defence ask for the data on their behalf. This is, however, under the condition that it does not impede the investigation of the case.
- In addition, it is not permitted to view data or parts of data that contain sensitive personal information about anyone other than the person who is requesting to see the data - unless certain conditions are fulfilled.
- There are others who may be granted access to the documents for use in their work, while the case is being investigated. These are the police and employees within the justice system.
- If the investigation of the case is ceased, you have the right to access all of the case data.
Notifications about the status of the case, such as whether the case has been sent onward, sent back for more investigation, or whether the investigation has been ceased, will be sent to you and your legal rights protector by letter through island.is, a website for accessing many public services in Iceland.
The investigation can take 4-6 months. Cases are often complex; it is necessary to speak to many witnesses and collect data. The length of investigations can vary greatly but it does not reflect their quality, rather the complexity of each case.
Waiting for the investigation to be completed can be a difficult period for many survivors. Trying to build yourself back up after the trauma is recommended, regardless of the investigation’s progress.