The percentage of cases dismissed by the Public Prosecutor’s office in the Netherlands rose slightly in 2004 and 2005, after a decrease in 2000–2003. Charges for violent offences were dropped more often than average, offences under the Road Traffic Act and the Arms and Munitions Act less often than average.
Dismissals by the Public Prosecutor
Many cases dismissed through lack of evidence
Some 120 thousand cases a year are disposed of by the Public Prosecutor’s office. About one quarter of these are dismissed. The number of cases dismissed on technical grounds is about the same as the number dismissed because there is no likelihood of conviction.
Most cases dismissed on technical grounds are dismissed because of lack of evidence. Cases dismissed for this reason accounted for just over 8 percent of the total number of dispositions by the Public Prosecutor’s office in 2005. Here, too, a decrease was observed up to 2003, followed by a slight rise.
The most common cause of cases dismissed because there was no likelihood of conviction was the length of time that had elapsed between offence and trial. In 2005 this accounted for nearly 2 percent of disposed cases. In 2000 this percentage was nearly twice as high.
Most common grounds for dismissal
Many violent crime cases dismissed
In 2005, 23 percent of all criminal cases were dismissed before coming to trial. For violent offences the dismissal rate was just over 35 percent. This high percentage was mainly caused by problems with gathering evidence. In 2000 relatively many violent cases were still disposed by means of a dismissal on technical grounds, in 2005 most dismissals in these cases were on the grounds of likelihood of non-conviction.
For cases under the Arms and Munitions Act and the Road Traffic Act the number of dismissals was lower than average in 2005: 11 and 15 percent respectively. For weapons crimes there were just as many dismissals on technical grounds as on grounds of likelihood of non-conviction. For traffic offences the dismissals were mostly on technical grounds. Three out of four cases were dismissed on grounds of lack of evidence.
A dismissal is less likely in these cases because offenders are often caught in the act. This means the police have both the offender and the evidence.
Dismissals for some offences
Nynke de Lange