The increase in drug numbers too often tightened penalties close to the ten-year penalty ceiling. According to the Supreme Court, judgments must take into account more than the quantity and quality of the substance.
Five hundred the risk taken due to the euro premium was taking away from the fifties From Oleg years of freedom. Almost eight kilos of amphetamine had been hidden in the car when Oleg brought it from Estonia in September 2014. The trip ended at the Finnish border.
Oleg’s verdict could almost have been outsourced to a computer. According to the table used by the courts, about eight pounds of amphetamine brings eight and a half years in prison. That’s what Oleg got in the district and appellate courts.
There was a turnaround in the Supreme Court: the sentence was reduced by three years.
Punishment is not just math, the Supreme Court signaled. The judgment must take into account all the factors affecting guilt.
Oleg did have a large amount of dangerous drugs in his car, but on the other hand he was just a courier, a messenger of the others. He took a big risk for a negligible reward.
Much bigger culprits are the main players in the league who make big wins, but they may not be caught.
This setting must be reflected in the penalty, the Supreme Court ruled.
Supreme the court knew that a major line change was now underway. It dealt with the matter in a reinforced formation of eleven legal advisers. The normal configuration has five members.
And there was no change here. Preliminary rulings on drug cases have been issued in twenty years in recent years, and now the change of direction is beginning to show in the easing of drug convictions.
“Yes, based on my own observations, this is the case,” the President of the Supreme Court confirms Tatu Leppänen.
This is also the conclusion of the joint quality project of the Helsinki and Rovaniemi Courts of Appeal in 2019. According to its study, the so-called courier decisions of the Supreme Court have significantly affected the drug judgments of the Courts of Appeal.
Leppänen emphasizes that determining the level of punishment is primarily a matter for the legislator. In many crimes, however, the scale is wide, for example, in the case of a felony drug offense from one to ten years in prison.
It is for the courts to apply this scale of penalties in individual cases. Discretion is not free, but the law stipulates what must be taken into account in the judgment.
“Above all, the principle of proportionality applies. The punishment must be in proportion to the crime, its harmfulness and danger, as well as the motives for the act and other guilt. ”
Defendants Equality and predictability of judgments require an established line, Leppänen states. Similar cases must be condemned in the same way.
“It’s also possible that the line is starting to go in the wrong direction, and then it needs to start fixing. That is ultimately the task of the Supreme Court. ”
It is this correction that the Supreme Court has made in recent years.
“The quantity and quality of a batch of drugs are, of course, a key issue. However, the world has changed in such a way that the number of batches of substances has increased. In addition, new, very potent drugs have emerged, in which even smaller amounts are harmful. ”
As an example, Leppänen cites fentanyl, where a negligible amount is very dangerous compared to traditional drugs.
As a result, the Supreme Court convicted a man of about 35 of a felony drug who ordered himself a gram of fentanyl over the Internet for a felony drug offense. The seized letter contained 0.9 grams of very strong fentanyl, nearly 90%.
It is a very dangerous drug, the Supreme Court said. As a batch of less than one gram would receive as many as 2,600 doses, it was also a large number of drugs.
Although the drug offense was aggravated, the Supreme Court considered it to be exceptionally mild in its kind. The man said he did not intend to spread the substance, and the Supreme Court believed this. The man paid 175 euros for the lot, so at least to finance his own use, he had no need to sell the substance.
In any case, the use doses were so high that the risk of the substance spreading was high, the Supreme Court pointed out.
The Supreme Court concluded that the man ordered an exceptionally dangerous substance on the whim of the moment on the basis of the cheapest price and the lowest quantity.
These factors affected the punishment as they showed less guilt than usual. The man received two years in prison and 90 hours of community service.
Continuing conversion drugs that cause the need for lines, Leppänen says.
“It is not possible to give a preliminary ruling on every new substance. One of the most important is to outline how their harmfulness and danger relate to traditional drugs. ”
An opinion on the properties of modified drugs is requested from the National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, and the Pharmaceutical Safety and Development Center, Fimea.
However, with modified drugs, the system has to run after. There is no time to list substances banned as soon as they appear on the market.
As a result, the man under the age of 30 was not convicted of ordering a conversion drug through the encrypted Tor network. The man had time to order the substance just before it was classified as a drug. The post office only brought the package after the amendment to the regulation, but the Supreme Court ruled that the man could not be convicted of a drug offense.
The strength of the drug also affects the assessment of whether it is a felony or a basic drug offense. Thus, it also has a significant effect on punishment.
In a January ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the drug offense was not aggravated, even though a man in his thirties was in possession of more than one hundred grams of amphetamine. This was decided because the substance was exceptionally mild.
Schematic thinking based on the quantity and quality of the drug over the years has led to penalties for drug offenses beginning to touch the ceiling of punishment frequently. Too often.
“If you are too often at the top of the scale, the principle of proportionality laid down by law will not be implemented in the best possible way,” says Leppänen.
This was sharpened by the Supreme Court in its decision last year. A maximum penalty or a penalty close to it should not be imposed schematically after a certain amount of drugs has been exceeded. Otherwise, crimes of different gravity cannot be distinguished.
Because of this the Supreme Court mitigated the verdict of three men who made amphetamines. In the Court of Appeal, everyone had received a maximum sentence of ten years, but in the Supreme Court, everyone’s sentence was reduced by at least two years.
This decision was also taken by a reinforced Chamber of 11 Judges. The reinforced chamber is used when the previous line is being changed or the matter is otherwise of great importance in principle.
Supreme in recent years, the court has also outlined how evidence should be assessed in drug offenses – and also in sexual offenses. This is rare.
“Traditionally, there has been restraint in re-evaluating the evidence in the Supreme Court. The main task of the Supreme Court is to give preliminary rulings, and the assessment of evidence is always ultimately case-specific, ”says Leppänen.
Evidence was assessed, for example, in a case where Customs seized a letter addressed to a man in his twenties. It contained a drug tag similar to 250 lsd.
The man denied knowing anything about the drug shipment, but the Supreme Court concluded that there was no doubt of guilt.
Already in the past, the Supreme Court had ruled that the consignee label has significant probative value as to who ordered the substance. However, that alone is not enough.
Although the prosecutor must prove his accusation, the accused may sometimes be required to clarify the facts on which he has relied. The court can then assess the credibility of the report and whether the alternative course of events put forward by the accused could be correct.
In this case, the Supreme Court considered the possibility of bullying or revenge unlikely, inter alia, because the man had only recently moved into the apartment. In addition, 160 euros had left the man’s bank account for a company that brokers virtual currency, which is exactly the amount needed for a drug batch.
The Supreme Court also considered the impact of the man’s previous drug convictions in assessing the evidence. They increased the likelihood of drug offense, but also the likelihood of retaliation.
Previous crimes were not individually relevant, according to the Supreme Court, but, along with other evidence, they provided little support for the prosecution.
The overall evidence formed a strong and credible evidence to support the prosecution, the Supreme Court ruled. The man ended up in jail for drug orders and other crimes.
Demonstration According to Leppänen, directing the assessment is difficult. However, drug and sexual offenses have led to preliminary rulings because these issues are seemingly particularly difficult. The screen often consists of small pieces.
Then it is necessary to carefully assess each individual piece of evidence and its significance, the overall evidence and whether the evidence exceeds the sentencing threshold, Leppänen explains.
“The message of the Supreme Court could be summed up in such a way that even in these cases the screening threshold is the same despite the difficulty of evaluating the evidence. The law states that there must be no serious doubt as to the guilt of the defendant. ”
Drug crime in the fight against terrorism, the courts have only the means of criminal law at their disposal. Leppänen hopes that in addition to supply, efforts will also be made to influence demand.
Preventive work, especially for young people, is paramount, he emphasizes. Substance abuse, mental health and social work can help prevent a young person from getting into a drug spiral.
The drug world terrifies even an experienced judge in its violence, Leppänen says. He says he sadly followed the symptoms of some young people during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Am I now writing a promissory note that will fall due in the coming years?”