Murder (Finnish law)

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In Finland, murder is defined as homicide with at least one of four aggravating factors:

  1. Deliberate intent
  2. Exceptional brutality or cruelty
  3. Significantly endangering public safety
  4. Committed against a public official engaged in enforcing the law.

Further, the offense considered as a whole must be aggravated. A murder doesn't expire.

The only possible punishment for murder is life imprisonment. Typically, the prisoner will be pardoned by the Helsinki Court of Appeals after serving 12 to 14 years of the sentence, but this is not automatic. The President can also give pardon, and previously this used to be the only possibility.

In jurisprudence, the comparison of an actual crime against the "especially brutal or cruel way" standard has been understood to mean comparison to "usual" homicide cases. In recent cases, the Finnish Supreme Court has not considered a single axe stroke on the head, or strangulation to be "especially brutal or cruel". On the other hand, causing death by jumping on a person's chest and head and firing over 10 times upon a person's torso have been considered to fulfill the standard.

Until 2006, a life sentence could be pardoned only by the president. However, since the 1960s, presidents have regularly given pardons to practically all offenders after a period of 12–15 years. In 2006, the legislation was changed so that all life sentences are reviewed by an appellate court after they have been executed for 12 years. If the convict is still deemed a danger to society, his or her case will be reviewed every two years after this. Involuntary confinement to a psychiatric institution may also result, sometimes after the sentence is served. The involuntary treatment ends when the psychiatrist decides so, or when a court decrees it no longer necessary in a periodical review.

If the prerequisites are not fulfilled, but the homicide has been deliberate and premeditated, the convict is sentenced for second degree murder (tappo) to a minimum of eight years in prison. There is also the crime of voluntary manslaughter (surma), which is a homicide under mitigating/extenuating circumstances, with the punishment of four to ten years. Involuntary manslaughter (kuolemantuottamus) has a maximum punishment of two years of imprisonment or fine (see day fine). Infanticide "caused by the mental stress of birth" carries a punishment of at least four months and at most four years in prison.

Taking part in a murderous raid may be punished as murder even if the offender did not succeed in actually killing anyone. This was defined by a Supreme Court rejection of appeal in a case where a motorcycle gang attacked a rival gang at a pizzeria. The main defendant attempted to shoot three rival gangsters. The first was saved by a bullet-proof vest, the second was hit but lost only two fingers, and with the third, the weapon malfunctioned and the targeted gangster ultimately survived. However, other attackers did succeed in murdering three people, and as the main defendant took part in planning and preparing the raid, he was also convicted of murder.[1]


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