Department of Criminal Cases

The print version

The competence of the Department

Under the cassation procedure, the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate reviews the following:

  • Cassation complaints or protests against rulings of the appellate instance court, which have not become effective;
  • Cassation complaints or protests against rulings of the first instance court which have been adopted under agreement procedure and which have not become effective.

The Department of Criminal Cases also reviews: 

  • Cases, in which the ruling of the appellate instance court or the cassation instance court has become effective if criminal proceedings have been renewed due to newly discovered circumstances;
  • Applications and protests on new review of an effective court ruling due to significant violation of standards of substantial or procedural laws;
  • Complaints against decisions of the Prosecutor General on recognition of an individual as to be protected by special procedural means and on termination of special procedural protection; on dismissal of criminal proceedings against individual, who helped to disclose serious or especially serious crime;
  • Complaints against decisions of the appellate instance court on leaving of appellate complaint or protest without examination; against decisions of the appellate instance judge to refuse to accept cassation complaint or protest;
  • Complaints against judge’s decision on determination of punishment to be served in Latvia to individual convicted abroad.
  • Complaints against admissibility of extradition of individual to foreign country;
  • Complaints against decisions of the Prosecutor’s General Office on extradition of individual to the member state of the European Union.

Submission of the cassation complaint

A cassation complaint may be filed by the accused, his/her representative, victim, his/her representative, and the lawful representative, a property owner, whose property is seized in criminal proceedings. A prosecutor has the right to file a cassation protest.

Cassation complaint or protest is to be submitted not later than in 10 days or, if the court has prolonged term of appeal, not later than in 20 days after the day, when the complete ruling of the court of appeal became available. Cassation complaint or protest is to be submitted to the court that had adopted the ruling.

The court that had adopted the ruling announces about cassation complaint or protest and sends copy of cassation complaint or protest submitted to prosecutor and persons, whose interests and rights are involved by this complaint or protest, and also informs the accused party imprisoned about his rights to claim so that he is provided an opportunity to participate in adjudication proceedings.

Cassation complaint and protest may be revoked in accordance with provisions established in the Criminal Procedure Law.

Resolution about verification of cassation complaint or protest

The Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court does not evaluate anew evidences existing in the case. The lawfulness of rulings under the cassation procedure is reviewed only if a claim expressed in a cassation complaint or a protest is substantiated by violation of the Criminal Law or an essential violation of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Section 574 of the Criminal Procedure Law states that the following is acknowledged as a violation of the Criminal Law:

  • Incorrect application of sections of the General Part of the Criminal Law;
  • Incorrect application of Section, Paragraph or Item of the Criminal Law when qualifying a criminal offence;
  • Determination of such type or measure of punishment for the accused which has not been stipulated in the respective sanction of Section of the Criminal Law.

However, Section 575, Paragraph One, of the Criminal Procedure Law indicates essential violations of the criminal proceedings which at all events cause revocation of the court ruling.

Question about verification of ruling under cassation procedure has been decided by the reporting judge of the department appointed by the Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases. The reporting judge, having examined the case, decides on review of the case in written proceedings or in a court hearing, or rejects verification of the lawfulness of a ruling if the expressed claim is not substantiated by violation of the law.

The decision has been written as resolution and it is not reversible.

Written proceedings

A case has been set for review in written proceedings if it is possible to adopt a decision in the case based on the materials existing in the case, following the competency of the cassation instance court. If additional explanations are necessary, or the Department of Criminal Cases finds that the respective case may have a special significance in the interpretation of law standards, the case is heard in a court hearing.

If review of the case is established in written proceedings, composition of the court and rights to declare refusal in 7 days have been announced to persons, who submitted the complaint or protest and persons, whose interests and rights are involved by this complaint or protest.

Resolution about assigning the case for review in court hearing may also be passed in written proceedings.

Composition of the court

Both in written proceedings and in court sessions, the Department of Criminal Cases reviews the case in the composition of three judges.

The decision about complaint or protest regarding decisions that have been adopted in particular cases established in Criminal Procedure Law, has been made by single judge of the department.

Decision of the Department of Criminal Cases

Having adjudicated the case, the Department of Criminal Cases adopts one of following decisions:

  • To leave the ruling unamended, and to decline the cassation complaint or protest;
  • To revoke the ruling in full or in a part and to send the case for new review;
  • To revoke the ruling in full or in a part and to terminate criminal proceedings;
  • To amend the ruling;
  • To terminate cassation proceedings.

If the Department of Criminal Cases establishes such essential infringement of Criminal Procedure Law that the appellate instance court cannot eliminate, then it cancels rulings of courts of both instances and sends case for new review in the first instance court.

If the case is adjudicated in oral proceedings in a court hearing, the operative part of the ruling is proclaimed in a court room.

A decision of the Department of Criminal Cases may not be appealed, and it becomes effective from the moment of its announcement.

Motivated ruling of the Department of Criminal Cases has been signed by all composition of the court not later than in 5 working days after its adoption and it is to be sent together with the case to the court of first instance or to the court, whose ruling was cancelled if decision on sending of a case for new review was adopted.

The copy of ruling of the Department of Criminal Cases has been sent to the claimant and prosecutor. The result of the review has been announced to other persons, whose interests have been involved by the complaint or protest.   

Ruling, on the basis of which security measure related to imprisonment applied to accused has been cancelled, is to be executed immediately.

Review of the case due to newly discovered circumstances

The application and the decision of a judge or prosecutor regarding the newly discovered circumstances in the case in which the decision is adopted by the court of first instance or court of appeal is heard by a judge of the Supreme Court. The application in a case in which the decision was made by the court of cassation is heard by five judges of the Supreme Court who have not previously participated in the review of the case.

The case is being reviewed at the hearing. The prosecutor's participation in the hearing is compulsory. Failure to participate in a court hearing by a person whose rights or legitimate interests are violated by a prosecutor's opinion does not constitute an obstacle to the hearing of a case.

The Department of Criminal Cases adopts one of following decisions:

  • Revokes a court ruling in full or in part, returns criminal proceedings in amount revoked due to newly discovered circumstances and sends the case to Prosecutor’s Office;
  • Revokes a ruling in full or in part, returns criminal proceedings in amount revoked due to newly discovered circumstances and sends the case to the court of corresponding instance for new review;
  • Rejects application;
  • Dismisses proceedings.

New review of rulings effective due to essential violence of material or procedural law standards

The advocate may submit an application about new review of a court ruling that had not been reviewed in cassation instance previously on behalf of sentenced or vindicated person or on behalf of the person, who had been involved in criminal proceedings as accused party, but proceedings were dismissed by the court ruling. The Prosecutor General or the Chief Prosecutor of the Criminal Law Department of the Prosecutor’s General Office may submit protest due to plea of those persons or his/her own initiative.

Application or protest may be submitted if the ruling was adopted by illegitimate composition of the court or it has been established in official investigation that some judge hasn’t signed the ruling as he didn’t participate in adoption of ruling in procedure being established in law. New review of ruling in force is possible also if infringements of Criminal Law or essential infringements of Criminal Procedure Law that may serve as ground for initiation of cassation litigation made by the court, caused illegitimate aggravation of convicted person.

If the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court has received an application or protest for review, it may postpone or reprieve execution of a judgement or a ruling until its new review.

The Department of Criminal Cases reviews applications and protests about judgements and rulings effective anew in composition of three judges of the department in oral or written proceedings.

The Department of Criminal Cases verifies judgement or ruling in contravened part. However, the judgement or ruling may also be checked in full amount in relation to all convicted persons, if there is ground for cancellation of ruling for such law infringements that caused wrong adjudication of the case.

As a result of review of application and protest, the Department of Criminal Cases may leave ruling unamended, to revoke ruling in full or in part and to send the case for new review or dismiss criminal proceedings, to amend the ruling or to dismiss proceedings.