Women and Justice: Court: Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court)

Domestic Case Law

NJA 2007 s. 547 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant was charged with multiple counts of assault and unlawful threats under the combined classification of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. grov kvinnofridskränkning). In the Court of Appeal, the defendant requested that the court allow evidence regarding the victim’s character.  The prosecutor and the victim objected, arguing that the evidence was meant only to tarnish the woman’s reputation and had no legal relevance to the present case.  As his proffer, the defendant claimed that the witnesses would testify that the woman was a pathological liar and that she committed fraud and extortion by threatening to report a relative for molestation if he did not pay her. The Court of Appeal excluded portions of the proffered evidence and the defendant appealed that decision. On review, the Supreme Court held that because the prosecution relied primarily on the victim’s testimony, her credibility was a key factor in the case.  As such, it determined that the Court of Appeal denied the defendant a fair trial by excluding the proffered character evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case.

NJA 2016 s. 819 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

Two men were traveling in a car with a sleeping woman.  While the woman was still asleep, and under the influence of narcotics, the defendants raped her.  Both were convicted of rape.  One of the defendants appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which found that, because the defendant raped the woman and subsequently helped his co-defendant move the woman from the front to the back seat of the car for the purpose of raping her, he was properly convicted.  Swedish law classifies multiple acts of rape from multiple persons as aggravated rape.  Here, the defendants committed some of the acts together and the individual acts in succession, so the acts were viewed as aggravated rape.

NJA 2013 s. 548 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The defendant suspected that his then-wife was unfaithful.  In order to determine if his suspicion was correct, defendant forced his wife onto a bed, pulled her legs apart, and inserted two fingers into her vagina. During this ordeal, the defendant had also threatened her.  Despite the defendant’s alleged purpose, the Supreme Court found that his actions were sexual in nature and that they constituted rape.  Although sexual assault may be viewed as less severe if the victim wakes up and objects, that concept did not apply. Here, the defendant used actual and threatened violence in a manner that was humiliating to the victim and, as a result, the Supreme Court held that the crime was not to be classified as “less severe” (Sw. mindre grovt), but as a rape of the “normal” degree (Sw. av normalgraden).

NJA 2015 s. 1024 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Defendant, an 18-year-old man, was convicted of rape and sentenced to one year in prison. The question for the Supreme Court was whether the jail sentence was too long, given the defendant’s age. The Supreme Court noted that that the punishment for rape of the “normal degree” (Sw. normalgraden) is between two and four years’ imprisonment.  Normally, courts reduce jail sentences by fifty percent when the defendant is 18 years old.  However, for long jail sentences, the courts have discretion to further reduce the punishment.  The court also recognized that punishments other than jail sentences also may be considered. Given the crime, the court determined that community service was inappropriate, but reduced the defendant’s sentence to probation and three months’ imprisonment.  Though rape is a serious offense, the Supreme Court adhered to the principle that imprisoning young individuals should be avoided, to the extent possible.

NJA 2017 s. 316 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2017)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

K.K. had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old child. The issue before the court was whether KK had reasonable reason to believe that the child was under the age of 15 and, thus, whether the sexual act constituted rape against a child.  The child (Sw. målsäganden) initially lied about her age to K.K. but, according to her own testimony, she revealed her true age to KK before they had sex.  The Supreme Court concluded that the child’s age was unclear and, in any event, that her testimony was not trustworthy because the defendant’s attorney was not present when she was initially questioned and she was not subject to cross examination. As a result, the Supreme Court held that evidence was insufficient to support a conviction.

NJA 1999 s. 102 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

B.B. was tried for repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend, L.L., in their home. The question the Supreme Court considered was whether previous assault convictions could be used to convict B.B. of a related crime – violation of L.L.’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning).  The elements of violating of a woman’s integrity are as follows: (i) the defendant and the alleged victim are, or had been, in a relationship equivalent to a marriage, and (ii) that the acts constitute repeated violations of the woman’s integrity and have been intended to seriously harm her self-esteem. The Supreme Court noted that B.B. had been assaulting L.L. on an on-going basis and that B.B. had already been convicted for some of the assaults. Although the Supreme Court confirmed that all assaults generally could be taken into consideration – even the assaults for which B.B. had already been convicted – because some of B.B.’s assault convictions predated the law against violating a woman’s integrity, the law could not be retroactively applied to consider B.B.’s assault convictions.

NJA 2008 s. 1010 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

T.H. was accused of assault and unlawfully threatening (Sw. olaga hot) his girlfriend, L.K. The alleged assault consisted of dragging her by the hair and pressing a knife against her throat, while threatening to kill her. T.H. also allegedly threatened to bomb L.K.’s apartment, and he told her that he would kill her if she called the police. The Supreme Court held that although the elements were present to establish an assault and the making of an unlawful threat, the defendant was not necessarily guilty of both crimes. According to the court, if an act is considered closely connected, and also subordinate, to another act, the defendant may be convicted of only one of the acts. The Supreme Court held that the threat was the more serious crime and that the assault could possibly elevate the unlawful threat to an “aggravated” threat, but the Supreme Court declined to do so in this case. Instead, the court convicted T.H. only of making an unlawful threat. Two Supreme Court judges dissented, arguing that the threat should have been classified as aggravated.

NJA 2005 s. 712 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

L.G. was accused of violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning), assault (Sw. misshandel) and rape of his wife, C.G.  Because the couple’s three children were present when the alleged abuse occurred, L.G. was also charged with violation of their integrity.  The Supreme Court found that C.G.’s statements were more credible than L.G.’s, partly because the couple’s three children concurred with C.G.’s version of events.  Accordingly, due to L.G.’s repeated violation of C.G.’s integrity, the Supreme Court found L.G. guilty of violating C.G.’s integrity.  Regarding the rape charge, however, the Supreme Court did not find sufficient evidence to convict L.G.  Aside from C.G.’s testimony – which left doubt as to the time of the alleged rape – there was no evidence to substantiate the rape charge.  Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the rape charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  Nonetheless, because the court determined that L.G. had assaulting C.G. and their children, the court sentenced L.G. to two years and six months imprisonment.