Juvenile criminal law

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Children, adolescents and criminal law

In Switzerland, minors who commit offences between the ages of 10 and 18 are subject to the special regime of juvenile criminal law and procedure. The purpose of juvenile criminal law is to promote the protection of minors and is primarily aimed at achieving educational or restorative objectives.

This area of criminal law is unique in several respects. It has its own rules of procedure (PPPin), as well as a specific code, the federal law governing the penal status of minors (DPMin).

In the field of juvenile criminal law, the authorities for prosecution, judgment and execution of sentences and measures are not the same as in common criminal law.

In the canton of Vaud, this authority is the Juvenile Court. Similarly, the sanctions applicable to juvenile offenders are largely different from those applicable to adults. This will be the case in particular with reprimands and personal benefits, which are unknown in adult criminal law. As for custodial sentences and fines, they are reserved for minors over 15 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.

The lawyers of Penalex Avocats SA are fully aware of the specificities of criminal proceedings before the authorities competent in juvenile criminal law.

Key points

  • Applicable law: Federal law on the penal status of minors (DPMin)
  • Applicable procedure: Criminal procedure for minors (PPMin)
  • Minors concerned: Minors between 10 and under 18 years of age at the time of the offence
  • Authorities involved: Juvenile Court
  • Sentences Reprimand (22 DPMin), personal service (23 DPMin), fines of up to CHF 2,000 for minors over 15 years of age (24 DPMin), custodial sentence of up to 1 year for minors of 15 years of age and over (25 al. 1 DPMin), custodial sentence of up to 4 years for minors of 16 years of age and over in case of serious offences (25 al. 2 DPMin)
  • Measures: Supervision (12 DPMin), personal assistance (13 DPMin), outpatient treatment (14 DPMin), placement (15 DPMin), prohibition of activity, prohibition of contact and geographical prohibition (16a DPMin)