Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry of Justice

Law on Criminal Procedure, No. 88/2008 - Exerpts

In case of any discrepancies between the original text in Icelandic and the translation, only the original text as published in the Official Gazette of Iceland (Stjórnartíðindi) is authentic. Please note as well that amendments may have been made since the translations were prepared.

Law on Criminal Procedure, No. 88/2008 - Exerpts

Article 6 A judge, including an assessor, is disqualified from conducting a case if:
a. s/he is an accused, a victim or their agent;
b. if s/he has represented the interests of the accused or the victim in the case;
c. if s/he has testified or been called as a witness concerning the circumstances of the case on justified grounds, or has served as an assessor or examiner with regard to the charges in question;
d. if s/he is or has been the spouse of the accused or the victim, is related to them by blood or marriage in a direct line or to the level of second cousin, or related to them to the same degree by adoption;
e. if s/he is connected with or has been connected with an agent of the accused or the victim or attorney in the manner stated in point (d);
f. if s/he is connected with or has been connected with a witness in the case or an assessor or examiner in the manner stated in point (d);
g. if there are other conditions or circumstances which are likely to cast reasonable doubt on his/her impartiality.
A judge shall also recuse him-or herself in a case following the issue of an indictment if s/he has upheld a request for the accused to be remanded in custody pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 95.

Article 10 Hearings must be conducted in public. The judge may however decide on his/her own accord, or after the demand of the prosecutor, the defendant or the victim, that the hearing will take a place in camera, in whole or in part, if this will take place outside of the regular court, the defendant is under 18 years of age, or if he thinks this is otherwise necessary:
a. in order to protect the defendant, the c-victim, a relative of these, a witness, or other entity that the case concerns,
b. because of the necessarily of the defendant, the victim, witness or other entity that the case concerns by maintaining secrecy regarding business interests or comparable situation,
c. because of public interest or for the interests of the state,
d. due to decency,
e. in order to maintain law and order in the courtroom
f. during the investigation of the case and if there is a risk of the case becoming spoiled if the hearing were held in open court,
g. while the witness gives testimony without the witness having to state its name in public, cf. paragraph 8, Article 122.

At the filing of the case the judge may decide once and for all that hearings in the case shall be closed, provided that the decision is recorded whereby the reason for doing so is indicated. In the same way the judge makes a decision about the closing of individual hearings. The person who does not accept the decision of a judge can demand that the judge pass a ruling about whether hearings or individual hearings are to be held in camera.

Although a hearing is held in public the judge may limit the number of hearers to the number that may be accommodated at the court. The judge can also deny access to those who are younger than 15 years, or who are is such condition that their presence is not compatible with good order during hearings, or there is a risk that their presence will cause the defendant or the witness does not does not tell the truth.

The judge may have a person escorted out of a hearing if that person's presence is a disturbance to the peace of the court, or if that person's behaviour is improper in word or in deed. If this person is the defendant, his/her representative, prosecutor, defence lawyer or legal counsel the judge must however usually admonish that person and give him/her a chance to improve his/her conduct before being turned away. The decision of the judge to have a person escorted out of a hearing may be enforced by police power if need be. A person's suspension must be recorded if this involves the defendant, his/her representative or advocate.

In the event that the judge finds that it is sufficient in order to ensure the interests that lie behind paragraph 1. to issue an order prohibiting a public recounting of a hearing according to paragraph 2, Article 11. the judge must then apply this measure instead of closing the hearing.

Article 18 The role of the prosecutor is to ensure, in cooperation with the police, that those who commit crimes will be punished according to lawful sanctions. They do not receive instructions from other authorities regarding the application of the public prosecutions, unless this is specifically provided for in law.

The prosecutors shall work towards establishing what is true and correct, and take into account both those issues that would lead towards finding a verdict of not guilty as well as a verdict of guilty. They must furthermore speed up the process of cases as may be possible.

The prosecutors have a duty to retain confidentiality about matters that they receive information about in the course of their work and that must be kept secret due to prescribed public or private interests. This will cover information about the private affairs of people which it would be natural that would be confidential, information that relate to the working procedures of the public prosecutor and the police, and planned actions in the interests of investigation, and other information that must be kept confidential according to law, government decrees or because of reason. The confidentiality obligation remains even though the person retires.

Article 19 [The Minister]1) supervises the implementation of the public prosecution and may demand that the Director of Public Prosecutions provide documentation and a report on the procedure of individual cases.

The special provisions in law shall remain, wherein it is provided that criminal cases must only be initiated if the [Minister]2) so directs. In such circumstances the Minister places his/her approval of the indictment and the appeal and may in addition instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the procedure in the case, including its investigation.

   1)L. 126/2011, 490. gr.2)L. 162/2010, 194. gr.

Article 20 The Director of Public Prosecutions is the supreme holder of the Office of Public Prosecutions, and is responsible for the decisions of those who work in his/her office. He/she shall be appointed for the Office until further notice by the [Minister]1) and must fulfil the legal requirements for being appointed judge to the Supreme Court. He/she must furthermore enjoy the same terms of employment as the Supreme Court Judges enjoy as the case may be.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has its office in Reykjavík. To assist the Director of Public Prosecutions there is the deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, whom the Minister appoints until further notice, as well as prosecutors, who the Minister appoints for a term of five years at a time. The deputy Director of Public Prosecutions must fulfil the same legal requirements as the Director of Public Prosecutions, but the prosecutors must fulfil the requirements for being appointed to the office of District Court Judge. The Director of Public Prosecutions hires other staff to his/her office, including deputy prosecutors who have completed their official degree or master's degree in law. 
   1)L. 162/2010, 194. gr.

Article 21. The Director of Public Prosecutions issues general rules and instructions on the implementation of the state's prosecuting power. He/she at the same time supervises the implementation of the prosecuting power with other prosecutors.  

The Director of Public Prosecutions initiates a criminal case if a violation involves Chapter X of the Penal Code as well as other such cases where the  [Minister]1) makes the decision about prosecution in the case, cf. paragraph 2 of Article 19. If the conduct that is being discussed involves another or other violations, the Director of Public Prosecutions holds the prosecuting power in this respect. The Director of Public Prosecutions can at any time assume the prosecution of a case, including issuing an indictment, or assume the prosecution before a court of law whenever he/she finds it necessary.

The Director of Public Prosecutions can give instructions to other prosecutors regarding individual cases that they are then obligated to abide by. He/she can stipulate regarding the investigation of a case, prescribe its implementation and supervise it.

The Director of Public Prosecutions makes a decision about an appeal of a district court judgment to the Supreme Court, as well as about referring individual issues for review to the Supreme Court in cases that he/she has initiated.
   1)L. 162/2010, 194. gr.


Article 26 If the Director of Public Prosecutions would be disqualified in handling a case as a judge according to Article 6 he/she shall then recluse him/herself. Then [the Minister]1) will appoint another legally competent person to handle that case. [If the Director of Public Prosecutions finds him/herself disqualified to handle unspecified matters in a limited area during a specific period of time, and in such case [the Minister]1) will appoint another legally competent  person to act as Director of Public Prosecutions in such cases.]2)

If the District Prosecutor would be disqualified in handling a case as a judge under Article 6. he/she must recluse him/herself. The Director of Public Prosecutions will then delegate the handling of the case to another competent person.

If the Chief Commissioner of Police were disqualified in handling a case as judge under Article 6 then the District Prosecutor shall him/herself make a decision regarding prosecution in the case or to delegate it to another Commissioner of Police to do so.

In the event that a person in the same manner as earlier mentioned is disqualified in handling a specific case, in such case he/she may not prosecute the case as prosecutor. Then the Director of Public Prosecutions, or as the case may be the District Prosecutor shall then him/herself handle the prosecution of the case or delegate the case to another competent person to do so.

If an indictment has been issued then the judge shall, either on own initiative or according to a claim by a party, dismiss the case from the court if he/she finds that the prosecutor was disqualified to initiate the case, or that the Commissioner of Police was disqualified to investigate the case. If a person is disqualified to handle a case before a court of law as a prosecutor, then the judge shall in the same manner dismiss the case.
   1)L. 162/2010, 194. gr. 2)L. 80/2009, 4. gr.

Chapter IX Seizure of property

Article 68 Property, including documents, shall be seized if there is reason to believe that such property, or things or information contained therein, may constitute evidence in criminal proceedings, that the property may have been obtained in a criminal manner or that the property may be confiscated. Seizure of property is not permitted if the property contains information on matters which have passed between a suspect and the suspect's legal counsel, or information falling within the scope of the second paragraph of Article 119.

If it is possible to secure evidence for the purposes provided for in the first paragraph without need for seizure of property, a request shall be directed to the owner or possessor of the property to provide access to the property or disclose information that it contains, for example by supplying a copy of a document or other information.

Article 69 The police may seize property without a court order, subject to the second paragraph below.

If property is owned by, or in the possession of, a person other than a suspect and there is no risk of its destruction or concealment, the seizure shall be decided by a court order, unless the express consent of the owner or possessor has been obtained.

If the owner or possessor of seized property refuses to abide by such decision, the dispute may be referred to a judicial authority. However, a request for a release of seized property shall not have the effect of suspending the seizure. 

Article 70 Letters and other remissions in the possession of a postal company or carrier, including telegrams, facsimiles, electronic mail or other remissions in the possession of a telecommunications company may be seized, provided that this is done for the purposes of an investigation relating to a crime which is subject by law to a sentence of imprisonment. If the sender and recipient were not present at the seizure, they shall be notified as promptly as possible, insofar as the notification will not prejudice further investigation of the matter. Investigation of the contents of letters, messages or remissions seized pursuant to this paragraph shall only take place pursuant to a court order.

Printed matter cannot be seized in preparation for confiscation pursuant to the provisions of the Printing Rights Act without prior ruling by a court of law.

Article 71 Seized property shall be inventoried and preserved in a secure manner. If requested by the owner or the person surrendering the property, a copy shall be supplied of the inventory. 

Article 72 Seized property shall be released when it is no longer needed, and at the latest when a case is closed, except in the case of:

a. property confiscated by a judgment of a court of law;

b. property that was obtained by criminal means and has been delivered to persons entitled to the property;

c.  property which has been seized as evidence in a case, unless the person requesting the surrender of the property is in need of an item for the purpose of securing his or her rights or avoiding a loss of rights.

When seized property has been released pursuant to the first paragraph above, the police shall take steps to return the property to the person is rightfully entitled to it.

Article 88 As security for the payment of a fine, cost of legal proceedings and confiscation of gains realised by a criminal act, the police may call for the arrest of a suspect's property if a risk is perceived of assets otherwise being concealed or lost or their value significantly reduced.

The implementation and effect of arrest pursuant to this Article are subject to the same rules as the arrest of assets in general, with the exception that security need not be posted, legal proceedings need not be initiated for confirmation of the arrest, and no charges shall be paid for the actions.

Arrest under this Article shall be terminated if the accused person has been acquitted by a final judgment of payment of a fine or cost of proceedings or subjection to confiscation of gains. The same shall apply if criminal prosecution has been discontinued or if an  investigation does not lead to prosecution. The suspect then has the right to cancellation of any measures taken to secure the arrest. Arrest shall also be terminated if a suspect makes the payments that the arrest is intended to secure.

Article 102 According to the provisions of this Chapter you may submit a request to the district court regarding certain action during the investigative stage that will need the involvement of the judge according to other provisions of this Act, including a request that the defendant, the victim or other witness must give an affidavit under Article 59.

In addition to what is stated in paragraph 1. you may present a dispute before the district court about the lawfulness of any investigative action made by police or the prosecution. Furthermore any dispute about the rights of the defendant, his/her defence lawyer or attorney, including their requests for certain investigative action, or the rights of the victim, his/her representative or legal counsel.

Article 108The burden of proof regarding the guilt of the accused and events that may be counted in his/her favour, rests upon the prosecution.

Article 109The judge shall assess on each occasion whether or not there has been produced sufficient evidence, that can not be contested through reasonable arguments, for every single item that involves guilt and the determination of penal sanctions for a violation, including which value to place on the statements of the defendant, testimonies, court appointed assessments and examinations, documents and other visible evidence regarding proof.   

The judge shall also furthermore assess if need be which value, in the form of proof, those allegations have, which do not directly regard the item which is being proven, but assumptions may be drawn from that. 

There is no need to prove that which is commonly known at the place and time when the judgment or ruling is rendered.

Article 111 The judgment shall be based on the evidence presented during the court proceedings.

The judge may take into account as evidence, depositions which the accused, the victim or other witnesses have given before the court prior to the indictment according to Articles 59 and 106. However the deponents must reappear before the court during the court proceedings, if at all possible and if one of the parties to the case requests so, or the judge otherwise feels there is reason to do so. In the event that there is a violation of Chapter XXII. of the Penal Code, and the victim has not yet reached 15 years of age, he/she does not have to appear before the court again unless the judge finds there is a special reason to do so.

In the event that a witness has not appeared before the court and it is not possible to do so during the court proceedings, but however a statement has been made before the police or other authority when the case was being investigated, the judge will then decide whether or not such statement has any value as proof, and what it is.

Artcle 145 When the prosecutor has received all the evidence in the case and made sure that the investigation has been completed, he/she examines whether or not the defendant should be indicted or not. If the prosecutor feels that what has already been gathered is not sufficient or probable for conviction, he/she makes no further action, but otherwise he/she initiates a criminal case against the defendant, according to Article 152, cf. however Article 146.

Article 171 Court procedure must be kept up to speed as far a possible.

It is of no consequence at which point, statements, objections and evidence appear during the court proceedings.

Article 209 Judgment shall be rendered as soon as possible after the case has been submitted for judgment and ruling, and no later than when four weeks have passed from that date. If this is not feasible and if the case has been orally argued, then the oral argumentation of the case must be remade, if this is thought necessary.


Disclaimer: This section of the site details available translations on legislation relating to the Government Offices in Iceland. In case of any discrepancies between the translations and the original text in Icelandic, the original text as published in the Icelandic Legal Gazette prevails.

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