The official statistics of justice reflect the volume of work of, and the work completed by, courts and public prosecution offices. In addition, they collect data on specific demographic and factual legal variables in the areas of criminal prosecution by the courts, the execution of sentences and probation assistance. Hence, the statistics of justice provide the judicial administration with information for planning and monitoring the efficient use of resources by the judicial authorities. Besides, they offer important basic data to political decision-makers for evaluating and advancing existing laws and policies relating to criminal law. Last but not least, the statistics are used by criminologists as a basis for their research and by the general public as a source of information about, for instance, criminal offences registered by the courts.
The judicial system comprises several branches, namely constitutional jurisdiction, general jurisdiction (civil, family and criminal law matters) and special jurisdiction (labour, administrative, fiscal and social law matters). Besides, there are some special service and disciplinary courts for members of certain occupations.
The main actors in the German legal system are independent judges who are subject only to the law, senior judicial officers, public prosecutors (some of them working at local courts) who act as counsels for the prosecution in criminal proceedings, and lawyers as authorised representatives in court of the parties to the proceedings.
Jurisdiction is exercised, on the one hand, by courts of general jurisdiction dealing with civil, family and criminal matters, and on the other, by special courts dealing, for instance, with matters of administrative or fiscal law. Each of these branches of jurisdiction is divided into several levels or instances: four instances for courts of general jurisdiction, ranging from local courts via regional and higher regional courts to the Federal Court of Justice; three instances for labour, administrative and social courts; and two instances for fiscal courts. It is generally possible to appeal from decisions of first-instance courts and to have these decisions examined by higher-instance courts in appellate proceedings on fact and law or appellate proceedings on a point of law. While the factual assessment of a case is in the focus of appellate proceedings on fact and law, appellate proceedings on a point of law deal only with the legal assessment of a case.
The criminal prosecution statistics provide information on defendants adjudicated and defendants convicted. The general Penal Code is applied to adults (21 years or over), while juveniles (14 to under 18 years) are treated in accordance with juvenile criminal law. Depending on their moral and intellectual maturity, young adults (18 to under 21 years) are tried under either the general Penal Code or juvenile criminal law.
The statistics on the execution of sentences provide information on penal institutions, their occupancy capacities and the actual occupancy rates in selected calendar months (number of convicted prisoners by type of imprisonment) as well as on changes in the numbers of inmates during the reference month (prisoner flow). Data on personal (age, marital status) and criminological variables (criminal offence, type and length of imprisonment, criminal record) are only collected for convicted prisoners and persons in preventive detention as of 31 March.
The statistics on probation assistance provide information on cases of probation supervised by professional probation officers. Offenders can be placed on supervised probation if they have received a suspended sentence or if, after serving part of a sentence of imprisonment or youth custody, they are released prematurely. The number of cases of supervised probation is higher than the number of offenders placed on supervised probation. The main reason for this is that an offender who has been convicted for several offences in separate proceedings may be serving several terms of supervised probation at the same time. In the statistics, cases of supervised probation that ended after successful probation are contrasted with cases where supervised probation was revoked.
Termination of supervised probation by reason for termination
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© Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden 2015
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