Information on penalties, measures and pre-trial detention have been made available since 1984.
Sanctions for adults are: Custodial sentence, financial penalty, community service and fines. Thefollowing measures can be imposed: Indefinite incarceration and in and outpatient treatment of mental disorders or addictive behaviour. For young adults who were under 25 at the time of committing the offence, the Penal Code provides the possibility of placement in an institution for young adults.
Main sanctions, measures and pre-trial detention 2020 - 2021
Total convictions with main sanction2
Verdicts with provisional pre-trial custody
of which up to 2 days
Total verdicts with measures
¹ For adults only felonies and misdemeanours are included, because contraventions are only recorded in the register of convictions as an exception. ² One main sanction is established per verdict and this is the only one shown in the table. For this reason sanctions are ranked according to their severity and only the most severe sanction is shown. For adults, custodial sentence is considered to be the most severe sanction, followed by financial penalties, community service, fines and measures.
Source: Criminal conviction statistics (SUS), state of the Register of Criminal Conduct: 31.08.2023
Impact of sanctions law reforms on practice
The penalty system has undergone far-reaching reforms over the last few decades. In the 2007 reform, the aim was to reduce prison sentences of less than 6 months (suspended and unsuspended). These were to be replaced by fines and community service. In the 2018 counter-reform, the aim was to reintroduce short custodial sentences in their entirety. In a publication, the FSO has assessed whether the objectives set by the legislator have been achieved by analyzing the impact of these reforms on judicial practice and the execution of sentences.
One of the aims of the 2007 reform of the penal code was to reduce the number of prison sentences of less than six months. This objective was achieved, as these sentences fell from 52 000 in 2006 to less than 4 000 in 2007. They were mainly replaced by suspended monetary penalties. In the case of short suspended prison sentences, the figures remained very stable between 2007 and 2017. On the other hand, for short non-suspended prison sentences, the figures varied significantly between 2007 and 2017. Specifically, these figures fell sharply right after the introduction of the 2007 reform, then rapidly rose again: 11 515 convictions involving a short non-suspended prison sentence were pronounced in 2006; 3 649 in 2007; and 9 224 in 2013.
However, this development does not amount to a return to the old system of penalties (i.e. the one in force prior to the 2007 reform), but reflects the sharp increase in the number of convicted offenders without a B or C permit in the mid-2010s. In fact, for this category of offenders, as neither the pecuniary penalty nor community service could often be carried out, these sentences were often not even imposed. As a corollary to the increase, then decrease, in the number of the "transient" criminality, the number of short unsuspended prison sentences also increased, then decreased. Despite its spectacular impact on judicial practice, the 2007 reform has had only a very modest influence on prison entries. The hoped-for streamlining of the sentence enforcement system therefore failed to materialize: even though many people were sentenced to a pecuniary penalty from 2007 onwards, a large proportion of them ended up serving their sentence in a custodial institution (because they did not pay for the fines).
One of the aims of the 2018 counter-reform of the penal code was to once again authorize judges to make extensive use of short custodial sentences (suspended or unsuspended). In practice, however, there has only been a limited impact. As far as short suspended prison sentences are concerned, it was more likely that judges have been handing down a few again since 2018, but far fewer than in 2006 (40 682 in 2006 versus 874 in 2022). When it comes to short non-suspended custodial sentences, only Swiss citizens were more likely to be sentenced to these penalties from 2018 onwards. This is because the 2018 counter-reform abolished community service as a sentence; the Swiss who often benefited from it between 2007 and 2017 were then instead sentenced to short non-suspended prison sentences.
Publication to be downloaded in German or in French
Expulsion under Art. 66a SCC
The statistics on criminal convictions of the Federal Bureau of Statistics are elaborated based on the entries of the final convictions in the Swiss Convictions Register (VOSTRA). Expulsion is recorded in VOSTRA together with other sanctions (sentences and measures) and is therefore part of the criminal justice statistics.
A table with the pronounced expulsion is elaborated from this data. It contains information on the type and duration of the expulsion as well as on the characteristics of the convicted person such as gender, age and residence status.
The Federal Bureau of Statistics has developed a calculation method for the application rate of the mandatory expulsion. For all convictions of offenses under Article 66a of the Criminal Code and for which a mandatory expulsion should be ordered, it is shown whether an expulsion has been pronounced or not. Since 2019, this has been possible for all offenses in the catalog of Article 66a. The application rates show breakdowns by the characteristics of the person and the sentences. Cantonal data are also available:
A publication on the application rate’s calculation and an analysis of factors increasing the risk for expulsion were based on the data from 2017.
Publication to be downloaded in German or in French
Since 2021, figures on the application of the hard-case clause are available.
Figures showing the nationalities of those sentenced to expulsion are available since 2017.
The Federal Statistical Office's collection of data on the convictions of minors and adults is based on extracts from the centrally managed register of convictions. This statistic has been compiled since 1946, and partially with data from 1936. For the years prior to 1948, statistical results are available in the form of tables, copies of which can be consulted or downloaded.
The continuation of the historical time series for minors can be found for the years 1984-1998 under "Historical data, minors, 1984-1998".
Detailed data on the convictions of minors from 1999 onwards are available on the Swiss Statistics website. Detailed conviction figures for adults are available for the years from 1984 onwards.
The historical conviction data cannot be compared with one another nor with data from the current data collection. Data must first be harmonised and aligned with population data.