Conflict Regulation: Connections create solutions
NEUSTART is involved in promoting help instead of punishment (diversion).
MEDIATION IN PENAL MATTERS (Tatausgleich)
An out-of-court settlement - Mediation in Penal Matters (Tatausgleich) - is an alternative to a trial in the case of misdemeanour. The conflict regulator or mediator, an experienced social worker, creates the contact between the suspect and the victim and with both of them he tries to achieve a settlement or reconciliation without a trial or a conviction. As a result, the suspect does not become criminalised but evades criminal record.
Wolfgang only wanted to have a nice evening with a couple of friends. At the nightclub, however, it came to a quarrelling. Suddenly, Wolfgang became involved in a fight, although he usually dislikes physical violence. Now he has to answer for committing a criminal assault.
That's how it works!
A social worker creates the contact between the suspect and the victim. The objective is that victim and suspect get to know and learn to understand each other in order to compensate for the damage caused and make forgiving possible. Furthermore, a fair and acceptable solution for all persons involved in the conflict has to be granted.
Preconditions for Tatausgleich
- proposal of the public prosecutor
- categorisation of the offence as minor
- agreement of the victim
- willingness of the suspect to talk with the victim, to compensate for damages, and to accept further conditions
Success speaks for itself
An integral factor for the success of Mediation in Penal Matters is acceptance by the justice. Public Prosecution Services and courts assign around 5.000 cases a year to NEUSTART. NEUSTART has over 30 years of experience with circa 168,000 conflict regulations in which 300,000 persons, either as suspect or as victim, have been involved. In 70 percent of the cases, the social worker was able to bring suspect and victim to an agreement, with juveniles the success rate is even above 85 percent. The rate for repeat offences with Mediation in Penal Matters according to a study of the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology of the University of Vienna (Institut für Strafrecht und Kriminologie) is around 10 percent, whereas the rate for repeat offences of persons, who have been convicted by a court for a comparable offence, is with 22 percent more than double as high.
COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDERS
Legally, there is also another option for minor and medium offences: Community Service Orders, which can be delivered solely or in combination with reparation for the caused damage or another compensation for the consequences of the offence. The objective is to select an adequate institution and task for the suspect and to give him or her advice and support.
Ines got two top-up card mobile phones from a friend and resold them. It turned out that the mobile phones derived from a theft. Ines thereby becomes suspected of the concealment of stolen goods. The Public Prosecutor makes Ines the offer to do 30 hours of community service. Ines acknowledges her mistake and works for an animal shelter; once the community service has been provided, the criminal proceedings are stopped.
Unpaid, but not unrewarded
Gratuitous provision of community services means working for a public utility institution without payment. Concurrent education, training or occupation have to be considered for the fixation of the community service; that means, it shall be possible to make up for a failure without risking an education or occupation. The mediators of NEUSTART help with and support the efforts for a compensation for the offence. They report about the accomplishment of the community service order to the responsible public prosecutor or judge, but beyond that, they are sworn to secrecy as a matter of principle.