A walk through the mills of justice

More than 30,000 fines are issued against us smokers every year. The vast majority of those convicted simply pay the 100 to 1000 francs. And that's it. But what happens in detail when you appeal your fine? We document a walk through the mills of justice.

The control

On August 12, 2001, L. was driving through Aargau. During a routine traffic control, police officers also checked L. When asked whether he was in possession of illegal drugs, L. handed over about two grams of hashish and a joint. The police officers drew up a report (you can find an example of such a report in our legal aid brochure). L. signed the sheet called “brief questioning/declaration”.

The summary penalty order

On September 24, 2001, based on the protocol, a summary penalty order was issued and served on L.. In it he was sentenced to a fine of 60 francs. He was also ordered to pay costs in the amount of 40 francs for the state fee and 30 francs as chancery fees. Which made a total of 130 francs. The payment slip was enclosed.

The objection

On October 16, 2001, L. filed an objection against this summary penalty order. That is, he wrote a letter to the Brugg District Office, which had drafted the summary penalty order. He made the following requests: No fine, but acquittal! As reasons for these requests he stated the following: - he had behaved cooperatively, had handed over the material voluntarily and had not tried to hide it (which would have been possible) - the two grams were a small amount - therefore, it was a minor case - his reputation was good and he did not want to get into trouble professionally because of a punishment.

The note

On October 18, 2001, the investigating judge in charge wrote a note to L.. She asked him to telephone her before she dealt with his objection.

The phone

On October 22, 2001, L. reached the investigating judge by telephone. She explained to him that he had no chance whatsoever. He should withdraw his plea. There was no point - he was guilty anyway. But L. stuck to his guns: he wanted a court hearing on his case.

The order

On November 14, 2001, it was clarified in an order that the case would be transferred to the Brugg District Court. On December 12, 2001, both the responsible public prosecutor and L. were informed that they could submit evidence within ten days.

The summons

On January 7, 2002, he received the summons. In it, he was ordered to appear as a defendant before the District Court of Brugg on January 22, 2002, at 11:15 am.

The postponement

On January 11, L. asked for a postponement of the trial because he wanted to attend an important course to which he would have access for the first time. This was granted on January 16, 2002, and the new date for the trial was set.

The district court

On February 19, 2002, at 8:15 a.m., the trial took place. In addition to the president of the court, the vice-president, two district judges, one district judge and the court clerk were also part of the court. The prosecutor was public prosecutor and the defendant was of course L. The defendant was questioned about his person and the case was reviewed. The defendant L. had dressed well and tried to make a positive impression. He just wanted to try it, it was really available everywhere, he was not a regular consumer…

The verdict

The verdict was issued on February 28, 2002. This contained the following:

  • The defendant L. is guilty of contravention the narcotics law
  • Based on Art. 19a No. 1 and 2 NarcA, the following shall be exempt from punishment
  • The seized hashish and the joint are confiscated and destroyed
  • The costs of the proceedings must be paid by the defendant: Court fee 500 francs, the chancery fee and the expenses of 161 francs

If he wanted to get the full verdict, it would cost more again, L. was told.

The reasons for the verdict

Then, on March 4, 2002, L. applied for the full judgment. First of all, the court states once that all these discussions about changing the handling of cannabis are only discussions. “Since the penal provisions in force are legally binding for the judge, the current discussion in the federal councils about the intended legalization of soft drugs has to be disregarded in the present proceedings.” Basically, the court finds L. guilty. Hashish and a “hashish cigarette” have been found on him. Thus a guilt is beyond doubt. However, it had to be examined whether, due to the small amount found, no punishment should be imposed on the basis of Art. 19b (small amount) or 19a No. 2 (minor case). Regarding the small amount, the district court stated that only one unit of consumption could be meant. However, nine units of consumption were found in the defendant's possession, which is no longer a small amount. On the minor case, the court then says: “The defendant acquired, possessed and partially consumed a 'soft' drug. He is a citizen of otherwise good repute, who (…) first came into conflict with the NarcA (…). The accused procured the drugs in order to try out their effect (…). Even if the motivation of the blameless defendant cannot be readily understood, the court is convinced that it is (…) a one-time incident in his life.” So the defendant is found guilty, but no sentence is pronounced. The costs for the whole procedure (now including the court) have to be paid by the defendant anyway, because he was found guilty. And because of the detailed verdict, the expenses are increased to 319 francs, so that he now has to pay 819 francs.


Anyone who receives a fine for smoking pot can appeal against it. The case described shows that it is possible to get off without a fine. However, only if you have not been conspicuous to the police, can sell yourself well in court and the court does not consist of complete hardliners. The fine is then omitted, but the additional costs go into the money. At the beginning of our case there was a fine of 60 francs plus additional costs of 70 francs. In the end, the fine is 0, but the incidental costs have risen to 819 francs plus chancery fees…. If all the defendants would move on, there would be quite a chaos on the courts. That is why they are trying to get all the objectors to withdraw their plea. As long as only a few people continue to pay a fine, the courts can easily cope with it.

Our summary penalty order collection also needs your fine notices and judgments

Many thanks to L. for making his extensive dossier available! You can also fill our collection with summary penalty orders, judgments, appeals and other documents. We are very interested in your documents! The more cases we can evaluate, the more comprehensive our overview of the repression against pot users in Switzerland will be.

Please send your documents to Documents or contact us.

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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