Again there were questions during the coronade debate with Minister Grapperhaus: what are the consequences of coronation fines? A criminal record? And perhaps not a Certificate of Good Behaviour (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag, VOG) if an employer asks for one?
The Minister of Justice and Security tried to explain it again and also made a few promises. What about now and what might change? Here are the most important questions and answers:
Does a coronation charge affect your criminal record?
Yes. Anyone who commits an offence with a fine in excess of 100 euros will receive a note in his or her legal file, popularly known as a criminal record. This also includes coronation fines for adults (390 euros).
But that doesn’t mean that such a note also has consequences for getting a VOG. In May, the Ministry of Justice and Security already made it clear in a letter to the House of Representatives that one corona fine does not lead to a VOG refusal. A coronation fine can only have consequences if someone still receives one, but even then it is not necessary. “It’s always tailor-made,” says a spokesperson for the ministry. “Every request stands on its own.”
It is mainly about what function the VOG is needed for. A serious traffic violation can be problematic for someone who wants to become a taxi driver, but not for a job as a bank employee. Multiple corona violations could have consequences for someone who, for example, wants to work in health care. Incidentally, after five years, a note will no longer be included in an assessment anyway.
What’s also important: coronabutes are not just written out. Boos and policemen must first address offenders, then warn them and only then fine them. The Public Prosecutor’s Office then checks again to see whether the triple jeopardy has been followed. In 6,000 of the 23,000 fines issued (especially in the first months of the crisis), this was not the case and the fine was therefore not imposed in the end.
What do Grapperhaus and the Chamber want to change?
In the House of Representatives, no party is happy that adults are given a criminal record by a coronation fine. This afternoon, the House therefore voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for the deletion of this rule.
The minister himself said yesterday that he wanted to go “to the extreme” to do something about it. A suggestion he wanted to look at is the possibility to reduce the fine to below 100 euros. Then there will be no entry in the judicial file.
But Grapperhaus emphasized that there are also offenders “who do this consciously, who don’t care, who bruise people or spit in the face”. In order to prevent these people from ignoring the coronavirus rules more often, Grapperhaus would also like to look at another suggestion: make a note, but leave it for a few months at the most. “Then you’ve seen if someone’s a repeat offender.”
And if you have already been fined?
According to the lawyer Justin Kötter, who assists dozens of people who contest their coronation fines, it can become complicated if the Minister indeed finds a way to prevent a note in the criminal record in the case of a coronation fine. After all, what about all the people who have already received such a note? “Then everything would have to be taken out of the systems, but we’ve never had a situation like this.”
There are over 3,000 legal proceedings pending against coronaboetes, brought by people who believe they were wrongly fined. The first case will come before the cantonal judge on September 28th. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, it remains to be seen whether the verdict in that first case also applies to others. That depends on the argumentation of the judge and the circumstances under which the fine was given.
Kötter is of the opinion that, regardless of the court cases, it should quickly be made clear what will happen with the fines and notes in the criminal record. “That information is important for people who are considering opposing or going to court