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Psychiatric diagnosis and criminal record determine the courts’ decisions

Ejnar Alex Kørner1, Peter Gottlieb2, Gorm Gabrielsen3 & Liv Os Stølan2

3. feb. 2014
2 min.


Section 69 of the Danish Penal Code implies the possibility of sentencing also non-psychotic offenders to treatment when this is considered expedient. The aim of this study was to analyse which factors influence the courts’ decisions to sentence offenders to psychiatric treatment instead of punishment.


The psychiatric statements of the Danish Medico-Legal Council from 1 April 2005 to 31 December 2007 were screened retrospectively to sample all cases processing non-psychotic offenders under Section 69. Analyses were performed using logistic regression with a verdict of a measure of psychiatric treatment as the response variable as opposed to punishment; the following reference variables were used as the main explanatory
variables: demographic data, diagnosis, prior and present charges, and psychiatric history. The selection of the material thus ensures diagnostic validity.


A psychiatric diagnosis is clearly the most decisive factor associated with a psychiatric treatment measure, but also psychiatric history and prior offences have a significant impact. The present charge only has limited influence.


Section 69 of the Danish Penal Code is still used as intended, i.e. treatment measures are given according to psychiatric needs and take into consideration the offender’s criminal behaviour.


This study received funding from the Ministry of Health and the Health Foundation (Helsefonden).


The Danish Data Protection Agency has approved the study. Approval from the Danish Data Protection Agency was obtained (file no. 2012-41-1272).

CORRESPONDENCE: Ejnar Alex Kørner. E-mail:

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available with the full text of this article at

Reference: Dan Med J 2014;61(2):A4771