Prosecution – Denmark

1. Crimes
2. Making a Police Statement
3. Consequences

If, in a raid, police pick up an immigrant sex worker who has no residence permit or work permit, they will initiate an enquiry against the woman regarding immigration offences.
Criminal proceedings will also be initiated if the woman has committed an offence in another matter. In this case the woman is an accused party.


1. Crimes

Working as a sex worker can be penalised as a crime under following conditions:

  • If the woman works without an adequate work permit; for more details see Sex Work.
  • If the woman takes money from the client in advance although not willing to offer her services. She only commits a crime if it can be proven that she never intended to work.
  • Facilitating prostitution is a crime, that means that any person who gives a room in a hotel or a bar to a professional prostitute can be penalised either by a fine or by imprisonment (§ 229 (2) Danish Penal Code).
  • Pimping is a crime, that means that any person who causes someone to seek profit by working as a prostitute can be penalised (§ 228 Danish Penal Code).
  • The same takes place if someone, for the purpose of gain, causes another person to take up the services of a prostitute. If a person prevents someone from giving up her or his profession as a prostitute he or she will be penalised. Keeping a brothel will be penalised (§ 228 (1) Danish Penal Code).
  • If someone incites a person under the age of 21 to work as a prostitute he or she will be penalised as well. It is a crime if someone gets a person under the age of 21 to leave the country in order that the person works voluntarily or is forced to work as a prostitute abroad (§ 228 (2) Danish Penal Code).
  • A person commits a crime who, for the purpose of gain, promotes prostitution by acting as an intermediary, or who derives profit from professional prostitution (§ 229 (1) Danish Penal Code).

2. Making a Police Statement

A. Right to Remain Silent

When a suspect is interrogated by the police, she has the right to remain silent. Even in answering questions about other people, she need not say anything which incriminates her.

B. Interpreter

The accused is entitled to the services of an interpreter in her own language. If she feels unable to trust the interpreter, she is entitled to refuse him or her.

C. Lawyer

The accused is entitled to her lawyer’s presence at the hearing. The woman has the right to answer questions only in the presence of her lawyer.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

D. Custody

The accused may be held in police custody, but not for more than 24 hours. Then a judge must make a decision as to whether to detain her for examination purposes or for deportation. The woman is entitled to a lawyer’s services during this process.

E. Victims of Trafficking in Women

The Danish Government has made an action plan to combat trafficking in women. The plan contains the following elements on support for victims of trafficking:

  • Shelters for victims of trafficking in women.
    During their stay in a shelter, which may normally last a maximum of 15 days, victims will have their situation clarified and their return prepared.
  • Establishment of cooperation agreements between parties from the police, social services and public health authorities as well as relevant NGOs, for the purpose of preparing and implementing the return of victims.
  • Development of international networks with Danish and non-Danish NGOs.
  • Development of embassy networks, where relevant Eastern European embassies are to be informed about the initiatives of the Danish action plan and, in their capacity, build bridges to the authorities of the victims’ home countries.
No Criminal Proceedings Against the Victim/Witness:
If the woman is the victim of a serious crime (trafficking in women, serious acts of violence) and is prepared to give evidence as a witness, criminal proceedings against her may, at the authorities’ discretion, be abandoned: that is, there are no criminal proceedings against the woman, and she may not be taken into custody for examination purposes. As Denmark does not have a system of plea bargaining, this will only be done at the discretion of the authorities in very rare and particular circumstances, and cannot not be expected as an option.
The woman is not and cannot be obliged to testify against the trafficker or the perpetrator.

3. Consequences

A. Immigration Offences

A woman who has committed an immigration offence ( illegal residence, illegal employment, etc.) will be expelled from Denmark if she does not have a residence permit. In this case she may be imprisoned on remand pending deportation and subsequently be deported.

B. Other Crimes

Where administrative offences have been committed, the woman will be issued with a warning and can also be fined. An administrative offence has no consequences for her work permit or her residence permit.
If other crimes have been committed, the woman will be expelled or may be imprisoned on remand pending deportation and subsequently be deported.
If investigation proceedings are initiated against the woman, she should always seek a lawyer’s advice!
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