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The Norwegian legal system

The Storting

The Storting exercises the legislative power in Norway. This means that it is the Storting that passes the formal laws (acts, directives and regulations).

Legal protection

In Norway we enjoy legal protection. This means that no one can be sentenced or punished without a basis for this existing in law.

©Jarl Fr. Erichsen/Scanpix©Jarl Fr. Erichsen/Scanpix

Penal provisions

Many laws have penal provisions attached to them. This means that the law stipulates legal sanctions if the law is not complied with.


Criminality means that one of these penal provisions is not being complied with. In order for an action to be criminal, the law must state that the action is punishable.

Society is constantly changing and what is punishable changes over time. Up until 1972, for example, it was illegal for a man and a woman to live together without being married. In 2002, 17% of the 16-79 age group lived together without being married.

Recorded crime has risen dramatically in recent years. The number of cases investigated more than doubled between 1980 and 2000. Burglaries, theft and other financial crime accounted for 67.2% of all investigated offences in 2001. Violent crime accounted for 7.5%, while drug-related crimes accounted for 14.2%. More than 40% of people charged and punished for crimes are young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. Typical crimes carried out by young adults are theft, burglary and vandalism. The most common reason for imprisonment in Norway is drink driving, in other words that someone drives a car after drinking alcohol.

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