Differences Between Offences in the United States and the Netherlands

If you are considering moving to the Netherlands with a prior criminal conviction in the United States (U.S.), it should be noted that the two respective countries have their differences with the processes of being convicted. The Netherlands uses a last act or proximity test, which is a standard that measures the steps someone takes towards committing a crime but does not actually complete the offense. In contrast, the substantial test, which is an evidence standard that requires the prosecution to present enough evidence to convince the judge and jury that the defendant is guilty beyond doubt, is currently being used in many states across the U.S. According to the Model Penal Code and other various American laws, preparation of a criminal act can be seen as an attempt in the court of law.

Attempt: the Grenswisselkantoor case

However, in the Netherlands preparation is not enough to be criminally convicted. The leading Dutch case on the matter comes from the Grenswisselkantoor case. In this case, two men planned to rob a bank, however, a bank employee became suspicious of the car, as he saw it the day before, and notified the police. The question in the court arose as to whether the intention of the perpetrators to commit a crime was clear before the employee called the police. The answer to this question could not be proven to be yes because the employee’s act of notifying the police stopped the men from acting. Subsequently, the men were not found to be not guilty.

This drastic difference between the American and Dutch laws may mean that some individuals who were convicted of attempted crimes may not be guilty according to Dutch standards. However, each case is context specific and may still be considered a crime in both countries. If you think this may be the case please read our Moving to the Netherlands with a Prior Criminal Conviction article to clear up any potential confusion.

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Omer Omer, LL.M.
Omer Omer, LL.M.
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