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A violation is the violation of an applicable legal norm or otherwise specified rule (directive) .

Criminal law

The term of criminal law denotes the offense (French contravention ; ital. Contravvenzione ; ndl. Overtreding ; span. Falta ) the weakest form of a criminal offense (less serious than the offense and the crime ). This tripartite division, which is typical of continental European law, is based on the basic system of criminal acts ( contravention - délit - crime ) developed under Napoleon in the French Code Pénal Impérial (1810 ).

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the violations from the Reich Criminal Code of 1871 until they were abolished by the Introductory Act to the Law on Administrative Offenses (EGOWiG) of 1968 and the Introductory Act to the Criminal Code (EGStGB) of 1974 were criminal offenses with a prison sentence of up to 6 weeks or A fine of up to 500 DM could be punished ( e.g. mouth robbery ). Initially, with the EGOWiG, the practically particularly significant violations of road traffic law were converted into fines , many other violations then subsequently with the entry into force of the EGStGB. Certain regulations were finally decriminalized as part of the reform .

In many other European and non-European legal systems (especially the Romance legal system ) there are still violations (in the sense of petty offenses that can be prosecuted under criminal law ). In practice, they usually take a position comparable to the German regulatory offenses. For example, a violation in Swiss law constitutes a “criminal act of a minor nature”, which is sanctioned by “imposing a fine”. In Austria , on the other hand, just like in Germany, there are no longer any criminal offenses relevant to criminal law: All criminal acts are either a crime or misdemeanor, while minor offenses punishable by administrative penalties ( administrative offenses ) are generally not to be regarded as criminal offenses .

In the Anglo-Saxon legal system there are different equivalents: While the penal systems, which are dependent on English common law, know so-called summary offenses (criminal offenses that are usually judged without indictment , i.e. not before a jury), in the USA one speaks of infractions which are violations that can not be punished with deprivation of liberty and in minor cases, often not as a crime ( crime ), but as civil cases are (roughly comparable to offenses).


  1. ^ Draft of an introductory law to the law on administrative offenses (EGOWiG) BT-Drs. V / 1319 of January 20, 1967, p. 51
  2. cf. Art. 103 Swiss Criminal Code : "Infringements are acts that are threatened with a fine."
  3. cf. Section 17 ( Memento of July 2, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) of the Austrian Criminal Code ("Classification of criminal acts")