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Decriminalization is a term used in the legal political discussion and the reform of criminal law .

Logically, decriminalization requires that a behavior is criminalized . The process of criminalization represents the counterpart to decriminalization. The demand for decriminalization is that certain types of behavior are no longer punishable (and the associated special disapproval from the legal community). An example of decriminalization is the removal of violations from the 1974 Penal Code and the associated creation of the concept of administrative offenses (1968); some criminal offenses became such, some criminal offenses were completely deleted.

Another concern of the criminal law reformers was the decriminalization of prostitution , which is currently only to be prosecuted insofar as it is forced or otherwise exploited in a way that is harmful to young people (for example in the vicinity of kindergartens, schools and similar institutions) or in Restricted areas .

Finally, decriminalization is discussed in the area of ​​drug policy and in the context of migration policy . In connection with illegal drugs, the main question is whether criminal law is the appropriate means to combat the dangers of drug use and to ensure the protection of minors (see legalization of drugs ). In connection with the irregular stay of foreigners in Germany, the question is whether this should continue to be assessed as a criminal offense.

Proposals are also being discussed to decriminalize less serious crimes such as shoplifting , minor damage to property or driving in the black . These proposals are not about denying the injustice character of the acts, but about using the “precious resource law” more efficiently by relieving the burden on the police and the judiciary.


Examples of acts that have been decriminalized in the Federal Republic of Germany:

  • Adultery : abolished criminal liability in 1969
  • Homosexuality : withdrawal of the criminal offense of § 175 StGB (male homosexuality) in the reforms of 1969, 1973 and 1994.
  • Prostitution : Amendment of §§ 180a I, 181a II StGB on January 1st, 2002 creates the possibility to offer safe, hygienic and comfortable working conditions as well as the conclusion of employment contracts with impunity.
  • Gross nonsense : Replacement of § 360 Abs. 1 Nr. 11 StGB (old version) by § 118 OWiG on January 1st, 1975 (at the same time renaming of the offense to "nuisance of the general public").

On October 14, 2015, the Bundestag parliamentary group Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen submitted a draft law to the German Bundestag to decriminalize people without residence status .

See also


  1. ^ Rainer Prätorius : Decriminalization and alternative sanctions . In: Lange HJ. (Editor) Criminal Policy. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2008
  2. Jannis Brühl: fare dodging and shoplifting: don't the police have anything better to do? . 17th April 2015
  3. ^ Justice: Free shot for shoplifters . The mirror . Issue 4/1986. January 20, 1986, pp. 56-60 ( online )
  4. Investigation of the effects of the Prostitution Act: Final report ( memento of the original from February 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Social Science Women's Research Institute, Freiburg.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Draft law to decriminalize people without residence status . Bundestag printed matter 18/6346. October 14, 2015