Criminal Code (Germany)

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basic data
Title: criminal code
Former title: Criminal Code for the North German Confederation
Criminal Code Criminal Code for the German Reich
Shortcut: StGB
Type: federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Also note §§ 3-7, 9 StGB for crimes abroad
legal matter: criminal law
Proof of locality : 450-2
Original version from: May 15, 1871
( RGBl. p. 127)
May 31, 1870 StGB for the North German Confederation
( Federal Law Gazette NDB 1870, No. 16, page 197)
Effective date: January 1, 1872
June 8, 1870 (North German Confederation)/1. January 1870 (German Empire)
New announcement from: November 13, 1998
( BGBl. I p. 3322 )
Last change by: Art. 2 G of November 22, 2021
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 4906, 4910 )
Effective date of the
last change:
November 24, 2021
(Art. 22 G of November 22, 2021)
GESTA : M001
web link: Text of the Criminal Code
Please note the information on the applicable version of the law .

The Criminal Code ( StGB , if necessary also dStGB ) regulates the core matter of substantive criminal law in Germany . It determines the prerequisites and legal consequences of criminal acts by taking a position on fundamental dogmatic questions of the theory of crime for practical application. Numerous criminal law provisions are regulated as ancillary criminal law in other laws.

The Criminal Code is divided into a "General" (§§ 1 to 79b StGB) and a "Special Part" (§§ 80 to 358 StGB). The general part contains the provisions on the scope of German criminal law and the criminal policy means of reacting to criminal offenses, namely penalties and measures . In addition, there are expanded and restricted provisions ( perpetrators, participation in the first case and error , grounds for justification , excuse , guilt and exclusion of punishment in the second case) as well as supplementary provisions ( commission by omission , acting on behalf of another, criminal complaint ) - each for the application of the "particular Part". The "Special Part" itself deals with the abstract description of individual misdemeanor and crime regulations with the penalties provided for them. The focus of the individual criminal offenses is the protection of certain legal interests .

The criminal procedure used to enforce the norms is regulated in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Criminal Code was enacted on May 15, 1871 (RGBl. 1871 p. 128-203; Criminal Code for the German Reich ) and has been in force since January 1, 1872. Since then it has undergone many changes, most of which relate to the special part (§§ 80-358 StGB). The general part (§§ 1-79b StGB) was completely revised on January 1, 1975 as a result of the major criminal law reform (with new numbering of the paragraphs).


Before 1945

Penal Code of 1914

The first penal code of its own on German soil was the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (CCC), the “embarrassing neck court order” of Charles V of 1532. Common criminal law was mapped out with this law for centuries. Numerous particular laws were later the result of political turmoil and fragmentation. The Prussian Land Law of 1794 and Feuerbach 's "Bavarian Criminal Code of 1813" can be singled out.

The penal code that applies to the Federal Republic of Germany today was enacted in 1870 as the penal code for the North German Confederation of May 30, 1870 ; Article 80 of the November Constitution continued to apply in the (new) German Reich from January 1, 1871. As early as May 15, 1871, a completely new, textually very similar new version was promulgated, which came into force on January 1, 1872 as the penal code for the German Reich . The penal code for the North German Confederation was based on the Prussian Penal Code of 1851, the preparatory work of which began in 1826. In the second half of the 19th century, scientific influences on the thinking of the population had led to demands for reform, prominently carried out as a dispute between Karl Binding , who represented the classical-preserving school, and Franz von Liszt , who, with his Marburg programmatic publication “Der Zweckgedanke im Strafrecht “ pursued a modern sociological approach to criminal law (keyword: “purposeful penalty” ). The reform efforts in 1902 were taken up by the Reich Justice Office and various preliminary and counter-drafts for a new StGB. The revision of a commission draft from 1913 only succeeded in 1919. Nevertheless, all attempts at reform failed during the Weimar Republic .

During the reign of National Socialism , in the spirit of nullum crimen sine poena (no crime without punishment), interpreted by Carl Schmitt as a "principle of justice", the judge's bond with the law was largely dissolved and an analogy requirement was introduced. This meant that acts that had not been declared a criminal offense by the legislature could also be punished. The part of the amendments to criminal law made by the National Socialists that were obviously contrary to the rule of law was repealed with Control Council Law No. 1 of September 20, 1945 .

Since 1945

The Criminal Code has been amended many times since 1945 . In doing so, the legislature has reacted to changes in legal and criminal policy, to current social values, to gaps in criminal liability and to scientific and technical innovations. Reasons for changes were also developments in West Germany (the Federal Republic until reunification in 1990), legal practice in the GDR (which existed from 1949 to 1990), the Unification Treaty of 1990 and ethical and moral views that existed then or still exist today (e.g. B. § 218 StGB ).

1945 to 1949

The Reich Criminal Code continued to apply after the end of the war . On September 20, 1945, the Allied Control Council 's Control Council Law No. 1 repealed all provisions that were of a political nature or exceptional laws. In addition to special laws and ordinances, this also included the law amending the provisions of criminal law and criminal procedure of April 24, 1934 (RGBl. I/341, repealed by Art. I c of Law No. 1), which directly intervened in the Reich Criminal Code . Since there was generally no return to the legal status of January 29, 1933, z. For example, the threat of punishment in the murder paragraphs , which was aimed at “ types of perpetrators ” , and which had also been introduced during the Nazi era , is still in force.

Federal Republic of Germany 1949 to 1990

The Criminal Code was published on the basis of Article 10 of the Third Criminal Law Amendment Act of August 4, 1953 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 735, 750 ).

The death penalty had already been abolished by Article 102 of the Basic Law . In 1953 she was removed from the murder paragraph ( § 211 ). Section 13 of the RStGB (“The death penalty is to be carried out by decapitation ”) was also abolished.

On June 25, 1969, the Bundestag passed the 1st Criminal Law Reform Act (1st StrRG) . In the general part (AT) a uniform custodial sentence was introduced instead of penitentiary , prison, confinement and imprisonment and honor penalties were abolished. The short prison sentence was reduced and the option of parole was extended. In the Special Part (BT), individual substantive legal norms (e.g. the chapter "Crimes and offenses against morality" or the section "Duel") were abandoned. Some of the norms of the “second part” of the RStGB were redesigned.

The 2nd Criminal Law Reform Act (2nd StrRG) of July 4, 1969 with effect from January 1, 1975 contains, among other things, a new general part that increases the minimum length of imprisonment to one month, the warning with penalty reservation and the daily rate system for the fine and redesigned the penal system. Violations were mainly reorganized into administrative offences . Several reform laws and amendments followed later; The topics discussed included criminal law for demonstrations, sexual offenses and counter- terrorism .

With the reunification , the introductory law to the criminal code was supplemented by Articles 1 a and 1 b, as well as 315 (new version) and 315 a to c (Annex I Chapter III subject area C Section II No 1 (BGBl. II No. 35, 885, 955)). The penal code itself was not changed by the unification treaty.

GDR 1949 to 1990

In the GDR - as in all of Germany - the Reich Criminal Code of 1871 continued to apply without the paragraphs that were repealed by the Allied Control Council . In 1957, new state protection regulations and types of punishment were established with the Criminal Law Supplementary Act; on July 1, 1968, the penal code passed on January 12, 1968 came into force. It was changed several times, finally it was determined by the treaty on the creation of a monetary, economic and social union between the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany of May 18, 1990 that the criminal code of the German Democratic Republic by repealing […] the Sections 90, 99, 105, 106, 108, 213, 219, 249 are amended. As a result, numerous political acts and behaviors could no longer be prosecuted as criminal offences. The remainder of the Criminal Code in its legal version was done with the reunification , whereby the Federal German Criminal Code in some paragraphs (e.g. sections on preventive detention and §§ 175, 182, 218 to 219d, 236) according to Appendix I Chapter III subject area C Section III No. 1 (Federal Law Gazette II No. 35, 885, 957) (initially) were not extended to the accession area (i.e. the former GDR).

After 1990

The change in morals and society is also reflected in the penal code. In the StGB, which now applies to all of Germany, examples of "new" offenses include money laundering (criminal since 1992), youth pornography (criminal since 2008) and sexual harassment (criminal since 2016). Other paragraphs, such as Section 218 , have been modified. In 1994, today's Paragraph 3 of Section 130 of the Criminal Code was introduced, which punishes public denial , approval or trivialization of the Holocaust . In 2005, today's Paragraph 4 was added, which punishes the public approval, glorification and justification of National Socialist tyranny and despotism puts. With the 6th Criminal Law Reform Act, which came into force on April 1, 1998, the penalties for some offenses against property were reduced and increased for offenses involving bodily harm. With effect from January 1, 2018, Section 103 (insulting organs and representatives of foreign states), which was (re)introduced in 1953, was (again) deleted, so that the general provisions on insults now apply in these cases. Almost every year there are several amendments to the Penal Code.

Content and structure

The Criminal Code is divided into two parts:

general part

The general part (§§ 1 to 79b StGB) is divided into five sections:

  1. The criminal law
  2. The fact
  3. legal consequences of the act
  4. Complaint, authorization, demand for punishment
  5. statute of limitations

The first section initially regulates fundamentals such as the scope of the law or definitions. In the second section , the basics of punishability such as forms of commission , intent , negligence , doctrine of error and criminal liability are standardized. In addition, regulations are included which generally apply to all offences, e.g. B. Perpetration and participation and justification reasons ( self- defence , state of emergency ) and those that only apply to certain offenses such as the attempt . The third section on the legal consequences of the act contains, among other things, rules on the type of punishment ( fine or imprisonment ), the assessment of punishment and the suspension of punishment on probation , as well as measures such as preventive detention and confiscation . The regulations on criminal complaints in the fourth section only relate to the complaints offences . The fifth section deals with the statute of limitations for prosecution and enforcement .

special part

The special part of the Criminal Code contains the individual criminal offenses , arranged in 30 sections according to protected legal interests (so -called legal interests ), for example offenses against sexual self-determination , offenses against personal freedom or offenses in office .

The Criminal Code does not cover all criminal offenses. Some offenses are also contained in other laws as so-called ancillary criminal law, e.g. B. for tax offenses in the Fiscal Code , drug offenses in the Narcotics Act and in the Medicines Act or weapons offenses in the Weapons Act and War Weapons Control Act .

See also



The Munich Commentary on the Criminal Code.


General part:

Special part:

web links

Commons : Penal Code (Germany)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. a b Fischer, StGB, 58th edition 2011, introduction, para. 3
  2. For the overall problem, see Hartmuth Horstkotte : From the Reich Office of Justice to the Federal Ministry of Justice. Festschrift for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Reich Justice Office on January 1, 1877. Cologne 1977. P. 327 ff.
  3. a b Gerhard Wolf: Liberation of criminal law from National Socialist thinking? In: Humboldt Forum Recht 9/1996, pp. 1-12.
  4. a b Fischer, StGB, 58th edition 2011, introduction para. 4
  5. Text of Control Council Law No. 1 , retrieved 8 January 2019.
  6. On everything: Dreher / Tröndle : Criminal Code. Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-60892-6 , introduction p. 2.
  7. The Development of the German Criminal Code , accessed January 8, 2019.
  8. Everything about § 130 III StGB on , retrieved on January 8, 2019.
  9. ↑ Insult to Majesty is history in Germany on , retrieved on January 8, 2019.