Criminal Code (Switzerland)

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Basic data
Title: Swiss Criminal Code
Abbreviation: StGB
Type: Federal law
Scope: Switzerland
Legal matter: Criminal law
legal collection (SR)
Original version from: December 21, 1937
Entry into force on: January 1, 1942 ( AS 54 1328)
Last change by: AS 2018 3803 (PDF; 532 kB)
Effective date of the
last change:
1st January 2019
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Swiss Criminal Code , StGB for short (pronounced mostly as [ ˈʃteˑɡeˑbeː ]) ( French Code pénal suisse , Italian Codice penale svizzero , Romansh Cudesch penal svizzer ), if necessary also sStGB , chStGB or StGB-CH , is based on the version of 21. December 1937 back. It came into force on January 1, 1942. Before that, criminal law was a cantonal matter.


Expert commission for the preparation of the preliminary draft for the StGB (around 1908)

The Swiss Criminal Code goes back to a first draft by Carl Stooss from 1893, who was one of the first to propose a dualism of punishments and protective measures . The bill was approved by the people in a referendum on July 3, 1938, with 358,438 votes to 312,030 . When it came into force on January 1, 1942, all cantonal provisions that contradicted the new Criminal Code were abolished - in particular the civil death penalty , which still existed in some cantons at the time. In addition, the competences for substantive criminal law were largely transferred from the cantons to the federal government. The cantons only retained the authority to regulate violations of cantonal procedural law and cantonal tax laws, as well as subsidiary competence in the area of violations .

Relationship to Military Criminal Law

In addition to the criminal code exists for the military , the area Military Criminal Code of 13 June 1928 (MStG; SR 321.0). This only applies to persons who are subject to military criminal law (Art. 218 Para. 1, Art. 3 ff. MStG). If a person subject to military criminal law commits an act that is punishable under both the Criminal Code and the Military Criminal Code, the Military Criminal Law is exclusively applicable (Art. 9 Paragraph 1 StGB).


The Swiss Criminal Code is divided into three large parts, so-called "books".

General provisions (Art. 1–110 StGB)

First book: The first book defines the general provisions that apply to the following books («General Part»). The first book contains regulations on:

  • scope
  • Prerequisites for criminal liability ( crime and misdemeanor, intent and negligence, lawful acts and guilt, attempt, participation, criminal liability of the media, representation relationships)
  • Criminal complaint
  • Penalties and measures (fine, community service, imprisonment, conditional and partially conditional penalties, sentencing, exemption from punishment and termination of proceedings, therapeutic measures and custody, other measures)
  • Execution of sentences, interruption of execution due to incapacity for prison , conditional release
  • Probation assistance, instructions and voluntary social care
  • Statute of limitations
  • Corporate responsibility
  • Rules on Violations
  • Definitions of terms

Special provisions (Art. 111–332 StGB)

Second book: Here it is specified which actions are punishable. The second book is divided into 20 so-called titles, which summarize the individual criminal offenses («special part»):

  • Offenses against life and limb
  • Offenses against property
  • Offenses against honor and the secret or private sphere
  • Crimes and offenses against freedom
  • Offenses against sexual integrity
  • Crimes and offenses against the family
  • Public crimes and misdemeanors
  • Crimes and offenses against public health
  • Crimes and offenses against public transport
  • Counterfeiting of money, official stamps, official marks, measurements and weights
  • Forgery of documents
  • Crimes and offenses against public peace
  • Crimes against the interests of the international community
  • Crimes and offenses against the state and national defense
  • Offenses against the will of the people
  • Offenses against public authority
  • Disturbance of relations with foreign countries
  • Crimes and offenses against the administration of justice
  • Offenses against official and professional duties
  • bribery
  • Violations of federal regulations

Introduction and application of the law (Art. 333–392 StGB)

Third book: The third book mainly regulates the responsibilities of the courts and defines certain procedural provisions.


The Criminal Code has undergone many revisions since it came into force. As of January 1, 2007, the entire general part (first book) was revised. The main changes of this revision are the following:

  • The purely formal distinction between prison -, prison and sentence was by a uniform imprisonment replaced;
  • Introduction of the daily rate system in which the fines are set proportionally according to the income of the convicted person;
  • In fact, all sentences of less than six months have been abolished in favor of the fine;
  • Introduction of community service as a new type of penalty.

As of January 1, 2018, the penal code was again adapted in the area of ​​sanctions. Major changes:

  • Relaxation of the requirements for a short term of imprisonment for less than six months. In this area, the fine still has priority. A short term of imprisonment can now also be pronounced if it appears necessary to deter the perpetrator from further criminal offenses.
  • The implementation form of electronic monitoring was enshrined in law.

See also


Zurich Outlines of Criminal Law:

  • Andreas Donatsch, Brigitte Tag: Criminal Law I, Criminal Doctrine - 9th edition; Zurich / Basel / Geneva 2013
  • Daniel Jositsch, Gian Ege, Christian Schwarzenegger: Criminal Law II, Penalties and Measures - 9th edition; Zurich / Basel / Geneva 2018
  • Andreas Donatsch: Criminal Law III, offenses against the individual - 11th edition; Zurich / Basel / Geneva 2018
  • Andreas Donatsch, Marc Thommen, Wolfgang Wohlers : Criminal Law IV, offenses against the general public - 5th edition; Zurich / Basel / Geneva 2017

Günter Stratenwerth :

  • Swiss Criminal Law, General Part I, The Criminal Act - 4th Edition, Bern 2011, ISBN 978-3-7272-8667-4
  • Swiss Criminal Law, General Part II: Penalties and Measures - 2nd edition, Bern 2006, ISBN 978-3-7272-0799-0
  • Günter Stratenwerth, Guido Jenny, Felix Bommer: Swiss criminal law, special part I: Offenses against individual interests - 7th edition, Bern 2010, ISBN 978-3-7272-8658-2
  • Günter Stratenwerth, Felix Bommer: Swiss Criminal Law, Special Part II: Offenses Against Common Interest - 7th Edition, Bern 2013, ISBN 978-3-7272-8684-1

Basel Commentary on Criminal Law:

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ The new law on sanctions applies from January 1, 2018 . Federal Council press release, March 29, 2016