Criminal offense (Germany)

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A criminal offense is unlawful behavior ( act or omission ) that is punishable by the legislature . In principle, criminal offenses can only be committed willfully ; a criminal offense can only be committed negligently if this is explicitly stated in the relevant law. In Germany, criminal offenses were divided into crime , misdemeanor and transgression until 1974 . Since 1974 there has only been a dichotomy between crimes and offenses. The former violations have since been classified as either a misdemeanor or an administrative offense .

Crimes and offenses are defined in Germany according to § 12 StGB as follows:

  • Crime : criminal offenses with a minimum of one year imprisonment or more.
  • Offense : All other offenses. That means criminal offenses that are at least threatened with imprisonment for less than one year or with a fine.

Crimes can also be broken down into different offenses . The criminal liability of the offender , which is to be assessed individually, must be separated from the offense .

Criminal law

Ancillary criminal law

All criminal norms that are not contained in the criminal code but in other legal norms are counted as ancillary criminal law.

criminal code

The Criminal Code arranges criminal offenses according to legal interests, see also the list of offenses in the German Criminal Code . It includes official offenses that are a criminal act of arbitrariness by a public official in an authority.

Code of Criminal Procedure

In § 100a StPO and § 100b StPO are serious crimes or particularly serious crimes defined. The classification as (particularly) serious criminal offenses is not based on the sentence. Instead, they are all listed individually.

Telecommunications may only be secretly intercepted in Germany in the case of serious criminal offenses. In addition, the act must weigh heavily in individual cases and "the investigation of the facts or the determination of the whereabouts of the accused in any other way made significantly more difficult or futile" ( Section 100a (1) StPO).

A clandestine online search may only be carried out if it is also a particularly serious crime.


  1. Administrative offenses do not count as a criminal offense.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Schwacke: Law of the administrative offenses . 4th edition. Kohlhammer Verlag , Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-555-01379-4 , pp. 1 ( Google Books ).
  2. Volker Krey: German Criminal Law General Part . 3. Edition. tape 1 . Kohlhammer Verlag , Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-020473-7 , pp. 59 ( Google Books ).