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Strafgesetzbuch

Strafgesetzbuch

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Encyclopedia
Strafgesetzbuch is the German name for Penal Code and is abbreviated to StGB.

History


In Germany the Strafgesetzbuch goes back to the Penal Code of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 passed in the year 1871 which was largely identical to the Penal Code of the North German Confederation
North German Confederation
The North German Confederation 1866–71, was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood...

.

This Reichsstrafgesetzbuch (Imperial Criminal Law) was changed many times in the following decades in response not only to changing moral concepts and constitutional provision granted by the Grundgesetz, but also to scientific and technical reforms. Examples of such new crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

s are money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

 or computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

.

The Penal Code is a codification of criminal law and the pivotal legal text, while supplementary laws contains provisions affecting criminal law, such as definitions of new types of crime and law enforcement action. The StGB constitutes the legal basis of criminal law in Germany.

In the wake of the Third Reich a number of prohibiting provisions were included in the Strafgesetzbuch:
  • Friedensverrat ("treason to peace"): Preparation of a war of aggression (§ 80) and incitement to a war of aggression (§ 80a)
  • dissemination of means of propaganda of unconstitutional organizations (§ 86)
  • use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations
    Strafgesetzbuch § 86a
    The German Strafgesetzbuch in § 86a outlaws "use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations". This concerns Nazi symbolism in particular and is part of the denazification efforts following the fall of the Third Reich....

     (§86a)
  • incitement to hatred against segments of the population (Volksverhetzung
    Volksverhetzung
    Volksverhetzung is a concept in German criminal law that bans the incitement of hatred against a segment of the population. It often applies in, though it is not limited to, trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany...

    ) (§130)


In 2002 German public prosecutors were empowered to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 internationally under the Völkerstrafgesetzbuch
Völkerstrafgesetzbuch
The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch or VStGB is the German law that regulates the crimes against public international law. It was created to bring the German criminal law into accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It was announced on 26 June 2002 and became law 30 June 2002...

 ("Code of Crimes against international Law").

Structure


The German Penal Code is divided into two main parts:

General Part ("Allgemeiner Teil"): in which general issues are arranged, for example:
  • Area of the law's validity
  • Law-related definitions
  • Capacity to be adjudged guilty
  • Perpetration and incitement or accessoryship
  • Necessary Defence
  • General provisions for punishment
    Punishment
    Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

    s (fines and imprisonment
    Imprisonment
    Imprisonment is a legal term.The book Termes de la Ley contains the following definition:This passage was approved by Atkin and Duke LJJ in Meering v Grahame White Aviation Co....

    )
  • Statutes of limitations
  • Attempts


Special Part ("Besonderer Teil"): in which the different criminal offences and their definitions and punishments are listed, for example:
  • Crimes against the democratic rule of law
  • Crimes against public order
  • Crimes against the person of a sexual nature
  • Crimes against life
  • Crimes against another person's wealth (for example robbery and theft)

Notable sections


These sections differ significantly from the criminal codes in other countries, and/or are relevant for topics discussed in other articles.

§ 86a: Use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations



Outlaws the distribution or public use of symbols of unconstitutional groups, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting.http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/StGB.htm#86a

This section has been the basis for the confiscation of video games like Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D is a video game that is generally regarded by critics and gaming journalists as having both popularized the first-person shooter genre on the PC and created the basic archetype upon which all subsequent games of the same genre would be built. It was created by id Software and...

or Mortyr
Mortyr
Mortyr 2093-1944 is a first person shooter computer game from Interplay and Mirage released 1999. Mortyr's ક logo is used thoroughly in the game.-Plot:...

.

§ 130: Sedition


Section 3 outlaws denying the genocide committed under the rule of National Socialism (1933–1945). Section 4 prohibits glorifying or approving the reign of the Nazis.

§ 130: Incitement to hatred


Section 130 makes it a crime to:
  • incite hatred against segments of the population or call for violent or arbitrary measures against them in a manner capable of disturbing the peace
    Disturbing the Peace
    Disturbing the Peace is the second studio album by Alcatrazz, and is the only one featuring Steve Vai on guitar. One of the singles, God Blessed Video, can be found on the fictional radio station, V-Rock, on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Weeks on Chart: 7, Peak: #133...

  • to insult, maliciously malign, or defame segments of the population in a manner capable of disturbing the peace
  • disseminate, publicly make accessible, produce, obtain, supply, stock, offer, announce, commend, undertakes to import or export, or facilitate such use by another of written materials that assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming segments of the population or a previously indicated group
  • approve of, deny or downplay an act committed under the rule of National Socialism in a manner capable of disturbing the peace

§ 131: Representation of violence


Outlaws the dissemination or public display of media "which describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity".

This section was used as the legal basis for confiscating horror movies and a few video games such as Mortal Kombat, Manhunt
Manhunt (series)
Manhunt is a stealth style video game series primarily developed by Scottish company Rockstar North, as well as several other Rockstar studios, and published by Rockstar Games....

and Condemned
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a psychological horror first-person shooter video game, developed by Monolith Productions and published by Sega. It was launched worldwide in 2005 on the Xbox 360, with a Microsoft Windows version released later in 2006...

.

§ 140: Rewarding and approving crimes


Outlaws rewarding or approving of crimes "publicly, in a meeting or through dissemination of writings […], and in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace". This only applies to crimes where failure to report is an offense (§ 138), among them preparation of a war of aggression (§ 80), murder, robbery, treason, and counterfeiting money.

This section formed the grounds for the lawsuit against Holger Voss
Holger Voss
Holger Voss is a German Internet user who was sued in January 2003 for a sarcastic comment pertaining to the September 11, 2001 attacks in an Internet discussion forum, a case that attracted nationwide attention in Germany....

.

§ 175: Homosexual acts between men



This section, which was in force in some form or other from 1871 to 1994 (attenuated in 1969), criminalized sexual acts between males under circumstances that varied as the law was modified over the years. Until 1969 it also criminalized sexual acts between humans and animals.

§ 202c: Preparation of data espionage or data interception


Highly controversial, it outlaws the preparation of an act of data espionage (§ 202a) or data interception (§ 202b) by making, obtaining, selling, distributing (or otherwise committing or making accessible to others)
1) passwords or security codes to access data, or
2) computer programs whose purpose is to commit such an act.

As the definition of a "program with the purpose of committing data espionage or data interception" is quite vague, there is a lot of debate how this new prohibition is to be handled in court, since software essential to system or network security might be seen to fall under this act as well. Too extensive an interpretation will surely collide with the freedom of exercise of occupation as well as the right to property (Articles 12 and 14 of the Basic Law).

§ 218: Abortion


Regulating abortion. Revised several times. Now, in combination with §218a, permitting abortion the first trimester upon condition of mandatory counseling and a waiting period, and in rare exceptional cases afterwards.

Full law texts


Special topics

List of symbols in violation of § 86a