Criminal Law Web

Analytic Structure: German Criminal Code [StGB]

A. Liability

	I. Definition: Criminality ("Offense") 
Does the behavior constitute criminal conduct? (was a (penal) law violated?) [§1]

A.  in general: Does the penal code apply (jurisdiction)? [§§3-7]
B.  in particular: Does the behavior meet the definition of a particular criminal offense defined in the penal code?

1. What are the elements of the offense as defined?

a) Objective Offense Elements (Actus Reus)
        (i) Conduct
        (ii) Circumstances
        (iii) Result

(b) Subjective Offense Elements (Mens Rea) [§15]
- Vorsatz/dolus (intention); Fahrlässigkeit/culpa (negligence) (see comparative chart)

2. Does the behavior satisfy each element of the offense?

(a) Conduct

- act

- voluntariness

- omission [§13]

- imputation/derivative liability [§§25-31]

- instruments [§25]

- complicity [§§26-31]
- corporate actors [n/a]

(b) Circumstances

- e.g., consent

(c) Result

- causation

(d) Mode of Culpability (w/ respect to each element)

(i) mistake "of fact" [§16]
(ii) intoxication [§§20, 323a]
(iii) diminished capacity [§21]

(e) Inchoate Crimes

(i) attempt [§22]

(ii) counselling
(iii) conspiracy

	II. Justification: Illegality/Unlawfulness/Wrongness ("Defense") 

       Is the criminal conduct unlawful generally speaking? (was the law violated?)

A. in general (nature of justification; justification vs. excuse)

B. specific defenses

1. law administration and enforcement [StPO §127]

2. authority [BGB §1631]

3. defense (self; another; property) [§§32-33]

4. consent 

5. necessity (circumstancial duress) [§34]

C. reasonable mistake re: satisfaction of justification element (self defence)

	III. Excuse: Inculpation/Responsibility/Accountability/Blameworthiness ("Defense")

	Can the accused be held culpable for the facially criminal conduct? 

A. Did the accused lack the capacity for conduct (incapacity)?

1. insanity [§20]

- (exculpatory) intoxication (not available; but see I. (intoxication))

2. infancy [§19]

B. Was the accused incapable of exercising his capacity for culpable conduct? (inability/impossibility/unavoidability)

1. duress [§35]

(a) personal
(b) circumstantial (see necessity)

2. provocation (homicide only)
3. superior orders
4. entrapment

5. abandonment

- complicity

- inchoate crimes [§§24, 31]

6. mistake (ignorance) "of law" [§17]

(a) reliance on official misstatement

(b) unreasonable mistake re: satisfaction of justification element

B. Sanction


I. Principles of Sentencing [§46]

II. Measures of Rehabilitation and Incapacitation [§§61ff.]