Amendment to the Czech Criminal Code and Czech Act on Administrative Violations in 2019
Amendment to the Czech Criminal Code and Czech Act on Administrative Violations in 2019
The amendment to the Czech Criminal Code (Act No. 287/2018 Coll. amending Act No. 40/2009 Sb., Criminal Code, as amended, and some other laws) will come into effect on 1 February 2019. It primarily concerns the following areas:
1. Money laundering,
2. Violence against women and domestic violence,
4. Obstruction of justice,
6. Expedited storage of data stored in a computer system or an information medium for the purpose of criminal proceedings.
Obstruction of justice in Czech Republic
The Czech Criminal Code will newly comprehensively criminalise any acts that may be characterised as obstruction of justice. Such acts are also sanctioned in Slovakia or Germany and their prohibition is contained in a range of international treaties.
In Czech criminal law, such acts could so far be sanctioned only in case of successful ‘soliciting to obstruction of justice’ as complicity in the form of organisation or abetting to any of the offences under ss. 345 to 347 of the Czech Criminal Code. Criminal liability of an organiser or abettor is derived from the principle of accessoryship of complicity from liability of the main offender, i.e. a witness, for example, must, however, at least attempt false testimony. If the main offender has not reached the attempt stage yet, the action of the accomplice is fully immune from criminal liability. Forgery and fraudulent alteration of the means of evidence or submission of such means of evidence are now factually non-punishable unless they concern an expert opinion or a public instrument.
New wording of section 347a of the Czech Criminal Code, ‘Obstruction of Justice’
According to section 347a of the Czech Criminal Code, obstruction of justice in Czech Republic is committed by everyone who ‘for the purpose of bringing a case before a court, an international judicial authority or for the purpose of criminal proceedings or during such proceedings submits an exhibit or documentary evidence which is of material importance for a decision of which he knows that is falsified or altered with the intention of using it as genuine, or who falsifies or alters such evidence with the intention of using it as genuine’, and by everyone who ‘alone or through another provides, solicits or promises benefit to another or for another for the purpose of committing false accusation (s. 345), false testimony and false expert opinion (s. 346) or false interpreting (s. 347)’. Depending on the gravity of consequences, sentences imposed for this offence can even include imprisonment for a term of three to ten years.
Laundering proceeds of crime in Czech Republic
The amendment repeals complicity and complicity by negligence (s. 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code) because the current facts of these offences were included in the facts of the offences covering wilful or negligent laundering of proceeds of crime. Newly, there will be only one offence covering money laundering. That means that all types of acts subordinate to the money laundering pursuant to the relevant international treaties are expressly mentioned within one fact of an offence.
Laundering proceeds of crime pursuant to section 216 of the Czech Criminal Code is committed by everyone who ‘conceals, transfers to himself or to another, is in possession of or uses any thing that represents proceeds of crime committed within or outside the territory of the Czech Republic by another, or who alters such a thing with the intention to enable another person to escape criminal prosecution, punishment or protective measure or the service thereof, or who conspires to the commission of such an offence’, and by everyone ‘who conceals the origin of any thing which represents proceeds of crime committed within or outside the territory of the Czech Republic, in particular by concealing or disguising its actual nature, location, movement, disposal thereof, ownership or another right to this thing, or by everyone who otherwise endeavours that ascertainment of its origin is materially aggrieved or disabled or who conspires to the commission of such an offence’.
Pursuant to section 217 of the Criminal Code, laundering proceeds of crime by negligence is committed by everyone who ‘enables another by negligence to conceal the origin or ascertainment of origin of any thing of a higher value which represents proceeds of crime committed within or outside the territory of the Czech Republic and by everyone who by negligence conceals, transfers to himself or to another, is in possession of or uses any thing of a higher value which represents proceeds of crime committed within or outside the Czech Republic by another person’.
Severity of the sentences imposed for the above offences will be also intensified and especially aggravating circumstances are added.
Definition of the criminal instrument and proceeds of crime
The term ‘criminal instrument’ and ‘proceeds of crime’ have not been expressly defined in the Criminal Code yet.
Under new section 135a of the Criminal Code, the ‘criminal instrument means a thing that was intended for or used to commit a crime, including civil fruits and proceeds’. And under section 135b of the Criminal Code, ‘proceeds of crime’ mean any economic benefit originating from the commission of an offence while the immediate proceeds of crime mean any thing acquired through the commission of an offence or as a reward for the commission of an offence, including civil fruits and proceeds, and mediated proceeds of crime mean any thing, including civil fruits and proceeds, that a) was, even partly, acquired for a thing constituting immediate proceeds of crime, b ) in which the thing constituting immediate proceeds of crime have been transformed, even partly, or c) whose valorisation occurred, even partly, via a thing constituting immediate proceeds of crime’.
Indirect bribing in Czech Republic
The new wording of section 332 (bribing) and section 333 (indirect bribery) of the Czech Criminal Code should, within one provision, also sanction indirect pledging or providing of an unlawful benefit as well as indirect request or reception of an unlawful benefit. Addition of the following text to the facts: ‘alone, or by means of another, provides, offers or pledges a bribe’ will remove the interpretation problem compared to section 331 of the Criminal Code which already contained this term.
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Amendment to the Czech Act on Administrative Violations and Road Traffic Act
An amendment to Act No. 250/2016 Sb., on Liability for Administrative Violations and Relating Proceedings, as amended, came into effect on 1 January 2019.
An essential change was introduced by the changed provisions regarding the administrative citation sanctioning of drivers under section 125c(7) of Act No. 361/2000 Sb., on Road Traffic, as amended. The text ‘a fine will be imposed (for an administrative violation)’ was changed to ‘a fine may be imposed (for an administrative violation)’ so that the respective administrative violations could be settled by agreement in line with general legislation and the Road Traffic Act if this procedure is adequate to the circumstances of the case. That means that police officers will not have to impose a fine as it has been until now.
According to the Act on Liability for Administrative Violations, the condition that an admonition is not enough to deal with the administrative violation must be met to issue an administrative citation order. The possibility to impose an admonition on the accused with an administrative citation order was omitted. According to the new provisions, only a fine can be imposed through the administrative citation order.
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