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What are the differences between a ticket, an offence and a crime?

Verified 08 December 2021 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

The tickets, offence and crimes are 3 types offences punished by a criminal sanction (fine or prison). The main difference lies in the seriousness of the act and the punishment. The offence is the least serious of the 3 offences, the offence is the intermediate offence and the crime is the most serious offence. Another difference concerns the courts competent to judge the perpetrators and the limitation .

The contravention is the least serious of the offences. It is classified in 5 categories, of the least serious (violation of 1mother class), the most serious (violation of 5th class). Examples of violations: threat of degradation, slight degradation of property, light.

The offence is an offence of medium gravity, between the contravention and the crime. Examples of offence: flightabuse of social property, discrimination, moral harassment, sexual touchingmanslaughter.

The crime is the most serious offence. Examples of crime: murder rape.

Depending on their seriousness, the offences may be punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. Additional penalties may be imposed in addition to the main penalty of fine or imprisonment. For example, a care obligation.

Fine

Fine for the offence

Offence

Amount of fine

Contravention

1mother class

€38 maximum

2th class

€150 maximum

3th class

€450 maximum

4th class

€750 maximum

5th class

€1,500 or €3,000 in the event of maximum recidivism

Delivered

€3,750 at least

Crime

€3,750 at least

Warning  

some of the first 4 class tickets are punishable by standard fine. The amounts are then lower.

Prison sentence

Imprisonment for the offence

Offence

Prison sentence

Contravention

None

Delivered

2 months to 10 years

Crime

15 years to life imprisonment

Complementary penalties

Additional penalties applicable to the offence

Offence

Possible penalties

Contravention

- Deprivation or restriction of law (suspension or withdrawal of licence, forfeiture of property, prohibition of issuing checks, etc.)

- Penalties for compensation (for example, rehabilitation of damaged objects)

- Awareness courses: the fight against the purchase of sexual acts, the dangers of drug use, road safety, ...

Delivered

- Citizenship Stage

- Work of general interest

- Various constraints (prohibitions, confiscations, injunctions of care...)

- Contraventions (or alternatives)

Crime

Various constraints (prohibitions, confiscations, injunctions of care, etc.)

FYI  

sometimes community service can be offered in lieu of a prison sentence and not as a complementary sentence.

A different jurisdiction judges the perpetrators of each of the 3 types of offence.

Jurisdictions relevant to the offence

Offence

Jurisdiction

Contraventions

Police Court

Delivered

Correctional Tribunal

Crime

Court of Assisi

Please note

if the same case involves several offences (theft and murder, for example), the court seized of the most serious offence judges all offences. For example, the Court of Appeal judges offences (theft) associated with a crime (murder).

The limitation period is the period during which an offence may be prosecuted. It is usually calculated from the date of the facts concerned. A different limitation period applies for each type of offence.

Limitation periods depending on the offence

Offence

Regular time

Contravention

1 Year

Delivered

6 years

Crime

20 years

Warning  

the statute of limitations is 30 years for certain crimes considered particularly serious (e.g. terrorism, sex crimes against minors, trafficking in human beings).