The distinctive features of European Criminal Law

Author:Lamya - Diana Al-Kawadri
Position:Young Researcher, Centre for Legal, Economic and Socio-Administrative Studies, 'Nicolae Titulescu' University, Bucharest, Romania
LESIJ NO. XXI, VOL. 1/2014
Lamya - Diana AL-KAWADRI*
This study aims to analyze the case law of the ECJ and ECHR on the nature of administrative sanctions
and their relation to criminal la w. Also, some important criteria used by different Member States in
their own legal systems in differentiating between criminal and administrative sanctions are presented.
As it will be shown in this study, in esta blishing the difference between a dministrative a nd criminal
offence sanctions, the case law of both the Eur opean Court of Human Rights and the Court o f Justice
of the European Union offer a n indirect definition of crimina l offence through its penalty. Thus, a
certain behavior, if sanctioned in a procedure that could be labeled as ‘criminal procedure’, is
necessarily a cr iminal offence.
1. Comparative national law analysis
1.1. Preliminary remarks*
In the old Romanian regulations,
according to art. 1 of Law no. 32/1968, a
contravention (administrative offence) was
an "act committed with guilt, posing a
danger of social crime and lower than is
provided and sanctioned as such by laws,
decrees or regulations of the bodies referred
to in the present law".
The 1864 Criminal Code settled the
contravention as the offence which the law
punishes by imprisonment or by a police fine
" (art. 1).
Present national regulations, GO.
, state that "the contr aventional law
protects social values that are not protected
by the criminal law."
We will see how the contravention is
determined by the national legislator
comparative with different other legislators.
* Young Researcher, Centre for Legal, Economic and Socio-AdministrativeăStudies,ă“NicolaeăTitulescu”ăUniversity,ă
Bucharest, Romania. This paper is part of a research activity which is carried out under the CNCSIS PN II Contract
no.27/2010. The comparative aspects of different European legal systems from this study were presented based on
theoretical and pr actical resear ch studies from Hungary, Italy, Romania and Netherlands.
Official Journal no. 268/22 of April 2002.
1.2. Comparative national law analysis.
Romania. Hungary. Italy. The
Romanian legislator made a difference
between criminal offence and administrative
offence, in the sense that the same co nduct
cannot be punished in the same time also as
criminal offence and contravention. In case
that such situation happens, the only
punishment will be a criminal penalty.
In the same way, to describe
contravention, Hungarian legislation settles
that contraventions are the lightest type of a
criminal offence regarding their weight. In
1955, it ranked a part of the contr aventions
as felonies but classified a bigger part of
them under the new type of unlawful act,

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