skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 78644 Find in a Library
Title: Reform of Austrian Criminal Law Compared to the Criminal Law Reform in the German Federal Republic (From Strafrechtsreform und Rechtsvergleichung, P 39-65, 1979, Hans Luettger, ed. - See NCJ-78642)
Author(s): M Burgstaller
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: Walter de Gruyter & Co
1 Berlin 30, Germany United
Sale Source: Walter de Gruyter & Co
Genthiner Str 13
1 Berlin 30,
Germany (Unified)
Language: German
Country: West Germany (Former)
Annotation: The most recent reforms of Austrian criminal law are outlined with occasional comparisons to the current situation in West German law.
Abstract: The criminal code in Austria that was replaced in 1974 went back to the codes of 1803 and 1854. Reforms of the previous code occurred one at a time over a century and a half. The complete revision of 1974 took 20 years to complete because of difficulties in reaching a consensus about the necessary reforms. The basic precept of the code finally adopted is that its task is only to protect the communal life of individuals in society. Guilt is understood as socially defined personal responsibility. Penalties express social-ethical reproach; the goal of penalties is special and general prevention. In contrast to German law, the Austrian reform is somewhat less likely to consider commission through omission grounds for lenience. It defines self-defense more broadly, contains legal definitions for 'intentional' and 'negligence,' and is more likely to judge errors about what is prohibited and certain emergency situations as extenuating circumstances. Austrian law also regards all offenders involved in joint criminal activities as subject to the same penalties and treats attempted crimes as subject to the same penalties as the completed offense. The most important reforms in practical terms relate to sanctions: the maximum prison term is 20 years, the life sentences are only for genocide, fines are paid according to the day rate system. In Austria as in Germany, sentencing is guided by the degree of criminal responsibility, and short-term imprisonment is to be replaced by fines and probation or partial parole. Special institutionalization is foreseen for mentally ill offenders, as well as for legally sane offenders who suffered from mental abnormalities at the time of their offenses. In both German and Austrian law, addicts and psychopaths are treated before imprisonment and dangerous recidivists after incarceration. In Austria, probation is only possible after treatment for addiction. Time limits have been set for institutional treatment. The success of the new code is difficult to evaluate after such a short time. The number of fines and institutional placements has increased, but a rising trend in property offenses and a falling trend in personal and sexual offenses are probably not connected to the new code. Reformers should now concentrate on revising procedural and correctional laws to assure the effectiveness of the new criminal code in practice. Notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Austria; Crime prevention measures; Criminal codes; Criminal responsibility; Germany; Law reform; Mentally ill offenders; Parole; Probation; Self defense; Sentencing/Sanctions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.