General Criminal Law includes the classic offences associated with Criminal Law, such as (negligent) bodily injury or homicide, theft, robbery, extortion, coercion, narcotics offences, as well as petty offences of defamation (e.g. insult), damage to property (graffiti), etc. We advise you competently and always in a solution-oriented manner in these areas.
The most intrusive form of judicial cooperation in criminal matters is extradition. This means the transfer of a prosecuted or convicted person to a foreign state at the request of that state. Within the European Union, the system of extradition has been replaced by a simplified system of surrender by means of the European Arrest Warrant. With the United Kingdom, extradition has been carried out since Brexit in accordance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) by way of a newly created EU-UK arrest warrant (for details, please see the special issue of the New Journal of European Criminal Law, co-edited by Anna Oehmichen jointly with Wolfgang Schomburg in Spring 2021, online available at here).
We advise and represent both sides, i.e. prosecuted persons arrested in Germany on the basis of a foreign request as well as prosecuted persons arrested abroad on the basis of a German extradition request or European Arrest Warrant, and work closely with colleagues in the respective other (requesting or requested) state in these cases.
However, judicial cooperation in criminal matters is more than just extraditing a suspect or convicted person to a foreign country. Other forms of intergovernmental cooperation in criminal matters fall under the legal field of Mutual Legal Assistance or MLA and require in-depth knowledge and experience.
In addition to extradition and surrender by means of the European Arrest Warrant, this includes, for example:
Witness hearings abroad, also by video/audio transmission;
requests for investigations and the gathering of evidence (e.g. cross-border telecommunications surveillance or questioning of suspects abroad), within the EU by means of the European Investigation Order (EIO);
provisional seizures and confiscations (i.e. the “freezing” of bank accounts); as well as
Requests for transfer of sentences, e.g. if a convicted person prefers to serve his sentence in his home country.
The interplay of bilateral, international and supranational (EU) legal instruments (framework decisions, directives, regulations) as well as national provisions makes this exotic matter a challenge for many legal practitioners, especially since the case law of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights must also be taken into account. We are one of the few law firms in Germany with many years of experience and expertise in this very specialised area of law.
Foreign trade law regulates economic transactions with foreign countries. It pursues economic, foreign and security policy goals and thus serves to enforce overriding national interests against the interests of traders. These economic and fiscal interests of the state, the EU or the UN, cultural, political, and military interests, especially the interest in the controllability and limitation of dangerous weapons (control of ABC weapons), override and restrict private law. International export control regimes are the Australia Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR), the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Zangger Committee. Legal norms in this regard can be found in European Union law on the basis of the European Union’s exclusive competence to control foreign trade (cf. Art. 207 TFEU), e.g. in the Defence Equipment Directive, the so-called Dual-Use Regulation, the so-called Anti-Torture Regulation and the Kimberley Regulation. Further regulations can be found in the German Act on the Implementation of the Common Market Organisation (MOG) for the import and export of market regulation goods, in the German War Weapons Control Act (KWKG), in the German Implementing Act to the Chemical Convention (CWÜAG) as well as in the German Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) and the German Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV). The Foreign Trade Criminal Law is a sub-area of foreign trade law that provides for sanctions for certain violations (e.g. export, import, transit, transfer, sale, acquisition, delivery, provision, transfer and disposal prohibitions) in foreign trade law. The law provides for such sanctions, for example, in the case of violations of arms embargoes (Section 17 AWG) as well as violations of other export or import bans. Significant criminal provisions are regulated for intentional offences in accordance with Sections 17 and 18 AWG, and regulatory offences for (predominantly negligent) violations in Section 19 AWG.
European directives and regulations not only determine economic transactions, they are also transposed into German penal norms and administrative fines. In foreign trade law, in sanctions law and in environmental Criminal Law, for example, there are increasingly reference norms in German Criminal Law that attach high fines and penalties to the violation of EU regulations. The chains of reference are sometimes so complicated that their compatibility with the constitutional requirement of certainty is questionable (cf. for example the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the German “Beef Labelling Act”: decision of 21.9.2016, ref. 2 BvL 1/15).
Specialised knowledge of European law is indispensable in these areas. In addition, EU Criminal Law also plays an increasing role in extradition law and mutual legal assistance. In addition, separate prosecution and investigation bodies have been set up for certain European-specific offences, such as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) or the anti-fraud office OLAF in Brussels. In recent years, however, directives have also been adopted to strengthen the rights of the defence. With the adoption of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, its recognition by the Federal Constitutional Court in extradition decisions (cf. most recently, for example, BVerfG, decision of 18 August 2021 – 2 BvR 908/21), and the recognition of the European Convention on Human Rights in Article 6(3) of the EU Treaty, fundamental rights at EU level and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have gained further importance, including in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.
In our team you will find competent advisors who are familiar with the specifics of EU law and the case law in Luxembourg and Strasbourg. We will help you to comply with the complex requirements of Europeanised Criminal Law and to exercise your right to an effective defence, also across borders, taking into account the particularities of European law.
With the increasing globalisation, more and more cases have a cross-border dimension. Examples of this in practice are transnational VAT carousels, customs violations, violations of foreign trade Criminal Law, cybercrime (internet fraud) or corruption abroad. In addition to German criminal law, foreign law can also play a role. Just as every country has its own social order, it also has its own legal system with country-specific peculiarities in theory and practice, which the practitioner of the law should be aware of and use when doing business in foreign countries. In these cases, in addition to assessing whether German criminal law is applicable to such circumstances at all, comparative law expertise and, if necessary, special knowledge in extradition and mutual legal assistance law as well as good contacts to foreign legal experts are therefore required. Our law firm is specialised and experienced in these matters and, in addition to a large network of international experts, offers you expert and comprehensive advice that takes into account the particularities and peculiarities of the foreign legal systems – in cooperation with foreign colleagues. This is the only way to find the best solution for you.
Following the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Germany introduced the principle of universality and thus made it possible to prosecute in Germany so-called “core crimes”, i.e. the most serious offences such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression, even in cases where there are few or no connecting links to Germany. We have experts who deal with nationalised international criminal law as well as the law before the international criminal courts and who are both academically and practically active in this field.
Economic criminal law as a generic term comprises a collection of administrative offences and criminal provisions that are typically close to or related to economic business activities. The classic offences include fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion, bribery and corruption. In the case of companies, breaches of supervisory duties under the Act on Regulatory Offences (OWiG) are added. Many of the offences are very specific and regulated in specialised legislative acts, in part only in conjunction with European directives or regulations.