Ministry Preparing to Clear Up Penal Legislation ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Retrieving a ball from a neighbor's yard, along with a host of other examples of theoretically criminal offenses, will no longer be punishable under amendments that seek to streamline the Penal Code and other legislation dealing with crime.

Currently 1,300 offenses are deemed punishable by the Penal Code and 148 other laws, the ministry said in a press release today.

A commission tasked with cutting the number of punishable acts, reorganizing the legal side of the penal system and decreasing over-criminalization was convened in 2011, and has now come up with changes to 163 of the 451 paragraphs of the Penal Code, deleting 48 punishable acts, while adding eleven new acts. The draft also aims to amend 107 of the 148 other laws.

“Estonian penal legislation can currently be described as one of over-criminalization. For example, a person caught retrieving a ball from a neighbor's garden can receive a fine or even a one-year sentence by current laws. If a caregiver spends just one euro of a patient's money on him or herself, that person could receive a fine or up-to a three-year sentence,” Minister Hanno Pevkur said, adding that a punishment must be proportional to the crime.

The changes are currently being analyzed by other ministries and should be submitted to the Parliament in the fall.

Crimes vs. misdemeanors

One proposed change is raising the damage level that turns a misdemeanor offense into a criminal one.

Currently any crime against property, where less than 64 euros of damage is caused, is classified as a crime instead of a misdemeanor. The cutoff will be 200 euros if the bill is ratified, Postimees reported today.

The change is tied to the minimum daily rate used to calculate fines, which will be raised from 3.2 euros, which dates from  2001, to 10 euros when the bill is passed.

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