Exemption from criminal liability and punishment in Russia

The penal system of the Russian Federation is not a soulless punitive machine that punishes persons who have committed illegal actions. The current legislation provides for conditions for exemption from criminal liability, dictated by the norms of humanism and humanity. It is important to consider here that such a practice does not at all remove guilt for the crime committed. However, it is necessary to understand that citizens who are exempt from liability are automatically exempt from criminal prosecution.

Concepts and principles

The practice of exemption from criminal liability is applied in cases where illegal actions have been committed and the citizen’s guilt has been proven.
However, the perpetrator is not sentenced. This is due to the fact that the crime committed does not pose a serious threat to society, and the damage caused to the state is minimal. In essence, this is a preventive measure that warns a person from rash actions in the future, protecting him from committing more serious crimes and consequences. The application of this practice pursues the following goals:

  • prevention of serious crimes;
  • compensation for damage caused to victims;
  • reducing the costs of maintaining penitentiary institutions.

In general, those released from criminal liability avoid actual prison time, however, they retain the fact of a criminal record. This is the main limiting factor.

It is important to understand that exemption from criminal liability and punishment are diametrically different concepts. In the first case, the accused is not brought to trial, in the second, he avoids the punitive measures provided for by the article for committing a crime.

Important! These terms have one thing in common: a person who has committed an unlawful act is not subject to criminal prosecution.

Exclusion of Liability Due to Changes in Conditions

Exemption from criminal liability applies to a person who has committed a crime for the first time. The subject is released from punishment if it can be established that, due to a change in the situation, the committed act has ceased to be criminal in nature. These types of crimes include careless as well as intentional actions, the sanctions for which do not exceed five years in prison.

A change in the situation is assessed as a basis for exemption from liability. If the prosecutor, court, investigator or investigative bodies come to the conclusion that a change in the situation has resulted in the loss of the public danger of the action, then this will serve as a reason to terminate the criminal proceedings in the case.

The concept of exemption from criminal liability due to a change in the situation still remains unclear. Based on established practice, such changes can be varied and relate to a wide range of events, actions, as well as phenomena (changes in the economy, socio-political sphere or in interethnic relations).

All of these relationships must have a significant impact on the assessment of the criminal act and the identity of the perpetrator. The situation must confirm that the criminal does not pose a danger to society, and the committed act no longer carries harmful consequences and does not change the standard legislative assessment of this crime.


The current legislation of the Russian Federation provides for the following grounds for releasing citizens from criminal liability:

  1. Reconciliation of the parties when the victim has no claims against the perpetrator of the crime;
  2. Complete and sincere repentance of the accused;
  3. Expiration of statute of limitations;
  4. Full compensation for physical, property and moral damage caused;
  5. A court decision when criminal liability is replaced by educational measures.

This can include the fact of insanity, when the perpetrator does not realize the consequences of the crime committed. In this case, compulsory treatment is usually prescribed.


Exemption from criminal liability is classified into two types:

  • general - apply to all those who have committed illegal actions without subdividing according to characteristic characteristics;
  • special - provided for individuals, taking into account specific circumstances.

The second point includes moments when more lenient punishments are applied than those provided for in the article of the Criminal Code. This may include deferment of serving sentences for drug addicts and citizens with dependent children under 14 years of age. Parole falls into this category.

Types of exemption from liability

To thoroughly understand this issue, let us consider cases when exemption from criminal liability is applied.
To do this, you can refer to chapters 11-12 of the Criminal Code of Russia. Download for viewing and printing: Chapter 11 (Articles 75-78) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from criminal liability”

Chapter 12 (Articles 79-83) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from punishment”

Article 75: due to repentance

It is noted here that a citizen who has committed an unlawful act that entailed causing minimal or moderate harm is exempt from liability under the following conditions:

  • committed for the first time;
  • confession;
  • cooperation with the investigation;
  • compensation for damage.

According to the provisions of this article, a person who has repented and fully realized his guilt ceases to pose a danger to the public.

Article 75 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from criminal liability in connection with active repentance”

Article 76: reconciliation of the parties

The body of the article notes that citizens who have committed unlawful acts for the first time can avoid liability if they have fully made amends and reached a settlement agreement with the injured party.
Article 76 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from criminal liability in connection with reconciliation with the victim”

Article 76.1: crimes in the economic sphere

According to the provisions of this article, those who have committed crimes in the economic sphere of activity are exempt from criminal liability in three cases:

  1. Under articles 198, 199.1/3/4 - if the crime was committed for the first time, the damage caused is compensated in 10% of the volume;
  2. Under articles 170.2/171/171.1/172/176/177/178/180/185/191/192/193/194 - if the illegal actions were committed for the first time, and the accused were compensated for the damages in double amount;
  3. Under articles 193/194/198/199 - if the fact of the crime committed was established before 01/01/2015, when the accused is a declarant, and his information is entered in a special register.

Article 76.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from criminal liability in cases of crimes in the sphere of economic activity”

Article 78: Expired statute of limitations

Exemption from liability due to the expired statute of limitations implies a division according to the degree of severity:

  • minimum - 2 years;
  • average - 6 years;
  • serious - 10 years;
  • especially serious - 15 years.

This period begins to count from the moment the sentence entered into legal force. The action is frozen in cases where the accused evades compensation for damage and investigative measures. The statute of limitations for crimes, implying punishment in the form of lifelong detention in custody or the death penalty, is determined by the court on an individual basis.

Article 78 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Exemption from criminal liability due to the expiration of the statute of limitations”

Crimes related to terrorist activities have no statute of limitations.

Video about exemption from criminal liability

Special grounds

If you follow the above, release from criminal liability occurs in the following cases:

  1. Committing a crime for the first time;
  2. Minimal and moderate severity.

However, current legislation provides for exemption from liability for more serious crimes, for which fairly severe punishment is imposed. These include:

  • kidnapping - if the criminal voluntarily released the kidnapped person;
  • hostage taking - when the release occurs voluntarily or under the compulsion of the authorities, the attacker has no other illegal actions;
  • bribery - provided that the person used was extorted or he reported the fact of commercial bribery to the authorities;
  • terrorist activity - voluntary refusal, warning the authorities about an impending terrorist attack.

Exemption from criminal liability is also expected for persons who participated in illegal armed groups. This is provided for citizens who voluntarily renounce criminal activity and lay down their arms.

Exemption from liability for minors

This provision applies to citizens of the Russian Federation who committed a crime within the age range of 14-18 years. For such offenders, criminal liability may be replaced by educational measures. These include the following methods of influence:

  • issuing warnings;
  • control by representatives of supervisory organizations;
  • compensation for damage caused;
  • restriction of freedom of movement.

You need to understand that these educators can be used all together for a period of from 30 days to 3 years. If the culprit systematically violates the imposed prohibitions or evades their execution, the court can bring him to full criminal liability.

Exclusion of punishment based on an act of amnesty or pardon

Based on an amnesty, the punishment can be lifted either completely or partially. Such a legislative act is applicable to a certain category of persons, and is never designated individually.

Amnesty is understood as an act issued by the highest legislative body, which by its nature does not make changes to criminal legislation and does not question the validity and legality of a court decision, but is simply aimed at mitigating punishment for a certain circle of people.

In the event of an amnesty, criminal liability can be lifted completely or partially. It is also possible to apply another, more lenient punishment as a sanction, or to terminate criminal proceedings in the case.

Pardon differs from amnesty in that it is aimed at changing the punishment specifically for one person. Amnesty is normative in nature, and in its instructions it always concerns a group of subjects or a number of crimes.

It should also be noted that amnesty involves forgiveness of the convicted person as an individual, and not leniency towards the crime committed. Consequently, the law establishes the provision that if a person refuses to admit his guilt, the application of an act of amnesty in relation to him will be unacceptable. In such a situation, the proceedings will continue until a conviction or acquittal.

General Features and Differences

According to the provisions of the current legislation, exemption from liability and punishment are different measures of influence. However, general properties can also be traced here: the measures provided for by the article for the crimes committed are not applied to the perpetrator. However, these types of liberation are also characterized by fundamental differences, which are expressed in the following:

  • from liability - the case of the accused is not examined in court, therefore, there is no criminal record;
  • from punishment - the accused is sentenced, however, no punitive measures are expected for the crime committed.

In both cases, the citizen’s guilt is proven, but related factors are taken into account.

Innovation in the justice system

Russian legislation is constantly changing, adapting to the needs of modern society and generally accepted world standards. If we talk about exemption from criminal liability, we can highlight the following innovations:

  1. The article that exempted people from liability due to changed circumstances has been abolished. Since 2004, the accused can only avoid punishment, but a court sentence will be imposed;
  2. There is an opportunity to avoid liability for crimes in the economic sphere of activity. This provision came into force in 2012;
  3. It provides for the removal of criminal liability for crimes related to currency and tax evasion, provided that they were detected before 01/01/2015.

In any case, remorse and compensation are taken into account, sometimes up to 5 times the amount.

Similar articles

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  2. The rights of the accused and suspect in criminal proceedings: everything you need to know!
  3. Procedure for criminal prosecution
  4. Bringing minors to criminal liability

Release of minors from criminal liability

It is legally stipulated that persons aged 14 to 18 years are considered minors. This age is specified in order to establish a framework when a minor can be held accountable and be released from it. By setting such age restrictions, the legislator proceeds from the subjective and objective prerequisites for the formation of a teenager as a person, his volitional qualities, as well as consciousness.

If a teenager has committed a crime for the first time, in accordance with the law, he will be released from liability and will be subject to educational measures. The criminal acts committed have special distinctive features arising from the psychological and volitional qualities of the teenager, and also in one way or another influence the social danger of their actions.

The criminal actions of minors reveal personal qualities that are characteristic of this age. Thus, when determining the punishment, special importance is given to mitigating and aggravating circumstances. The issue of revocation of punishment is decided by the prosecutor or investigator.

The conditions for exemption from criminal liability imply the replacement of a sanction with an educational measure. The legislator provides for several types of educational influence, which together form a certain system aimed at increasing sanctions against a teenager. This means that for the first criminal act the punishment will be the most lenient, and in case of relapse the sanction will be subject to toughening.

Compulsory educational measures do not relate to criminal punishment and by their nature do not give rise to a criminal record. The most loyal punishment for minors is a warning. Transfer under the supervision of parents or persons who replace them will be considered more strict.

Also, a court decision may limit the leisure time of a minor and establish special requirements for his behavior. More specifically, restrictions may be imposed on the right to leave the house after a certain time of day, a ban on traveling to another area without prior permission from the authorities.

Compliance with the prescribed educational measures is considered a necessary condition for releasing the subject from liability.

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