Concept and general conditions of criminal liability.

Grounds for criminal prosecution

The grounds for criminal prosecution are reflected in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The reason can only be the commission of an act that has elements of a crime under a specific criminal article. When talking about the basis for bringing a person to criminal liability, it is necessary to define the crime. It is understood as a socially dangerous act prohibited by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation under threat of punishment. If an action is not dangerous to society, it is not considered a crime.

We list the conditions for bringing to criminal liability:

  • the age of criminal responsibility;
  • sanity and capacity;
  • presence of signs of a crime.

The composition of an illegal act is understood as its subject, object, objective and subjective sides. Let's look at them using the example of murder. Criminal liability is possible if the offender violated a person’s right to life (this is the object), reached 14 years of age (then he is considered the subject of the crime), deprived a person of life in an unlawful way (objective side), guided by direct intent (subjective side). If an act meets all the criteria, it is classified as a certain type and, depending on this, a punishment is assigned. It depends on aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the number of victims, and the method of murder.

Special Moments

A minor may be 16 years old, but assessed at a different age. This occurs if a medical report has established a retarded development of a person’s psyche or the presence of disorders that provoked an incorrect assessment of the offenses committed by the criminal. That is, the person simply did not understand what he was doing, did not realize that this was an illegal act, dangerous for others. If the medical examination determines such a situation, the TOS is not applicable.

In general, reaching the legal age is one of the key conditions for applying the EO. In the system of laws of our country, age and the ability to understand what a person is doing are inseparable phenomena. This means that the minor is insane. Holding him accountable for offenses the danger of which remained unrecognized is pointless and does not correspond to the goals pursued by punitive measures.

Age of criminal responsibility

Bringing minors to criminal liability (they are considered persons under 14 years of age) is impossible. In general, sanctions are imposed from the age of 16. However, for serious crimes, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is reduced to 14 years. These include:

  • murder;
  • causing grievous harm and moderate harm with intent;
  • kidnapping;
  • rape;
  • sexual assault;
  • theft, robbery and robbery;
  • extortion;
  • terrorist attack;
  • hostage taking;
  • participation in mass riots.

In addition, from the age of 14, they are punished for aggravated hooliganism, vandalism, theft of weapons, production of explosives, etc.


The maximum age for criminal prosecution is not defined in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. But the courts are based on the defendant’s state of health. In case of serious illness, they may be released from punishment.

Procedure for criminal prosecution

The procedure for criminal prosecution involves several stages. First, a criminal case is initiated against the suspect. The investigator or body of inquiry establishes the guilt of the person and the admissibility of imposing a sanction. They make a decision on the person’s new status - the suspect becomes the accused. When the investigation is completed, all case materials are sent to the court. After this, the trial begins. Bringing a debtor or other person to criminal liability is possible only by decision of a judge.

The procedure for bringing judges to criminal liability

The procedure for holding a judge criminally liable differs from the generally accepted one due to the special status of this person. For example, certain investigative and procedural actions can be carried out against him only with the prior consent of the judicial authority. Only higher authorities can carry out these actions. Only the Prosecutor General or the person performing his duties has the right to initiate a case against a judge, if the panel of judges has agreed to this. Detention of a judge is also permitted only with the approval of the Prosecutor General.


It is prohibited to detain judges for administrative offenses.

We should not forget about the immunity of a judge. This concept also includes a prohibition on holding an official accountable for his decision in a case.

The procedure for bringing a deputy to criminal liability

A deputy is also considered a person with a special status. In order to subject him to sanctions, it is necessary to deprive the parliamentarian of immunity; this is possible only on the proposal of the prosecutor. Only after the deprivation of immunity is detention, arrest, search or interrogation allowed, except in cases of detention at the scene of a crime.

The procedure for bringing a lawyer to criminal liability

Lawyers are also included in the list of persons for whom a special procedure for criminal prosecution is provided. It was established to protect these individuals from unjustified persecution. The decision to initiate a case can only be made by the head of the investigative body.

DU in relation to foreign citizens

Quite often, crimes on the territory of the country are committed by citizens who have arrived from another state for some time (the purposes of the visit vary significantly). In recent years, projects have been actively promoted that would allow foreigners who commit crimes to be punished on Russian territory. Currently, legal standards do not provide for more or less serious punishment, which is why the likelihood of a criminal act on the part of a visiting person increases.

The Criminal Code states that a foreigner cannot be put behind bars, just as someone who does not have citizenship or permanent residence cannot be punished in this way. That is, someone who came to Russia and committed an illegal act is sent to his home country. Sometimes this is deportation, sometimes the criminal is handed over to authorized representatives of the state. This person can be brought to justice in his homeland, if, of course, they consider it necessary. Punishment will be imposed according to the laws of that country. Of course, with frivolous measures, this person, once again in Russia, can do something similar again. The situation gives rise to special problems in light of the fact that there is a contingent arriving in the Russian Federation specifically to commit crimes. Such acts are not only isolated; criminals participate in organized groups. Consequently, distrust is born in the entire population of another country as a whole. There is also a certain negativity in the perception of illegal migration.

Illegal prosecution

Law enforcement officers and other officials bear responsibility for illegal prosecution. It is spelled out in Art. 299. Illegal prosecution under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is punishable by up to 7 years in prison. If a person is wrongly accused of a serious or especially serious crime with serious consequences, the upper limit of the sentence increases to 10 years. If the attacker had selfish goals in illegally prosecuting an innocent person, he can also receive up to 10 years in prison.

Application for criminal prosecution (sample)

An application for criminal prosecution must contain:

  • name of the body and full name of the head in whose name the application is written;
  • applicant's details and contacts;
  • Full name of the offender;
  • circumstances of the case;
  • links to articles of laws;
  • an indication that the applicant has been warned of liability for false denunciation;
  • date and signature.

A sample application for criminal prosecution can be obtained from the police department, court and prosecutor's office.

Statute of limitations: when does it start?

According to current laws, the statute of limitations begins to count from the moment when the unlawful act occurred (if we are talking about bringing the criminal to justice). If the process involves the issuance of an indictment that must be executed, then the period begins to run at the moment the verdict comes into force.

A situation is possible where a person planned to commit an illegal act, but this activity was interrupted at an early stage for various reasons. For example, a certain person wanted to kill another, began to prepare for this and was discovered doing so. Here, the statute of limitations begins with the last event committed as part of the preparations.

In some cases, an unlawful act involves several actions that form a closed cycle, the purpose of which is to continue criminal activity. The statute of limitations begins to count from the moment the last action occurred. If the act is extended over time, then the statute of limitations is counted from the moment when the activity was stopped and it was interrupted.

What are the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution?

The statute of limitations is the period during which criminal prosecution for a crime is possible. It depends on the severity of the illegal act:

  • 2 years for minor crimes;
  • 6 years - for acts of moderate gravity;
  • 10 years for serious offenses;
  • 15 years - for especially serious cases.

Limitation periods are determined based on the category of crime. If the maximum sanction does not exceed 3 years of imprisonment, the act is considered to be of minor gravity. If the offender can receive a maximum of 5 years in prison, the act falls into the category of medium gravity. This also includes crimes committed through negligence, the maximum penalty for which exceeds 3 years in prison. Serious crimes are those that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Particularly serious offenses include those with a maximum sanction of more than 10 years.

Viewpoints vary

In general, there are a lot of opinions regarding statutes of limitations; the positions of legal scholars diverge significantly. As a rule, after a long period of time, the crime ceases to be relevant to society, which means that the criminal justice system becomes ineffective, since it will not prevent either the repetition of the act by the same person or its repetition by others. And from the point of view of fair restoration of the rights of someone whose interests and rights were infringed by the crime, the belated criminal procedure looks like a rather pointless event.

Certain calculations are related to the nature of the criminal process. When a lot of time has passed since the commission of the offense, it becomes difficult to obtain true, truthful, accurate data about what happened. This makes it difficult to prove the guilt of the accused and casts doubt on whether witnesses are giving accurate testimony.


Criminal prosecution is possible only by court decision and when a person’s guilt is proven. The process involves several stages: initiation of a case, investigation, trial and sentencing. However, for some categories of persons the procedure for bringing to criminal liability looks different. For example, in relation to judges, due to their special status, certain investigative actions cannot be carried out without special permission. And deputies have the right to be detained and interrogated only after their immunity has been deprived.

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