The Ministry of Justice announces that it has sent to the Government a draft amendment to a number of normative acts making changes to the Criminal Code and the Contravention Code. One of the main proposed amendments to the Criminal Code concerns the extension of the applicability of alternatives to imprisonment, which will contribute to the depopulation of prisons, according to the authorities.
“The draft law aims to improve the regulatory framework, remedy some legislative shortcomings that, in practice, generate difficulties in the interpretation and application of criminal law rules, strengthen an effective system of humanization of the state’s punitive policy, adapted to the requirements and social realities,” the Ministry of Justice announced in a press release.
According to the Ministry, although the Moldovan legal framework provides for a fairly large list of alternatives to imprisonment, they are not applicable in most cases of particularly serious crimes or dangerous and extremely dangerous recidivism.
“Specifically, a person is released from criminal liability only when he or she commits a minor or less serious crime for the first time. The aim is therefore to apply alternatives to imprisonment in as many cases as possible, i.e. to replace the unexecuted part of the sentence by a lighter sentence for all categories of offences. However, legal impediments should not diminish the possibility of applying alternative penalties and measures in the case of particularly serious and exceptionally serious offences,” the source states.
The draft law also provides for the adjustment of the regulatory framework in the area of environmental offences.
“In the context that most environmental offences are material offences, when classifying offences it is mandatory to establish the causal link between the harmful act and the harmful consequences, which cannot always be assessed, as the effects usually occur over time. Since the social relations which the criminal law regulates in the case of environmental offences have evolved and the legislation applied is outdated, they need to be revised,” the authorities argue.
The Criminal Code would be supplemented with new components of offences, such as unauthorised exploitation of the soil, illegal use of the subsoil, illegal damming or alteration of water courses, diminishing the area of forest land. At the same time, it is proposed to increase the amount of fines for offences affecting social relations with regard to environmental integrity. Thus, individuals risk a fine between 27 500 lei (1,430 EUR) and 250 000 lei (around 13,000 eur) and legal entities risk a fine between 100 000 and 1 500 000 lei.
Another amendment to the Criminal Code is the extension of the statute of limitations for criminal liability for minor offences from 2 to 3 years.
The Ministry of Justice states that this amendment is necessary because many investigations on many criminal cases are complex and require longer time for examination. Thus, the 2-year statute of limitations “is not sufficient to hold perpetrators who have committed minor offences criminally liable because of the delay in the examination of the case by the parties involved in the proceedings”.
The draft is in the public consultation phase and will be finalised after receiving opinions from the institutions and all stakeholders. Once approved by the Government, the draft law will be submitted to Parliament for consideration and adoption.