Customs criminal law and monetary fines proceedings

In connection with customs law customs criminal law is playing an important role. Customs criminal law and the law on customs offences can have considerable consequences for managers and employees in foreign trade. Not only considerable monetary fines can be imposed, but also imprisonment. Criminal proceedings and monetary fines proceedings of the customs authorities, therefore, should be taken seriously. A careful examination of the reproach is necessary to ensure that an appropriate defence can be made.

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O&W is offering comprehensive legal advice for criminal proceedings and administrative offences in connection with customs procedures. We act on behalf of our clients towards customs investigation authorities, the offices imposing administrative and criminal fines of the principal customs offices, with the public prosecutor and the courts and can also advise you before criminal proceedings are started.

Infringements of customs regulations

Offences against customs regulations often have serious consequences. Mostly it is worth to handle proactively in this regard.

As the EU has no compentences for criminal law, there is no international European criminal law on customs matters. National law applies in this connection, in general in the sense of the Abgabenordnung (AO), the German Fiscal Code. In addition, customs criminal law has a lot of special rules, which were brought about due to the process of Europeanization.

Customs offences are e.g. fiscal evation by failure to take due care (§ 378 AO), minor tax fraud (§ 379 AO), the risk of loss of excise duties (§ 381 AO) and the risk of loss of import and export duties (§ 382 AO).

Criminal offences in connection with customs duties are for instance:

  • Infringements of the tariff law (§ 372 AO),
  • Commercial smuggling, smuggling with violence and gang smuggling (§ 373 AO),
  • Customs fraud/evasion (§§ 3 (3), 370 AO),
  • Concealing or selling property obtained by tax evasion (§ 374 AO),
  • Benefit of reduced taxation (§ 369 (1) no. 4 AO) and
  • Forging of revenue stamps (§§ 148, 149 StGB – Penal Code, § 369 (1) no. 3 AO).