Penal Code of Romania

The Penal Code of Romania (Codul penal al României) is a document providing the legal basis regarding criminal law in Romania. The Code contains 446 articles. The articles mention aspects such as the national boundaries of law and the crimes that fall under the incidence of penal law.[1] Judicial discretion is granted by the Code through the use of minimum and maximum sentences. The most recent version of the Romanian Penal Code has come into effect on 1 February 2014.


The Penal Code of 1865

The Romanian Penal Code has been first issued in 1865, under the leadership of A.I. Cuza. The Code (also known as the Cuza Code) standardized the laws of the Principality of Wallachia and Principality of Moldova, which since 1859 were united under a single Principality. The Code has been developed using several notions from the Penal Code of France and the Penal Code of Prussia. The Cuza Code included the principle of legal equality. Instead of the capital punishment, the most extreme punishment that could be legally enforced was penal labor. Cruel and unusual punishments were prohibited.

Based on the Code, crimes were classified under three headings: delicts, misdemeanors and contraventions. The concept of attempted crimes was not mentioned throughout the code; attempting to commit a crime was punished just as harshly as if the crime happened. The accomplice was to receive the same punishment as the author of the crime.[2]

The Code did not criminalize prostitution.[3] Cannabis consumption was not a punishable offense.[4]

The Penal Code of 1865 marked the beginning of unitary penal law in Romania.

The Penal Code of 1936

The Penal Code of 1936[5] (also known as The Penal Code of Carol II) was introduced in order to standardize the many changes in the legal system that have arisen as a result of the Union of 1918. The new Code was heavily updated; the presumption of innocence was expressly mentioned. The sentence was defined as being given in order to punish the crime, not the person committing it. The concept of individual punishments (as opposed to collective punishment) has been introduced in the Code.

The Penal Code of 1936 remained unchanged in terms of complicity to crime.[6]

The Penal Code of 1969

The Penal Code of 1969 has been developed in accordance to Marxist ideals. The capital punishment has been re-introduced. Parasitism has been introduced as a legal offense. Homosexual acts were classified as a criminal offense.

Nonetheless, the Code retained the presumption of innocence. The Code was now expressly mentioning the concept of complicity to crime. It also included specific definitions of infraction, attempt, perjury, rape, bribe, prostitution, war propaganda and theft.

Post-1989 amendments

The Penal Code after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 has been updated 29 times as of December 2008. Capital punishment was replaced with life imprisonment, as the post-Communist Constitution of Romania outlaws the death penalty. Sections criminalizing parasitism, adultery and homosexual relationships (which were banned under Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1968) were also removed.[7][8]

The Penal Code of 2014

A new Penal Code (Law no. 286/2009) came into force on 1 February 2014, together with a new Penal Procedure Code.[9] According to official explanatory notes released prior to its implementation, the new legislation aimed to simplify and accelerate criminal proceedings, eliminate overlaps between Penal Code provisions and those contained in special laws, transpose European regulations into national law and ensure the observance of human rights provisions contained by the Constitution and various international treaties signed by Romania. In this context, the code redefined the concept of criminal offences, adjusted prison sentences, amended the mechanisms by which criminal fines are calculated, eliminated prison sentences for juvenile offenders and introduced new offences against persons, property, justice and professional conduct.[10] Prostitution was decriminalized.[11]


The code is divided into a General Part and a Special Part. The former contains general provisions on offences, penalties, criminal liability, the status of minors, security measures, and prescription, while the latter regulates individual offences, which are grouped into twelve titles, plus an additional title comprising final provisions. Compared to the Code of 1969, the new code is longer, comprising 446 articles versus its predecessor's 363.

See also


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