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Criminal misdemeanors: big changes for "small" problems

On July 1, 2020, the Law on criminal misdemeanors comes into force ("Law").

The novelties will change the  pattern of interaction with the law enforcement re minor crimes. They are most relevant for legal and security departments of businesses facing the need to regularly address various minor matters due to the nature of their activities (production, retail, logistics, construction, etc.).

If applied properly, the changes can significantly speed up the process of bringing to responsibility for commission of such minor crimes.

At the first glance, the developments seem not significant, but one should  note that there is a risk of the law enforcement  to receive  a new tool enabling to keep seized property for an indefinite time without judicial control (in more details below).

Criminal misdemeanors

The Law eliminates the contradiction in place in legislation since 2012 and introduces a new concept of a criminal misdemeanor.

As of today, the crimes of minor gravity (except of some) become criminal misdemeanors. For instance, the lightest forms of such crimes as theft, fraud, misleading the court or other authorized body, etc fall within criminal misdemeanors.

Sanctions of some minor crimes due to their importance to public interest were increased to prevent them from falling under the category of misdemeanor. For example, the maximum fine for the lightest form of tax evasion was increased.  

New powers of the law enforcement

Along with concept of criminal misdemeanors, the Law introduces a new procedural person – investigative officer (having powers of an investigator).

Generally, inquiry (a simplified procedure for investigation of misdemeanors) can be distinguished from  the pre-trial investigation of crimes as follows:

  • an investigative officer has a right to take a number of actions before entering data on criminal misdemeanor to the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations (document explanations, initiate medical examination, obtain expert`s conclusion and record data from photo and video shooting, seize tools and means of  a misdemeanor, things and documents which are its direct subject or which were found  during a detention of an individual, personal search or inspection of things);  
  • the list of grounds for detention of an individual who committed a misdemeanor is broader (e.g., refusal to fulfil a legal requirement to cease violation or making resistance; attempt to escape from the scene; being drunk and  posing threat to harm oneself or others);
  • an arrest of property provisionally  seized during inquiry is not required – such property can be stored in the case files without an control of the investigative judge until verdict is rendered;
  • the term of investigation of criminal misdemeanors prior to issuance of notice of suspicion  is not determined (unlike for investigation of crimes). It counts only if individual is detained and constitutes 72 hours in such case;
  • under certain circumstances the judge can hold  a court hearing  without calling of  participants and without a full hearing.

Please contact Asters Partner Sergiy Grebenyuk and Counsel Orest Stasiuk in case of any questions or a need to update the internal procedures and approaches to work with misdemeanors in view of the new requirements.

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