1. Content and Procedure
Administrative offence law is modelled on substantive criminal law except for a few dogmatic subtleties (e.g. conceptual summary of perpetration and participation, “Einheitstäterschaft”, § 14 OWiG). However, the OWiG also contains procedural provisions, the StPO as procedural rules only applies as a supplement (§ 46 OWiG). Therefore, searches or seizures are also possible in the fine proceedings. If an act constitutes both a criminal offence and an administrative offence, the penal law takes precedence (§ 21 OWiG) and the public prosecutor’s office is responsible (§ 40 OWiG).
The legal consequences and the actors involved are different. The fine of the administrative offence law (§§ 65 ff. OWiG) as administrative sanction does not represent a real criminal penalty, since this is reserved to the judiciary. The fine is usually imposed by the public authorities (§ 35 OWiG). In contrast to criminal law, in which the prosecution of crimes on the basis of the mandatory prosecution system is one of the duties of the public prosecutor’s office, the discretionary prosecution system applies to administrative offences. As a result, prosecution is at the discretion of the administrative authority.
The OWiG itself often contains relevant facts such as Stating False Names (§ 111 OWiG: Particular significance also for the statement in the preliminary proceedings), Inadmissible Noise (§ 117 OWiG, fine up to 5000 €), Public Nuisance (§ 118 OWiG; not to be confused with “Causing a public disturbance”, which entails punishability according to § 183a StGB), Keeping Dangerous Animals (§ 121 OWiG) and Total intoxication (§ 122 OWiG).
Many catalogues of fines explicitly distinguish between first-time offenders and repeat offenders in order to impose stricter sanctions in cases of recidivism.
The fine is generally between five euros and, unless the law provides otherwise, one thousand euros (§ 17 Abs. 1 OWiG).