Criminal Fines: Imprisonment and monetary fine

The German Criminal Code (StGB) has two main penalties: imprisonment and a monetary fine. The law provides for the imposition of a financial fine for so-called “misdemeanours”. In contrast, offences are referred to as “crimes”, which provide for a minimum sentence of one year imprisonment as a legal consequence.

How is a criminal fine calculated?

1. Financial Penalty

The fine (financial penalty) is imposed according to § 40 Abs. 1 S. 1 StGB in daily rates; it must amount to at least five, but not more than three hundred and sixty daily rates. According to § 40 Abs. 2 S. 3 StGB, the amount of a daily rate is between one and thirty thousand euros.

2. Daily Rates

A distinction is made between the number of daily rates and the amount of daily rates. The number of the imposed daily rates makes a judgement about the measure of the guilt of the perpetrator, which is also expressed in § 43 StGB: If the fine cannot be produced, is converted one to one, i.e. one daily rate corresponds to one day imprisonment.

The amount of the daily rates is derived from the potentially available net daily income. The monthly net income is divided by thirty. The purpose of calculating the potential daily income is to ensure that the fine hits everyone equally hard. If the income is unknown, the court may estimate it. If the convicted person has no income in the sense of a salary, it depends on the sum generally available to him.

The product of the daily rate number and the daily rate amount finally results in the punishment imposed. Any press reports that merely state the amount of the fine have only very limited informative value. Because only the daily rate number says something about the severity of the act. The daily rate, on the other hand, only allows conclusions to be drawn about the offender’s financial situation.

3. Calculation of Money Fines

An example for illustration:

A has a net income of 6.000,- Euro per month. He is sentenced to a fine of 10 daily rates. A daily rate of A is 200,- Euro high (6.000,- Euro ÷ 30 days). The penalty imposed is thus 2,000 euros (daily rate: 10 × daily rate: 200 euros).

B has only 600,- Euro available per month, so his daily rate is 20,- Euro (600,- Euro ÷ 30 days). B is sentenced to a fine of 100 daily rates. B must therefore also pay a fine of 2,000 euros (daily rate: 100 × daily rate: 20 euros).