GLOSSARY

A B C D E F G H I J K L MN O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Aggression
An aggression is violent, sudden and unprovoked attack. An aggression can be physical or even verbal. Acts of physical violence that constitute offences punishable by law (contravention, offence or crime). The penal sanctions depend on the severity of the injuries inflicted on the victim. Verbal aggression can have a penal classification. This is the case for an insult or a threat.

Appearance-based discrimination
Appearance-based discrimination refers to the act of judging a person by their appearance. It does not only involve their appearance, that is their face, but also their clothes, the colour of their skin and their accent. Generally, the expression is applied to discriminatory or racist practices.

B

Blackmail
Blackmail is the act of obtaining either a signature, a commitment or a renunciation, the revelation of a secret, or the handing over of funds, valuables or any asset, by threatening to reveal or impute facts liable to undermine a person’s honour or reputation.

Breach of Professional Confidentiality
According to Article 226-13 of the French Penal Code, this is the disclosure of a piece of confidential information by a person who is its depositary either by state or by profession, either because of a job or a temporary assignment. This is punished by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros.

Breach of Trust
Breach of trust is defined in Article 314-1 of the French Penal Code as being “committed when a person, to the prejudice of other persons, misappropriates funds, valuables or any property that were handed over to him and that he accepted subject to the condition of returning, redelivering or using them in a specified way”.

Break-in
According to Article 132-73 of the French Penal Code, a break-in consists of forcing, damaging or destroying any closing device or any kind of fence.  Break-in also includes the use of skeleton keys, wrongfully obtained keys or any instrument that can be fraudulently employed to operate a closing device without forcing or damaging it.

C

Collusion
According to Article 121-7 of the French Penal Code, the accomplice to a felony or a misdemeanour is the person who knowingly, by aiding and abetting, facilitates its preparation or commission. Any person who, by means of a gift, promise, threat, order, or an abuse of authority and powers, provokes the commission of an offence or gives instructions to commit it, is also an accomplice.

Confidentiality Agreement
The object of a confidentiality agreement, also known as a secrecy clause, discretion clause or a non-disclosure agreement, is to impose silence on the partner around information that is communicated to them, such as technical, business or financial information, or silence on the existence of negotiations or a contractual relationship. It puts its debtor under the obligation of not doing.

Contravention
One of the categories of criminal offences that is punished solely by means of a fine or ancillary punishments (for example, the suspension of a driving licence). In terms of the severity of offence, contravention is less serious than a misdemeanour, which itself is less serious than a felony.

Counterfeiting
Counterfeiting is the reproduction or imitation of an object, (particularly official) document, a work or a goods, either by stating or letting it be assumed that it is authentic, or by violating an intellectual property right or copyright.

D

E

Evidence
A piece of evidence is an object or document that establishes the reality of a fact or a legal act. All types of evidence (written, oral testimony, confession, scientific examination, etc.) are admitted before the judge. However, they must all be researched and produced in keeping with the rules of law.

F

Felony
Felony refers to the most serious offences in French criminal law. The person accused of a felony is judged in a court of assizes in front of a jury. It incurs a prison sentence (minimum of 15 years and maximum of life), as well as possible fines (minimum 3,750 euros for a natural person and 75,000 euros for a legal person) or ancillary punishments (bans, confiscations, etc.). It has a statute of limitations of 10 years.

Flagrant felony
Flagrant felony is the legal term employed to refer to a situation in which an individual is caught in the act of committing a felony or misdemeanour – Article 53 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure.

Fraud
This is an act that is committed by using unfair means designed to fraudulently obtain consent, an unfair material or moral advantage or committed with the intention of avoiding the enforcement of Laws.

Fraudulent Obtaining
According to Article 313-1 of the French Penal Code, fraudulent obtaining is the act of deceiving a natural or legal person by the use of a false name or a fictitious capacity, by the abuse of a genuine capacity, or by means of unlawful manoeuvres, thereby to lead such a person, to their prejudice or to the prejudice of a third party, to transfer funds, valuables or any property, to provide a service or to consent to an act incurring or discharging an obligation. Fraudulent obtaining is punished by five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 375,000 euros.

G

H

Handrail
A handrail is a declaration made by an individual and documented in a police or gendarmerie register, and that seeks to date events of a certain gravity but that do not necessarily single-handedly constitute an infraction, that is a contravention, an offence or a felony.

Hit and run
According to Article 434-10 of the French Penal Code, a hit and run is the act, for any driver of a terrestrial vehicle, or a river or sea-going craft, knowing that they have just caused or brought about an accident, of not stopping or attempting to evade the criminal or civil liability that they may have incurred. This offence is punished by three years in prison and a fine of €75,000. According to Article 434-45 of the French Penal Code, natural persons convicted of the offence referred to under Article 434-10 also incur the suspension of their driving licence for a maximum period of five years. This suspension may not be restricted to the driving of a vehicle outside of professional activities.

I

Incivilities
Incivilities refer to the disorders or misbehaviours that, without being expressly targeted by the Penal Code, constitute failures to comply with the basic rules of societal life: noise disturbances, damages, lack of respect.

Infraction
An infraction is a behaviour that is strictly forbidden by criminal law and punished by a sentence laid down by the aforementioned law. There are three categories of infractions whose nature determines the penalty that applies to it: contravention, offence and felony.

Internal Security Code
The Code de la Sécurité Intérieure [Internal Security Code], or CSI, is, in French law, a legal code created in 2012 to group together the legislative and regulatory provisions that touch upon internal security.

Invasion of Privacy
According to Article 226-1 of the French Penal Code, this infringement is committed, by any means, when the intimacy of the private life of other persons is violated by intercepting, recording or transmitting words uttered in private or confidential circumstances, without the consent of the person concerned, or by taking, recording or transmitting the picture of a person who is within a private place, without the consent of the person concerned. This is punished by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.

J

K

L

Legal Proceeding
Refers to all the rules laid down by the law or by the regulation that must be respected by jurisdictions and public persons for the successful completion of a trial and the respect of citizen’s rights and liberties.

M

N

O

Offence
An offence is a level of qualification of criminal offences that is defined by the severity of the established sentence to punish them and that are, without exception, judged by a criminal court. An offence is an infraction of medium severity between an infraction and a felony. The maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years and the fine can be up to 3,750 euros for a natural person and 18,750 euros for a legal person.

P

Police custody
Police custody is a preventative measure decided by a police officer, under the control of a judicial authority, by which a person against which there exists one or more plausible reasons to suspect that they have committed or attempted to commit a felony or an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment is upheld by the provisions of the investigators.

Q

R

S

Self-defence
Article 122-5 of the French Penal Code indicates that a person is not criminally liable if, confronted with an unjustified attack upon themselves or upon another, they perform at that moment an action compelled by the necessity of self-defence or the defence of another person, except where the means of defence used are not proportionate to the seriousness of the attack. Likewise, a person is not criminally liable if, to interrupt the commission of a felony or a misdemeanour against property, they perform an act of defence other than wilful murder, where the act is strictly necessary for the intended objective if the means used are proportionate to the gravity of the offence.

Swindling
Swindling is the term chosen by the legislator to refer to e.g. ordering food or drink in a restaurant and being unable or unwilling to pay for it (Article 313-5 of the French Penal Code). This criminal provision predominantly punishes the person who is unable to pay or who has decided not to honour their debt.

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z