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Directives Governing Liability To Punishment


Article 734- Reference to General Principles.

            Except in cases where the provisions of this Book state otherwise,
the principles and rules of the general part of the Criminal Code
shall apply to petty offences, due regard being had to the spirit and nature of the law (Art. 3. Par. 2).

Article 735- Petty Offences.

A person commits a petty offence when he infringes the mandatory or prohibitive provisions of a law or regulation issued by a competent authority or when he commits a minor offence which is not punishable under the Criminal Law, and such infringement or minor offence is subject to punishment under the provisions below (Arts. 746-775).

Article 736- Application as to Offence.

(1)    In accordance with the principle of legality (Art. 2(1 to 4)), petty offences by the provisions of this Code or by a special provision are alone liable to punishment and the penalties applicable shall be those which are expressly prescribed in respect thereof.
Such provisions are enforceable only if the act does not fall under an express provision imposing a more severe penalty.
One and the same act cannot be punished both under the provisions of the Criminal Code and the Code of Petty Offences (Art. 2(5)).
(2)    Petty offences shall always be punished under the provisions in force at the time of their commission, and there shall be not retrospective effect as to their application (Art. 5).
Upon the coming into force of this Code, its provisions shall apply to all petty offences mentioned in the Special Part of this Code.

Article 737- Equality before the law.

The provisions relating to petty offences shall apply to all petty offenders alike without discrimination (Art. 4)

Article 738- Application as to Place.

(1)    Petty offences shall be deemed to have been committed at the place where the offender acted or had the legal obligation to act (Art. 25).
They shall be governed as a rule by the principle of territoriality (Art. 11).
(2)    Petty offences committed in Ethiopia shall always be tried in accordance with Ethiopian law when the petty offender is in Ethiopia. They shall give rise neither to delegation (Art. 12) nor to extradition (Art. 21).
(3)    Petty offences committed in a foreign country by an Ethiopian or against an Ethiopian subject (Art. 18) shall not be punished in Ethiopia:
Petty offences committed in a foreign country by an Ethiopian enjoying immunity (Art. 14) shall not be punished in Ethiopia.
(4)    Petty offences of a purely military character provided by Ethiopian military law (Art. 792) shall always be tried by the military authority and punished according to Ethiopian law whether they were committed in Ethiopia or in a foreign country.
If, however, the doer was already tried for the same act by a foreign Court a fresh penalty may be dispensed with.

Article 739- Foreign Sentences.

         Convictions or sentences passed on petty offences by a foreign Court shall
not be taken into consideration for the assessment of sentence as regards
crimes or petty offences tried by Ethiopian Courts (Art. 22).



Article 740- Punishable Acts and Persons.

(1)    In the matter of petty offences preparatory acts and attempts shall not be punishable.
(2)    Likewise, incitement, complicity and being accessory after the fact are not liable to punishment. The petty offender (Art. 32) shall alone be punishable.
(3)    In the matter of petty offences a juridical person is not punishable for incitement or complicity, it is punishable only when its official or employee violates laws, regulations or directives as a petty offender in accordance with Article 32 of this Code.
(4)    The provisions relating to petty offences shall apply also to young persons within the meaning of the Criminal Code (Arts. 52-55).
(5)    The relevant provisions of the Criminal Code relating to crimes committed through mass media (Arts. 42-47) are applicable to petty offences.

Article 741- Conditions for Liability to Punishment.

(1)    The provisions of the Criminal Code concerning criminal responsibility and irresponsibility (Arts. 48-50) shall apply to petty offences.
(2)    Any person shall be punishable whether he contravened the law intentionally or negligently (Arts. 57 – 59) save in cases where the law expressly exempts from liability to punishment in respect of an act committed by negligence.
(3)    Responsibility and liability to punishment for petty offences shall always be individual (Arts. 41 and 88).

Article 742- Measures for Purposes of Clarification.

Measures for the taking of expert advice and the carrying out of enquiries provided in respect to ordinary crimes (Arts. 51 and 54) shall be ordered only if questions as to the petty offender’s responsibility cannot otherwise be decided by the Court.

Article 743- Justification and Excuses.

(1)    The provisions governing lawful acts (Art. 68), the performance of a legal, official or professional duty (Art. 69), consent of the victim (Art. 70), absolute coercion (Art. 71), necessity (Art. 75) and self-defence (Art. 78), shall apply to petty offences.
In cases of resistible coercion or excess of necessity or self-defence the petty offender shall be punishable but the Court shall reduce the penalty within the limits authorized by law (Art. 766).
(2)    In the case of a hierarchical order the subordinate shall not be punishable if he obeyed a person of higher rank acting within his authority and did not exceed the order received. The person who gave the order shall be fully responsible therefor (Art. 73).
The subordinate shall be responsible for any conscious and intentional excess in the performance of the order received.

Article 744- Mistake.

(1)    He who committed a petty offence may not plead as justification ignorance of the law or a mistake as to right (Art. 81).
(2)    If he acted under a proven mistake of fact which excluded knowledge or intention to commit an offence he shall not be liable to punishment (Art. 80).

Article 745- Extenuating and Aggravating Circumstances.

(1)    Where a person guilty of a petty offence acted in extenuating circumstances as provided by the Criminal Code (Art. 82 and 83), the Court may take such circumstances into account by reducing the penalty or altering its nature as provided hereafter (Art. 766).
(2)    Where the petty offender acted in aggravating circumstances as provided by the Criminal Code (Arts. 84 and 85) the Court shall increase the penalty as provided hereafter (Art. 767-770).
(3)    Where there exists a combination of extenuating and aggravating circumstances, the Court shall have due regard to both in determining the penalty (Art. 189).