What is the punishment for sexual harassment, § 184i StGB? Court summons, indictment, criminal order

Police crime statistics for 2021 recorded nearly 13,000 cases of sexual harassment.

There are various scenarios. Sexual harassment at work, on public transport, on the street… Sexual harassment happens almost everywhere.

According to a study by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, which was conducted in 2018-2019, one in eleven respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past 3 years.

By the way, sexual harassment does not mean only physical attacks – groping. Sexual harassment can also be and is especially committed through words, appropriate statements or gestures.

But how is sexual harassment punished?

Sexual harassment is “normally” punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years.

In so-called particularly serious cases, the punishment is higher. Then there is a risk of imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years.

And what constitutes a particularly serious case of sexual harassment?

There is no general answer to this question. It depends on the specific case. Does it stand out in such a way that a realistically designed penalty system is no longer considered appropriate.

However, the law provides an example in which usually it can be considered a particularly serious case. Namely in the case of sexual harassment, which is committed by several people together.

“But it wasn’t meant to be” – Do you go unpunished if you had no sexual intent?

Not necessarily. Sexual harassment is determined objectively, not subjectively. The deciding factor is whether someone engages in an act that, from an outside perspective, amounts to sexual harassment. However, behavior that does not seem sexual at first glance can also be so if it is caused by the circumstances of the situation. (See BGH, decision of 13 March 2018 – 4 StR 570/17, NJW 2018, 2655).

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Suggestive speech for the sole purpose of humiliation can also constitute sexual harassment.

The fact that it was “not meant that way” does not prevent punishment.

Is sexual harassment always punishable?

no Sexual harassment is a so-called relational crime. This means that a criminal act will only be prosecuted if an appropriate request for prosecution is made. It can usually be a victim of an action. Or if the authorities confirm a so-called special public interest in prosecuting. Investigative authorities can then take action without filing a criminal complaint.

A conviction for sexual harassment can be more than just a fine or jail time. In the worst case, sexual harassment at work can result in losing your job. So, if you are accused of sexual harassment, you should contact an attorney directly who can review the case for you and properly represent your interests.

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