Criminal law aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic - Part II

On April 3, 2020 the National Council passed the 3rd Austrian COVID-19 Act (Federal Law Gazette I 23/2020), the 4th Austrian COVID-19 Act (Federal Law Gazette I 24/2020) and the 5th Austrian COVID-19 Act (Federal Law Gazette I 25/2020). These very extensive legislative packages were announced on April 4, 2020.


From a criminal law perspective, the 4th Austrian COVID-19 Act, which amended the previous power of the Federal Minister of Justice to issue ordinances (Federal Law Gazette I 16/2020), should be pointed out.

The Federal Minister of Justice can now order that the following time limits are suspended until April 30, 2020 and begin to run anew on May 1, 2020:

„Periods pursuant to Section 88 para 1, Section 92 para 1, Section 106 para 3 and 5 last sentence, Section 194 para 2, Section 195 para 2, Section 213 para 2, Section 276a, Section 284 para 1, Section 285 para 1 and 4, Section 294 para 1 and 2, Section 357 para 2, Section 408 para 1, Section 409 para 1, Section 427 para 3, Section 430 para 5, Section 466 para 1 and 2, Section 467 para 1 and 5, Section 478 para 1 and Section 491 para 6 Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure (“CCP”) and other time limits set by the Public Prosecutor's Office or the court".

The following additions concerning the suspension of time limits have thus been added: the period for granting an authorization to prosecute (Section 92 para 1 CCP), for the request of an explanation regarding the discontinuation of investigation proceedings (Section 194 para 2 CCP), for an appeal for continuation of investigation proceedings (Section 195 para 2 CCP), for raising an objection against the indictment (Section 213 para 2 CCP), for the submission of a counter-statement on the appeal for nullity (Section 285 para 4 CCP), for the opposing statement on the motion for reconsideration of criminal proceedings (Section 357 para 2 CCP), for the deposit of items, which are subject to forfeiture, extended forfeiture, confiscation or seizure (Section 408 para 1 CCP), for the payment of a fine (Section 409 para 1 CCP), for the complaint against the decision for a hearing in absentia in proceedings in connection with Section 21 para 1 Austrian Criminal Code ("CC") (Section 430 para 5 CCP), for the counter-statement on the appeal (Section 467 para 5 CCP) and for the objection against judgments in absentia (Section 478 para 1 CCP).

On the other hand, the 4th Austrian COVID-19 Act has removed the possibility of a potential suspension of time limits regarding the maximum duration of preliminary investigations pursuant to Section 108a CCP and the period for registering an appeal for nullity by legal representatives (Section 284 para 2 CCP).

The 3rd Austrian COVID-19 Act amended the time limits in financial criminal proceedings. Section 265a para 1 Austrian Code of Fiscal Offences ("FinStrG") now regulates that the period for objection (Section 145 para 1 FinStrG), the period for appeal (Section 1850 para 2 FinStrG), the period for filing an appeal (Section 150 para 4 FinStrG), the period for filing an application for reopening of the proceedings (Section 165 para 4 FinStrG), the period for filing an application for restitutio in integrum (Section 167 para 2 FinStrG) and the period for filing objections for the minutes (Section 56b para 3 FinStrG) are suspended if the period has not yet expired on March 16, 2020 or has started to run between March 16, 2020 and April 30, 2020. In this case, the periods shall begin to run anew on May 1, 2020.

If you have any questions regarding criminal law issues in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, our attorneys at wkk law Dr Norbert Wess ( Markus Machan (m.machan@wkklaw.atand Dr Vanessa McAllister (v.mcallister@wkklaw.atwill be pleased to provide you with legal expertise at any time.