According to Law 217/2003(*republished*), Art. 3 “domestic abuse means any inaction or intentional action of physical, sexual, psychological, economic, social, spiritual or cyber violence that occurs in the family or domestic environment or between spouses or former spouses, as well as between current or former partners, whether the abuser lives or has lived with the victim.”


According to Law 217/2003(republished), Art. 4

(1) Domestic violence can take the following forms:

a) verbal violence - addressing through offensive, brutal language, such as the use of insults, threats, degrading or humiliating words and expressions;

 b) psychological abuse - imposing the will or personal control, provoking states of tension and mental suffering in any way and/or by any means, by verbal threats, blackmail, demonstrative violence on objects and animals, ostentatious display of weapons, neglect, control of personal life, acts of jealousy, coercion of any kind, unlawful stalking, monitoring of the home, workplace or other places frequented by the victim, making telephone calls or other types of communications by means of distance transmission, which by frequency, content or the moment they are made create fear, as well as other actions with similar effect.

c) physical abuse - personal injury by beating, pushing, knocking down, hair pulling, pricking, cutting, burning, choking, biting, in any form and intensity, including those disguised as the result of accidents, through poisoning, intoxication, and other actions with similar effect, submission to exhausting physical effort or activities with high degree of risk to life or health and physical integrity, other than those at let. e);

d) sexual violence - sexual aggression, imposing degrading acts, harassment, intimidation, manipulation, brutality in order to have forced sexual relations, rape, including marital rape;

e) economic abuse - prohibition of professional activity, deprivation of economic means, including deprivation of means of primary existence, such as food, medicines, first-aid items, intentional theft of the person's goods, prohibition of the right to own, use and dispose of the common goods, inequitable control over the common goods and resources, the refusal to support the family, the imposition of heavy and harmful work to the detriment of health, including to a minor family member, as well as other actions with similar effect.

f) social abuse - imposing the isolation of the individual from the family, community and friends, the prohibition of attending the educational institution or the workplace, the prohibition / limitation of professional achievement, the imposition of isolation, including in the common house, the deprivation of access to the living space, deprivation of identity documents, intentional deprivation of access to information, as well as other actions with similar effect.

g) spiritual abuse - can consist in underestimating or diminishing the importance of satisfying the moral-spiritual needs by banning, limiting, ridiculing, penalizing the aspirations of family members, the access to cultural, ethnic, linguistic or religious values, prohibiting the right to speak in the mother tongue and to teach children to speak in their mother tongue, to impose adherence to unacceptable spiritual and religious beliefs and practices, as well as other actions with similar effect or similar repercussions.

h) cyber violence - online harassment, online gender-related hate speech, online stalking, online threats, non-consensual publication of information and intimate graphic content, illegal access (interception) of communications and private data and any other form of misuse of information technology and communications via computers, smartphones or other similar devices that use telecommunications or can connect to the Internet and transmit and use social or e-mail platforms for the purpose of embarrassing, humiliating, intimidating, threatening, or silencing the victim.

    (2) Under no circumstances may custom, culture, religion, tradition and honor be considered as justification for any type of violence defined in this law.


Who is subject to these provisions?

Art. 5 of Law 217/2003 (republished) 

(1) For the purposes of this Law, family member means:

a) ascendants and descendants, siblings, their spouses and children, as well as persons who become relatives by adoption, according to the law;

b) the spouse and/or ex-spouse; siblings, parents and children from other relationships of the spouse or ex-spouse;

c) persons who have established relationships similar to those between spouses or between parents and children, current or former partners, regardless of whether or not they have lived with the abuser, ascendants and descendants of the partner, as well as their siblings;

d) the guardian or another person who exercises in fact or in law rights related to the child;

e) the legal representative or another person who takes care of a person with mental illness, intellectual disability or physical disability, except for those who fulfill these attributions in the exercise of professional duties.

(2) For the purposes of this Law, victim means a natural person who is subjected to one or more of the forms of violence provided in art. 4, including children witnessing such forms of violence.


How is it sanctioned?

In the New Criminal Code, it is provided under art. 199 that the criminal offenses of murder, aggravated murder, battery and other acts of violence or battery leading to death committed against a family member are punished more severely, the maximum limit of these punishments increasing by a quarter.


How is domestic violence reported?

In the case of family conflicts, the police can act after a written referral was filed at the police station competent over the territorial area of the victim's home (if it is made by the victim it is called a complaint, if it is made by a witness it is called a denunciation), following a telephone call to the service officer of the police station/unit in the respective area or a call to the Single Emergency Call Service 112 (which can be made by anyone aware of such events), a verbal referral made by anyone directly to the police officer patrolling or, the police may find out from the media or during an intervention in a different case.  An ex officio referral is the way in which the police find out about an offense in any other way than the victim's complaint.

Referrals about such acts of domestic violence may also be filed by persons with management positions within a public administration authority or within other public authorities, public institutions or other legal persons under public law, as well as by any person with control powers who, in the exercise of their powers, have become aware of the commission of an offense for which criminal proceedings are instituted ex officio. They are obliged to immediately notify the criminal investigation body and to take measures so that the traces of the offense, the corpora delicti and any other means of evidence do not disappear. (art. 291 of the Criminal Procedure Code)

The victim must know that they can refer a prior complaint to the criminal investigation body or the prosecutor. The right to lodge such a complaint is personal and belongs to the injured party. The prior criminal complaint may also be lodged by an agent, in which case the power of attorney must be drawn specifically for this purpose and must remain attached to the complaint during the proceedings.

The criminal action in case of offenses punishable upon prior complaint of the injured person, for example:

  • battery or other acts of violence (art.193 of the Criminal Code)
  • threats (art.206 of the Criminal Code)
  • rape in non-aggravating forms (art. 218 para. 1 and para. 2 of the Criminal Code)
  • sexual assault in non-aggravating forms (art. 219 para. 1 of the Criminal Code)
  • theft between family members (art. 231 para. 1 of the Criminal Code)
  • destruction (art. 253 para. 1 and para. 2 of the Criminal Code)     

is governed by the principle of availability: the victim may decide to withdraw the complaint, a situation which extinguishes the criminal action previously initiated.

In the case of the offense of battery or other acts of violence committed against a family member, the criminal action may be initiated ex officio, and in this case, the victim's will to stop the punishment of the aggressor can no longer be manifested.

For the other categories of offenses (for which the law does not require the lodging of a prior criminal complaint), the criminal investigation bodies do not need the express manifestation of will of the injured person to prosecute the perpetrator, regardless of how they found out about it (complaint, ex officio).

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