The Framework of Criminal Law
Legislation on Bias-motivated Violence
|Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses||Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor||Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes|
Bias Types Covered by Provisions on Aggravating Circumstances
|Race/National Origin/Ethnicity||Religion||Sexual Orientation||Gender||Disability||Other|
Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor
The Criminal Code of France contains several provisions that allow for the racist and other bias motives to be taken into account for a wide range of specifically defined violent criminal acts.
In 2003, France amended its criminal code to make a racist motive an aggravating factor in punishing certain specific crimes. The Loi Lellouche (Law 2003-88 of February 3, 2003), passed unanimously by the French Parliament on February 3, 2003, created article 132-76 of the criminal code which mandates more severe penalties for crimes of violence committed by virtue of the victim’s actual or supposed membership or non-membership of a particular ethnic group, nation, race, or religion. Criteria for determining the motivation of the offense include the use of “spoken or written words, images, items, or acts of any kind that are injurious to the honor or esteem of the victim, or group of persons including the victim, by virtue of their actual or supposed membership or non-membership of a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion.”
Following the adoption of Law 2003-239 of March 18, 2003, a new article 132-77 was added to the criminal code that extended the provisions on aggravating circumstances to include bias founded on sexual orientation, real or supposed.
The crimes to which these provisions apply include willful homicide, torture and barbarous acts, violence inadvertently resulting in death, violence resulting in permanent disfigurement or disability, violence entailing nine or more days of sick leave from work, violence entailing up to eight or fewer days of sick leave or no sick leave, damage to private property, and damage to private property caused by dangerous means. In March 2004, these provisions were extended to apply to threats, thefts, and extortion motivated by racial bias, through Law 2004-204 of March 9, 2004.
Specific penalty enhancements are stipulated in the criminal code provisions dealing with these specific crimes. For example, the aggravated penalties for both racist and homophobic crimes include life imprisonment instead of 30 years for murder, and fifteen rather than ten years of imprisonment for violent attacks leading to permanent disability.
 Criminal Code of France, Article 132-76, http://www.legislationline.org/upload/legislations/cd/1b/f05864013134135c992550ab7c98.htm.
 Criminal Code of France, Article 132-77. “This circumstance is fulfilled if the offence is preceded, accompanied or followed by spoken or written words, images, items or acts of any kind that are injurious to the honor or esteem of the victim, or group of persons including the victim, by virtue of their actual or supposed sexual orientation.”
 Criminal Code of France, Articles 221-4, 222-10.