Is it legal to break out of prison in Germany?

Is it legal to break out of prison in Germany?

One of the amazing facts
circulating the internet at the moment is that it is perfectly legal
to break out of a German prison. Is this a myth, or is it true? The background to all this
is that way back in 1880, German lawmakers decided
that you couldn’t punish people for acting on their natural human desires; and there is no human desire more natural
than the desire to be free. So yes, technically, it is true that it was never made illegal
to break out of prison… …per se.
And it’s that phrase “per se” that tells you there are
more things to take into consideration, because although escaping itself
may not be illegal, it certainly does normally involve
breaking some law or other. So, for example, sawing through
the bars on your window, that constitutes an act of vandalism. Punching a warder in the face
constitutes an act of assault. And giving somebody money
to smuggle you out of prison constitutes an act of bribery. Also, section 120 of the German Penal Code explicitly makes it illegal
to help somebody to escape from prison. So if you want to escape from prison
in Germany absolutely legally, you’re on your own.
And you also have to do it without breaking or stealing anything, and without assaulting or bribing anyone. Good luck on that. And even if you do manage it,
your troubles are still not over, because the authorities can
still catch up with you, they can still take you back to prison, and they can still make you
sit out the remainder of your sentence. Plus, although your escape may not
actually have been illegal, it certainly was against prison regulations; and so you can expect a loss of privileges. So, is it legal to break out of a German prison? Technically, yes. But that fact is not going
to be of any use to anybody at all.


98 thoughts on “Is it legal to break out of prison in Germany?”

  • Von diesem Geerücht hab ich noch nie gehört. Ich hoffe, ich werd jetzt nicht aus dem Internet ausgebürgert! 0.0

    Aber ich hab mich auch schon gefragt, ob es wohl ein Gesetz gegen einen versuchten Ausbruch gibt. Insofern, danke für die indirekte Klärung auch dieser Frage. 🙂

  • Seegal Galguntijak says:

    I would find it quite offensive to our constitutional state if an offender who did break out of jail without breaking any laws (hypothetically speaking, since this is next to impossible) could just tell the cops that came after him: "Hey guys, I broke out, so I am legally free now!"

  • Seegal Galguntijak says:

    (because it's what many people are thinking when they talk about the subject without the knowledge presented in this video).

  • Yes he could say that, even somebody that killed everybody in that prison could SAY that, but saying things out loud doesn't make them true

  • Don't post things like that. Most other viewers are not idiots. Btw are you sure? Your brackets make it look like you didn't get it.

  • Michael Zientkiewicz says:

    and again: it pays to have super powers. If a wizard-convict would break out of prison without damage or assault, escaping abroad – he would do this quite legally, right?

  • He'd still have to evade the authorities, which would be difficult. If he left the Schengen area, for example, he'd be stopped at the border (carrying false papers, of course, would be illegal). If he stayed in the Schengen area, he'd still need ID to open a bank account, get a job and so on. Soon, his ID would expire and he would have to apply to have it renewed.

  • Haloprogamer1996 says:

    Es ist das selbe wie mit Selbstmord. Es ist kein Verbrechen und stellt keinen Gesetzesbruch dar. Es ist "nur" eine Ordnungswidrigkeit.
    Ob das aber nach erfolgreichem Selbstmord mit einer Geldbuße oder ähnlichem belangt wird ist fragwürdig. ^^

    Its the same like with suicide. Its not a crime and does not pose a violation of the law. Its "just" an offense ( google translation for Ordnungswidrigkeit ).
    Although I dont know if, after a succesful suicide, you are going to pay a fine or not. ^^

  • Your best case scenario is that there is a natural disaster, (earthquake, flood, tornado etc) which:

    a- breaks down all the prison obstacles

    b- but still letting your survive

    c- every one else is to busy trying to save themselves for them to notice you slip away.

    Even then all the guards have to do is to say "in case of emergency, assemble in Safe Area" and you will be guilty of disobedience by not going to said safe area.

    You win this one Germany!

  • Ingrid Von Rozz says:

    i just moved to germany, do you know any good places online (or not) to meet people? since i dont speak german, it would be difficult to talk to them on the street

  • An "Ordnungswidrigkeit" ("offense" is not the right translation: "misdemeanour" would be better) is not a crime, but it is a violation of the law. For example, it is illegal to drive at 60km/h in a 50km/h speed limit, but it is not a crime.

    However, in German law, suicide is not even a misdemeanour, but is completely legal. This arises from the right to self-determination (Selbstbestimmungsrecht) based on Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law (Art. 2 Abs. 1 GG).

  • Michael Zientkiewicz says:

    right, unless he would make real good use of one or more of his super powers again. I am talking: invisibility, levitation and – most important – drinking milk and not spraying through his nose while laughing wildly. But still, the legal docs would possibly be a main problem. Poor wizard.

  • unfortunately, this is – and has been – subject to a lot of dispute… as far as I know, suicide is as legal as any homicide, yet legal actions against dead people are somewhat pointless… their "partners in crime" however may face prosecution, outlawing "aktive sterbehilfe" – active support.

  • The StGB is a bit ambiguous, as it outlaws killing "a human", not "another human"; but Art. 2 GG is usually interpreted as allowing suicide. Active euthanasia is indeed outlawed (§ 216 StGB), but passive euthanasia is not outlawed. The discussion has been about introducing a specific law on when assisted suicide is acceptable or not, so that doctors know exactly where they stand when dealing with a terminally ill patient.

  • Haloprogamer1996 says:

    Gut das wusste ich nicht. Ist also anscheinend eine Legende dass es eine Ordnungswidrigkeit darstellt
    Die Übersetzung wusste ich selbst nicht, aus dem Grund hab ich ja angegeben dass ich sie vom Google Übersetzer habe
    Man lernt nie aus. XD Danke für die Korrektur

    Good, I didnt knew that. Seems to be an urban legend that its an misdemeanour
    I didnt knew the translation for myself thats why i wrote that i got it from the google translator
    Well you never stop learning. XD Thanks for the correction

  • If you want to meet people, you always can do it the good old way: just go, for example, to a bar and talk to them. Just tell them you recently moved here and you're not speaking german yet, some won't understand you but most of them probably will. Just be self confident (also that's a great way to learn our language, after you've learned the basics)

  • i am austrian so i am wondering…in theory rape is legal as you follow human desires, but in practise it includes violation and stuff like that…would explain why rape isnt that a big deal in terms of time you get inprisoned. actually not paying taxes can get you in prison 5 times the ammount of years you gate for rape.

  • oh and btw some prisons in germany are so comfortable people would rather break in than out ^^ i can imagine a lot of homeless from the USA would literally kill for getting inside a german prison

  • you really have been to long in germany. you actually know germany and its laws better than most germans and THAT means something ^^ Buzt then you must be aware of, that the government since Kohl brakes the "Grundgesetz" and "Verfassung" on a regular basis without anything happening than the "verfassungsgericht" saying "you shouldnt do that…" and thats something i hate about germany. if the government breakes laws the once in charge should be put in prison and not continue breaking laws

  • you also have to sign a paper to allow a surgeon to treat you as his treatment involves breaking laws ("Körperverletzung") except it is a medical emergency.

  • oh and fun fact – rape is not a crime in itself it is listed under "Körperverletzung" which may be another reason why sentences are usually just around 2 years as you dont cause permament physical damage (in which case it would be "schwere Körperverletzung and get you up to 10 years) and its not lifethreatening (gefährliche Körperverletzung and…dont know what you get for that) but i am no lawyer

  • another fun fact stemming from 1880 – if you are disabled to at least 50% you can apply for "sexual assistance" if your insurance approves that its not really possible for you to find a sexual partner, they actually have to pay a hooker for you – these special hookers are called "sexcual assistance" and work for the state just like police officers.

  • What about a prisoner who is taken from A to B in a prison bus ( you know, the ones with the very small windows very high up) – let us say to medical treatment he cannot get within the prison walls- the bus has an accident and he gets out through the emergency doors and runs away? Some prisoners are happy to work in the open and we do not put heavy chains on their legs as in the USA. Escapes happen from time to time then, but as no hardened criminals "enjoy" this privilege it is a rare thing.

  • Actually, rape is a crime in itself under German law, and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years (§ 177 StGB). There was a big story in 1997, when the word "extra-marital" was removed from the text of the law, making marital rape illegal for the first time. Until then, it was rape only if the rapist and victim weren't married to each other.

  • Actually, that's not /quite/ true:
    Nearly every medical treatment falls under the definition of assault (Körperverletzung) in Germany and usually implicit consent suffices. However, judges say you can only consent, if you are aware of risks and consequences. Thus surgeons will have patients sign that they know the risks and consent, in order to have evidence in case a patient decides s/he's not happy with the outcome.

  • You seem to know a lot about German law 🙂 Do you do a lot of legal translations, or is it just a special interest of yours?

  • You may set up a document allowing the doctors to let you die by not prolonging your life artificially ( as long as you are mentally able to do so).

  • Sexualität für Körperlich Behinderte
    Menschen" (SKBM) – google it. Or try "Sexualassistenz Deutschland" In short, if you cant find a sexpartner for yourself cause of being disabled and cant pay a hooker yourself the state pays for it (part social office, part insurance) You can also look up "sexuelle assisenzt" as pdf there are some books about it

  • As far as I can discover, this service is offered by private companies and isn't supported by the state — at least, I can't find any evidence that says it is. There are legal problems with this, as it's hard to differentiate between this as prostitution. Also, if the patient is severely mentally disabled, it may be difficult to ascertain whether or not he or she is actually consenting, raising the possibility of rape charges.

  • yes that actually is a problem. The state supports it as far as the social department is involved in paying for the service. I know it made it bigger as it is for the lols but basicly they are stateemployed hookers with special training. Tough the topic of possible sexual abuse is ofc. raised

  • Yes it is legal. And if I remind correctly, have been there two guys, who managed to escape a prison legaly a few years ago. I think some of the guards left a door open or something:DD

  • Yes it is legal. And if I remind correctly, have been there two guys, who managed to escape a prison legaly a few years ago. I think some of the guards left a door open or something:DD

  • Even if you break out of prison without help and without assault or damage you will be charged with embezzlement of prison clothing (§ 246 StGB).

  • Also rechtlich gesehen, passiert da erst mal wenig, wenn dabei nichts passiert! Wird dabei etwas beschädigt, muss derjenige dafür aufkommen, oder wenn jemand dabei sogar verletzt wird, Schadensersatz zahlen. Dennoch muss er, wenn er erwischt wird, seine Strafe noch absitzen!

  • ahm grat vid, but you forgot to mention, that not all people can be charged with 120 stgb , there is a gap in the law for clos relatives.

    but did you know that it is completly illegal to be naked in public, while it is completly fine to be completly naked while you sit in your car and drive around!

  • Thanks for this very informative and correct explanation.   I may add that you will also have to break out of prison naked,  because taking your jail-issued cloth with you is stealing prison property.        Greets from Westphalia, Germany.

  • Not of use? Well, they can't drag you to court unless you've done anything illegal. As such, all that happens, if done correctly, is that the warden frowns upon you.

  • Surely its true since one of your first human rights is the right of freedom and as long as you dont break anyother laws while doing it you wont stay longer in jail for it

  • Furzkampfbomber says:

    Not of any use for anybody? I beg to differ.

    There were, for instance, cases in the USA, where people got imprisoned while being in fact innocent, escaped at some point of their prisonment, got caught again and then later got released, because their innocence was discovered. And then they had to serve years for their illegal escape attempt.

    I´d rather get charged for destroying something or punching someone in the face.

  • There is no law that forbids you to break out of prison, so no judge will add extra time to your sentence for that. However, there is a law that allows legally armed personell, like security guards and police officers, to fire their duty weapon at you, when you breake out of prison. So, while not illegal, it is still quite risky.

  • firstvoodoochild says:

    Es ist auch nicht verboten, jemanden umzubringen (obwohl er dir in diesem Moment keine Gefahr darstellt) wenn man dadurch sein eigenes Leben retten kann. Beispiel: In einem Rettungsboot gibt es keinen Platz mehr. Man erschießt einen im Rettungsboot, um dann dessen Platz einzunehmen um so zu überleben.

  • Stephan Spielmann says:

    In Germany there is a mode of being "in prison" where the people are allowed to leave the prison at daylight, but have to come back in the evening. If people don't come back they don't get an extra-time in prison, but loose this and other privileges.

  • I think it is quite similar to the fact that defendants are allowed or even expected to lie in front of a court. That is why they don't have to swear any oath and cannot be charged for perjury (in contrary to witnesses, who have to tell the truth).

  • …und noch ein Rechtsirrtum aus Deutschland: TIERQUÄLEREI.
    Es gibt im deutschen Gesetz keinen Eintrag, der das Quälen von Tieren regelt. Im Auge des Gesetzgebers sind Tiere Gegenstände, so wie Autos, Häuser, Tische. Wer ein Tier quält, oder tötet, begeht Sachbeschädigung. Hierfür kann er dann auch vom Gericht verurteilt werden – aber nicht wegen Tierquälerei.

  • spaghettimonster11 says:

    Ich denke Vollzugsbeamte nennen diesen 'legalen' Ausbruch Trickentweichung.

    Wenn sich z. B. ein Gefangener während der Arbeitszeit in den Wäschewagen schmuggelt und unerkannt entkommt, ist dies eine Trickentweichung.

  • In Germany, after 2/3rd of your sentence you can expect to be released on probation. If you are a recapured inmate, most likely you will have to spend the full time in prison. 

  • Unfortunetaly, everyone who might desire to break out of prison can't watch this video. Because as far as I know, there is no possibility for detained people to watch videos on Youtube. 😉

  • Nunja eigentlich ist es für manche Gefange relativ einfach ohne ein Gesetz zu brechen zu fliehen. Es gibt viele Verbrecher die wegen guter Führung und nur geringer Strafe in den offen Vollzug gelangen oder mal Freigang haben. natürlich sind diese Aufenthalte unter Auflagen gegeben, aber direkt ein Gesetz wird man durch eine Flucht auf diesen Weg nicht brechen müssen.

  • Not returning from a weekend leave is the way to legally break out, but you must not expect to have any further weekend leaves

  • If you want to break out of a german prison the guards will get you
    -if the guards dont get you, the dogs will get you
    -if the dogs dont get you, the barbed wire will get you
    -if the barbed wire dont get you, the police will get you
    -if the police dont get you, I will get you
    -if I dont get you, we will sit down and talk about Kants categorical imperative and Schopenhauers criticism, then we will find a solution…..

  • It's actually not true that it is of no use.

    You can perfectly well escape without breaking the law. For example during day release or a supervised day pass.

    Two examples why the statement is wrong assuming an escape like above.

    You get caught again. You will most likely have to finish your time without any privileges or parole. But you will NOT do extra time for the escape. This is very different in other countries.I.e. in the US. You will do extra time for escaping because it's a crime. That is a questionable advantage but it clearly is one.

    More important example. You are perfectly innocent. During your escape the actual offender is found and convicted. This is not a rather common scenario but it does happen from time to time. Now IF that happens you can return from your exile because the escape was not a crime you can be charged for. This again is very different in other countries where you would be acquitted of the original charges but since escaping is a felony itself you could go back to jail for that. Again the example would be the US. Of course that is not just a legal but also a political question. Incarcerating innocent people isn't exactly popular and charging an innocent fugitive might evolve into a scandal. But there is no guarantee this is not going to happen and you usually won't know before you returned.

  • one important point you missed is that if you are a prisoner, you're quite often wearing prison clothes. Escaping prison while wearing prison clothes fits the act of stealing others property. Needless to say that you can be sentenced for that.

  • I minored in law at a german university and I remember that our teacher told us that although you don't break any law that forbids breaking out of prison you still get some punishment.

    That punishment is that if you lets say break out of prison and the police catches you after 2 two weeks, they then bring you back so you can finish your sentence that you were in for and then on top of that you have to stay in prison for the two weeks you were away.

  • So the guys in Hogan's Heroes could have gone home at any time by going over the fence. No law broken there. No vandalism, no assault, no bribery, and no help….

  • Yes, you can break out without making any damage and not be penalized. (but give the clothes to a lawyer to bring it back!)

  • Gilder von Schattenkreuz says:

    Well. I think we just had that case in the Newspaper which was exactly what this Law is for ^^

    A Warden left the Gate Open while Unloading/Loading his Van of Supplies.
    A Prisoner tasked with cleaning the Yard saw it and just made a Run for it 🙂

    I mean come on.
    You cant really Punish anyone for seeing that Open Gate and just Following his Natural Desire to Run away ^^
    It would be like putting an Bucket with Candy in front of an 3 Year Old and then Punishing him if he touches it. ^^

  • Claudia Solomon says:

    So, if I'm in a Deutsch prison, it is legal to escape as long as I don't damage my cell or fight a prison guard or receive help from a friend outside of prison or wear the prison clothes once I attain freedom?? Wow?? You, clever, clever Krauts LOL!! (BTW, is Kraut offensive?? )

  • Gilder von Schattenkreuz says:

    Actually this Law is True. And Such Escapes have Happened.
    And by the way. This Law makes alot of Sense to be Honest.

    For High Security Prisons. This Video is indeed True.
    There is usually Doubled Doors and Checkpoints for any Supply and Material Deliveries.
    There is Guards Posted around 24 Hours a Day.
    There is Cameras and Dogs and Prisoners are Counted and Confirmed to be in a Safe Room before any Gate is Opened.
    Any Carts and Supplys are Checked and Controlled before leaving the Prison etc etc etc.

    As such Breaking out of such Prisons without Breaking the Law is pretty much Impossible. Or at least Requires Quite the Genius Plan and a tremendous amount of Luck.

    Many Prisons in Germany are not High Security.
    People which only Serve a 3 Month Sentence before moving towards Probation thus not being likely to attempt an escape.
    Or People which serve a 2 Year Sentence but who are in General considered Harmless thus an escape not really posing a danger.
    Are usually Send to Prisons with Low Security.
    These Prisons often only have Guards outside while the Prisoners are in the Yard. So a Prisoner once managed to hide in a Laundry Cart in the Yard and then Escape when the Prisoners and Guards went back inside.

    Some of these Prisons even allow Good behaved Prisoners to go out in Town for a few Hours during a Day. Or to go Home visiting their Family.
    And guess what. Most of these Prisoners actually come back or only "Accidently" break out of Prison because they came back to the Prison too late 😛

    But the thing where this Law really Fulfills its Purpose is another case.
    Where during Yard Time with the Prisoners. Civillian Contractors Unloaded Supplies and Laundry for the Prison. Thus having the Gate Open while the Prisoners were in the Yard.
    Thus a Prisoner not being able to Withstand the Temptation and in an unnoticed Moment just Walking right out of the Gate and Running away ^^

    I mean come on ^^
    You cant Really Punish someone for this one can you ^^
    He just Followed the completely Natural desire to Flee from his Imprisonment.
    Punishing him for this would be quite Cruel.

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