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Criminal Code

According to the 1961 Criminal Code, a crime was a socially dangerous act or failure to act. Insignificant acts that did not present a "social danger" were not considered crimes, even though they may have violated the letter of the law. Crimes committed against the state and socialist ownership were considered more serious than crimes against private persons. Crimes against the state included treason, espionage, terrorism, sabotage, and smuggling. Crimes against socialist ownership included theft, misappropriation, or embezzlement of state property; and intentional or negligent destruction of state property. Other crimes listed in the criminal code included murder; deliberate crippling; mayhem; impairing the health of others; rape; theft; banditry; vagrancy; destruction of state, communal, or individual property; slander; insult; misuse of guardianship; false imprisonment; forgery; hindering people in voting; illegal search of homes; violation of the privacy of correspondence, of labor laws, or of the separation of church and state, or church and school; and interference with religious freedom.

Generally, any crimes committed by military personnel and active-duty reservists were treated as military crimes. Specific military crimes included insubordination, desertion, unwarranted absence or abandonment of a duty station, evading military service through self-mutilation, violations of guard-duty rules, and mistreatment of prisoners of war.

Close attention was given to equal rights for women. According to the 1961 Criminal Code, it was a crime to force a woman to marry or to prevent her marriage, to violate the equal rights of women (for example, by preventing them from studying in a school or working in a state agency or in industry), and to refuse jobs to pregnant women or to mothers.

People sixteen and older were considered legal adults. Those between the ages of fourteen and sixteen were treated as juveniles, except in the most serious cases. Courts were encouraged to apply "compulsory measures of education" rather than criminal penalties to people younger than eighteen who had committed crimes, unless doing so would risk a serious danger to society.

According to the criminal code, punishment was intended to reeducate and correct the offender's behavior rather than to inflict bodily harm or humiliation. If court sentences were reversed, the official responsible for wrongly imposing punishment was liable to criminal court or disciplinary action.

Punishments consisted of confinement in prisons or correctional labor colonies, assignment of correctional tasks without deprivation of freedom, deportation from the country, prohibition from holding public executive or managerial jobs, fines, public reprimands, confiscation of private property, expulsion from one's native aymag, and loss of the right to hold public office. For treason, espionage, public subversion (which covers a variety of antistate crimes), murder, and armed banditry, the death penalty could be imposed. Women were exempt from the death penalty, as were men younger than eighteen or older than sixty.

Prison sentences generally were limited to terms of six months to ten years, but repeated criminal acts could be punished by prison terms as long as fifteen years. Minor theft and embezzlement usually were punished by imprisonment of up to one year, plus eighteen months of correctional tasks to be served at the convicted person's place of work or residence; repeat offenders could receive sentences of one to five years in prison.

Stricter punishments could be imposed on those who misappropriated, plundered, or stole state and public property. They could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison, and repeat offenders could be sentenced to six to fifteen years, in some cases accompanied by full or partial confiscation of property. Stealing private property could be punished by terms of up to five years in jail or by eighteen months of correctional tasks without deprivation of freedom; repeat offenders could receive five to ten years in prison. Robbery with the use or threat of force could be punished by imprisonment for ten years, and repeat offenders could be imprisoned eight to fifteen years. Malicious embezzlement and squandering of state property were punishable by death by a firing squad and confiscation of private property. A sentence of death, ten to fifteen years in prison, or property confiscation was meted out to persons using force in robbery or banditry; misappropriating funds and property, or dissipating them by illegal consumption; abusing their official positions; swindling; extorting; or showing carelessness or negligence in the discharge of official duties. Terms spent in jail awaiting trial counted toward completion of the sentence, and probation was permissible after one to five years in prison had been served. There were statutes of limitation for most crimes, and pardons occasionally were granted. Penalties against violators of public order consisted of warnings, public rebukes, fines, imprisonment, and compulsory labor for five to thirty days.

Last Update: 2010-12-07