What can be said without offending anyone

Abuse report - you can do that


An insult is a defamatory and derogatory expression of opinion about someone and is punishable according to § 185 StGB. Critical and negative opinions are protected by freedom of expression - but when it comes to the degradation and denigration of the other, a limit has been crossed. An insult will result in imprisonment for up to one year or a fine.


At a glance

  • Insults hurt other people's personal honor and are not covered by freedom of expression.
  • If injured parties wish to be prosecuted, a criminal complaint must be filed in addition to the complaint for insult.
  • The public prosecutor often closes proceedings because of a lack of suspicion or low public interest.
  • Insults can result in claims for pain and suffering.
  • Possible penalties in the event of a conviction include: depends on the severity of the offense, the context and the criminal record.


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1. Then a complaint for insult is possible

Example: If person A says to person X: “You are an idiot!”, This is not an appropriate criticism, but an insult that violates X's right to privacy.

An insult is possible in different ways. The following offenses entitle to display:

  • Oral: vulgar terms as well as insults like "idiot", "stupid cow", "wooden head" or "Wichtelmann"
  • Written: z. B. Insults via email, WhatsApp, in social networks
  • Gestural: Pointing middle finger or bird, sticking out tongue, wiper gesture (waving hand in front of face)
  • Pictorial: z. B. defamatory pictures, stickers, signs, caricatures
  • Actually: Spit on, slap the face, push, indecent touching

Also indirect denigrations - e.g. B. "I would love to say A * hole to you now!" - meet the offense of insult and entitle you to report.

An insult does not always have to be directed at the person concerned. The perpetrator can be a person without their presence to third parties offend. Even then, a complaint for insult is possible.

2. When an advertisement is hopeless

Generally speaking, the public prosecutor's office treats a complaint for insult in comparison to other criminal offenses as easy offense. Most of the time, she drops the case because of triviality or little public interest and refers to the possibility of a private lawsuit.

In contrast to a “normal” lawsuit, the complainant then takes on the criminal prosecution in court and has to prove the insult and the need for a conviction.


Ads because of Insult in traffic the authorities usually pursue them with greater effort. There is a greater public interest in preventing dangerous driving maneuvers that are the response to an offense.


In addition, not every rude or degrading statement qualifies as an offense.

The prosecution is likely to be in a prosecution decline in the following cases:

  • Inconvenient Facts: Faced z. For example, if a person tells a colleague that he has unpleasant manners while eating, this may hurt the colleague - factually expressed, this is not an insult.
  • Rudeness: If a person is not a pleasant companion and greets z. B. not turning back or expressing gruffly like "Then do your stuff alone", this is not an offense.
  • Insults within the family: According to the Higher Regional Court, the close family is “insult-free zone” - coarse words are permitted within the family in order to enable emotional and uninhibited discussions in the closest circle (OLG Frankfurt, judgment of January 17, 2019, 16 W 54/18).
  • Private conversation: If a person insults an unwelcome person in conversations with closest confidants (e.g. in close family circle) - e.g. B. a colleague - this is not punishable because the insult was not intended for third parties. In addition, such conversations are protected by privacy.
  • Self talk: If someone accidentally overhears insults uttered during a self-talk, a complaint for insult is not justified. This is because the other's perception was not intended.
  • Collective insult: An insult to a large, non-demarcated group - e.g. B. "All cops are idiots" - is usually not a criminal offense. The statement is so general that no individual is specifically affected by the defamation (1 BvR 2150/14). If the insult occurs demonstratively in the presence of this group, a personal defamation may be given and a complaint for insult is conceivable (1 Ss 329/08).


Is the offended group manageable large, a complaint for insult is possible. Because: the smaller the offended group, the more individual people can feel addressed by the degradation. So it makes a difference whether a person z. B. offended all politicians or just the politicians of a particular cabinet.


  • Defamation: If a person spreads defamatory and deliberately false facts about someone, it is slander. For example, if A lies to a third party that he saw B stealing, a complaint for defamation is possible instead of a complaint for insult.
  • Defamation: A person spreads reputation-damaging facts about someone to third parties - but without knowing whether the facts are true or not. A knows z. B. not exactly whether B is stealing, but claims to others that “B gets rich at the till”. This also includes the passing on of rumors that damage reputation. A complaint for defamation is possible.


Defamatory and false assertions of fact can also legally be considered an insult if they are addressed directly to the person concerned. This is the case, for example, when A accuses someone of “You are stealing from the cash register!” And knows that this is not true.


3. This happens after a complaint for insult


The police only initiate the investigation of a complaint for insult if the injured party also files a criminal complaint. Because: Insult is a so-called application offense according to § 194 StGB and will only be prosecuted at the express request of the injured party.

After reporting and filing a criminal complaint, the police asks the accused to comment on the allegations in writing. If witnesses are given, the police will also question them. The police present the results of the investigation to the public prosecutor's office.

The public prosecutor's office decides on the following on the basis of the investigation file:

  • Terminating the proceeding: If the public prosecutor's office does not see sufficient suspicion, they discontinue the proceedings - for example if there is so little evidence that a conviction by the court is unlikely. Even in the case of first-time offenders and only minor offenses, it can discontinue the proceedings and refer the injured party to private action.
  • Discontinuation of the proceedings subject to conditions: It can also stop the proceedings under certain conditions, for example if the perpetrator pays a sum to a charitable organization or does charitable work - the accused must, however, consent.
  • Filing the application: If there is sufficient suspicion, an interest in prosecution and a conviction by the court is likely, the public prosecutor will bring a public complaint.

If the public prosecutor submits a complaint to the court, the accused is informed and can raise objections to the indictment. The court then decides on the following:

  • Penalty order: In the case of a penalty order, the court only decides on the file and without an oral main hearing about the penalty - this can be a fine or e.g. B. also be a driving ban because of insults in traffic.
  • Main hearing: Both sides can comment on the allegations during the trial. The judge then decides on an acquittal or the sentence.


Only in rare cases (e.g. in the case of repeat offenders with multiple previous convictions for insulting) can direct charges be brought. Otherwise, the main hearing usually only takes place if the accused objects to a penalty order.


These penalties are possible

According to § 185 StGB, a complaint for insult is a Fine or one Imprisonment of up to 1 year possible - in the case of physical insults such as spitting on the victim, up to 2 years are possible. First-time offenders mostly receive fines.

There is no fixed catalog of fines as in road traffic - the court decides for everyone Individual case based on the severity and context of the offense and the criminal's criminal record. The fine is measured in Daily rates and depends on the monthly income.


To calculate a daily rate, the court divides the monthly net income by 30. If the court imposes e.g. B. 10 daily rates with a net income of € 1,500, € 500 are due.


Insulting officials - particularly punishable?

Insulting officials is not a separate criminal offense - the penalty is just as high for a complaint for insulting as it is for a private person. Insults against public officials can, however more often lead to a complaint, as their employers can also request criminal prosecution.

The public prosecutor sees it greater public interest in the prosecution of insults against public servants than in the case of private individuals, since public servants are a professional advocate for the observance of public order.


According to various court rulings, the designation of a police officer as a "cop" is not an insult, as it is now a colloquial synonym for "police officer" (e.g. Az - 3 Ns 134 Js 97458/04). In combination with derogatory gestures or additions such as “pig” or “stupid”, however, a complaint for insulting is possible.


4. Compensation for pain and suffering possible?

With especially serious Violations of personal rights can also be awarded compensation for pain and suffering in the event of long-term psychological damage.

For this, a psychological report must be one considerable psychological strain and prove consequential damage caused by the insult. The court also takes into account how lasting the damage to reputation is and how many people the insult took place in front of.

Practical example: During a service consultation, a supervisor exposed his employee with the windshield wiper gesture in front of the staff. In the period that followed, the employee developed mental health problems and went into early retirement. She was awarded € 1,000 compensation for pain and suffering (OLG Koblenz, Az. 1 U 1161/04).


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5. File a complaint for insult

In order for a complaint for insulting to have criminal consequences for the offender, according to Section 194 of the Criminal Code, the injured party must submit a notification in addition to the complaint Criminal complaint - only then do the authorities initiate criminal prosecution.

You can file the complaint for insult and the necessary criminal complaint at:

  • the local police department
  • the public prosecutor's office
  • the competent local court

The authorities have the appropriate forms ready. The criminal complaint and the charge for insult do not cause any costs.


Do you not know the perpetrator - e.g. B. in the case of an advertisement for insult on the Internet - the advertisement is too against unknown possible. The authorities then try to locate the perpetrator via the IP address and initiate the investigation.


Burden of proof

The burden of proof is yours, i. H. You must be able to prove the insult when you report a complaint. You can e.g. B. Note down the exact wording of the degradation and pick up offensive WhatsApp messages or e-mails.

You can also file a complaint for offense with witnessesthat support your statement make sense. In the case of a complaint for insult without a witness, there is a testimony against testimony - the chances of success may be lower as a result.


The criminal complaint is with a complaint for insult with a Deadline of 3 months to deliver. The period begins as soon as you find out about the insult or the perpetrator.

Example: A received abusive letters on a regular basis 2 years ago. Only now does A find out that B is responsible for it. Although the letters were a long time ago, A can now file a complaint for another 3 months.


6. This is how you can defend yourself in the event of a complaint because of insult

If there is a complaint against you for insult with a criminal complaint, you can exercise your right to remain silent - then you must yourself did not comment on the allegations.

Anything you give to the police can later be used by the authorities against you - even small things can be decisive for further prosecution and a conviction.

To defend yourself effectively against the charge of libel, you can get yourself from one Criminal lawyer be represented. This can ensure that you do not make any mistakes that could negatively affect the outcome of the investigation.

He can also ensure that you have the same level of knowledge as the investigating authorities - because only if you know exactly what the prosecution and investigators are accusing you can you refute the allegations with evidence and witnesses.

Out of court settlement

Since injured parties are allowed to withdraw their application for a criminal offense, you can z. B. try with an apology to come to an out-of-court settlement with the injured party.

A complaint for insult does not have to lead to a court hearing: a criminal lawyer can increase the chances of reaching an agreement with the other side through clever mediation with a settlement proposal.

Opinion on the insult

A lawyer knows what is important when interrogating the accused. By requesting access to the files in criminal proceedings - which is only granted to a lawyer in full - he can gain knowledge of the current state of the investigation and the exact allegations.

He can interpret the content of the investigation files appropriately and arouse doubts about the allegation, evidence or witnesses through a tailored argumentation. If there is no suspicion, the public prosecutor will stop the proceedings early.

Accept or contest the penalty order

Are you innocent or z. If, for example, you do not agree with the amount of the fine, you can object to the penalty order within 2 weeks - it will then be issued court hearing.

An objection must be weighed carefully, as the court can impose a higher sentence than was originally intended. A criminal defense attorney can give you comprehensive advice on your chances of success based on your investigation file. If you would like to lodge an objection, a lawyer can take over the targeted criminal defense in court.


advocado will find the right lawyer for you. He will contact you within 2 hours * for a free initial assessment of your concern.

He can examine your individual case and explain what you can do now. You will then receive an individual fixed price offer with a transparent description of services and a breakdown of costs.

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What does a lawyer cost?

The work of a criminal lawyer triggers legal fees, which depend on the effort involved in the legal work. Searching for witnesses, questioning witnesses or looking at the files also have an impact on the amount of the attorney's fee.

The cost is one Investing in an Effective Defense against allegations of insult - and possibly less than the costs that would arise if convicted in court. In order to determine the process cost risk for your individual case in advance, you can, for example, use a process cost calculator.

If a court acquits you from the accusation of insult, the state treasury or the private plaintiff will assume all legal and court costs.

7. FAQ on complaint for insult
When is there an insult?

If there is a defamatory and derogatory expression of opinion, there is an insult. This is punishable under Section 185 of the Criminal Code. An insult can also exist without the presence of the person concerned (insult to third parties).

What penalties are possible for a complaint for insult?

If someone is lawfully convicted of insulting on the basis of a complaint, they must expect a fine or imprisonment of up to 1 year - up to 2 years are possible in the case of physical insults (e.g. spitting on). First-time offenders usually receive a fine, which is measured in daily rates and depends on the monthly income.

How can I report someone?

If you want to report someone because they have insulted you, you must file a criminal complaint in addition to the complaint so that the law enforcement agency can take action. You can obtain the relevant forms from the police. You have 3 months to file the criminal complaint. The period begins as soon as you find out about the insult or the perpetrator.