Environmental criminal law

Environmental protection has taken the center stage of public awareness for many years. People have increasingly become conscious of the need to protect the environment. As a result, violations of environmental protection regulations are being reported more frequently and punished more severely.

The criminal code already provides for severe penalties for a number of environment-related offences. In some cases, perpetrators against the environment even face prison terms of up to ten years. In addition, numerous subsidiary laws like provide for penalties if offences related to the environment are detected.

Companies in the pillory

If the police and the public prosecutor’s office investigate a suspected environmental offence, the entire company is often discredited, even before the persons that are actually responsible can be identified. The management finds itself exposed to at least a fine for an administrative offence, and – if not in the pillory themselves – is challenged to get to the bottom of the matter internally. Given the public sensitivity to the issue of the environment, the reputational damage that comes with a violation of environmental criminal law that has become public can be extraordinary.

Accusations against public officials

Criminal law risks also apply to public officials in environmental authorities if, for example, they negligently or even intentionally violate their duties in the context of approval procedures. Of practical relevance here is the failure to act, for example, if unlawfully granted permits for environmentally hazardous installations are not withdrawn or if the authority does not intervene in cases of offences against the environment. Sometimes there are also accusations of accepting unlawful advantages or bribery.

Our work in environmental criminal law starts with compliance-related advice; we point out the risks in environmental criminal law to the management and help them to take appropriate precautions to ensure that risks do not realise. We represent companies and company representatives in investigative and criminal proceedings and, last but not least, take on the defence of accused individuals.

Typical topics:

  • Air pollution
  • Water and soil pollution
  • Improper waste disposal
  • Unauthorised operation of facilities
  • Hazard to areas in need of protection
  • Serious hazards due to the release of toxins


They can count on us:

  • Industrial companies
  • Operators of waste disposal companies
  • Local authorities and their officials