In many civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 countries (e.g.: France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 etc.) contravention is a less serious crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, similar to misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 in common law countries. The term is also used in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n law. The act of contravening can be: opposition; obstruction; transgression; violation.

In France

Contravention is, in French law
Law of France
In academic terms, French law can be divided into two main categories: private or judicial law and public law .Judicial law includes, in particular:*civil law ; and*criminal law ....

, an act which violates the law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, a treaty or an agreement which the party has made. It designates a minor infraction only, as opposed to a delict
In civil law, a delict is an intentional or negligent act which gives rise to a legal obligation between parties even though there has been no contract between them. Due to the large number of civil law systems in the world, it is hard to state any generalities about the concept...

 and a crime
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

Any infraction to a law or regulation (enforced by the executive agents of the State), that is not punishable by more than a 3000€ fine for a person, is classed as a contravention.
The fine may also be matched with an additional sentence (peines complémentaires).


Contraventions and their penalties are determined by the executive organs of the French State, unlike délits and crimes which are determined by the legislative organs (Parliament Senate), as per Article 34 of the French Constitution of 1958
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...


The executive organs include:
  • The President of the Republic
  • The government (Cabinet)
  • The local government (prefects of regions and departments)
  • The department and region Councils
  • The police prefect of Paris
  • The town Council and Mayor


As previously stated the maximum fine for an individual is 3000€, and the maximum for a corporation or collectivity is 45,000€.

The additional penalties are defined in the Article 131-10 of the Code Pénal.
They include:
  • Prohibition
    Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

    s (e.g. prohibition of residency
    Permanent residency
    Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status: the person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen. A person with such status is known as a permanent resident....

     in the country (for foreign individuals only), prohibition of civil and family rights)
  • Forfeitures (e.g. loss of the French nationality - extremely rare)
  • Incapacity (e.g. prohibition to take action on one's own property)
  • Retraction
    A retraction is a public statement, by the author of an earlier statement, that withdraws, cancels, refutes, diametrically reverses the original statement or ceases and desists from publishing the original statement...

     of a right (e.g. confiscation of driving licence)
  • Obligation
    An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly...

     to seek treatment (e.g. obligation to prove a medical treatment has been followed)
  • Obligation of action (e.g. obligation to reimburse the victims)
  • Immobilisation or confiscation of an object (e.g. confiscation of weapon
    A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

    s or drugs
    Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows are an American post-hardcore band formed in 2010. They released their debut self-titled album on February 22, 2011.- Formation :...

  • Confiscation
    Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority...

     of an animal (previously considered as objects)
  • Closure of an establishment
  • Obligation to publish the court decision publicly, and since the law n°2004-575 in date of June 21, 2004 obligation to communication the decision to the public by electronic means (internet).

The penalties are determined by the legislative organs: Assemblée Nationale and Sénat, or the government in the cases defined in article 49-3 of the Constitution (attribution of certain legislative rights to the government, in particular cases).
There are 5 classes of contraventions, each having a progressively higher maximum fine.
Classification of the contraventions Seriousness of the offense.
1st class Non public slander and insult
An insult is an expression, statement which is considered degrading and offensive. Insults may be intentional or accidental...

2nd class Involuntary attack on a person's physical integrity having caused no work incapacity (Incapacité totale de travail, ITT)
3rd class Threats of violence
Assault (tort)
In common law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally, that is with either general or specific intent, causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Because assault requires intent, it is considered an intentional tort, as opposed to a tort of negligence...

4th class Light violence
5th class Willful violence having caused an incapacity to work shorter or equal to eight days.
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