Hit and run, public servants and the sentence of Uli Hoeneß

Source: ZEIT Online, License CC-BY-ND

The trial of Uli Hoeneß has made many waves. ZEIT ONLINE recently wrote that the sentence was relatively high and showed the accompanying graph. Compared to what the prosecution had demanded, the judge's verdict is still relatively lenient, but nevertheless the length of the sentence is still above the average length for rape, robbery or extortion.

It is also interesting to note the reaction that the trial has provoked in society: Many cheered the verdict, presumably doing so less out of ethical concerns than out of resentment. "Someone has something we don't have, and now he should pay for doing something we would never do!" So many agreed with the high sentence, but at the same time the question was raised: why is a manslaughterer punished for a shorter time than someone who "only" evaded taxes? Where is the proportionality there?

When I studied law, there was a moment when I was very perplexed. Until the penny dropped and I understood how the German criminal laws actually tick.

It was about the hit and run issue: If I scrape another car and its driver is not around, is it enough to stick my business card behind the windshield wiper? Why do I have to be on the scene until the police arrive? Can't I just memorize the license plate number and find out who the driver is so I can compensate him for his damage?

What is actually the reason, I asked myself, why hit-and-run is punishable? Or in legalese: What is the protected legal interest here? Spontaneously, one would certainly think: The person who was harmed must be protected. If you think like that, it's okay to stick a business card under the windshield wiper.

But far from it! The protected legal interest here is not the injured party, who gets a new car door, but it is the punitive claim of the state! The state does not care here whether the other motorist has suffered a damage, it concerns it rather to be able to enforce its punishment claim. Therefore it is in the eye of the state a delikt, if I remove myself. Not because the injured party then does not get his money but because I make it more difficult or impossible for the state to punish me!

And so we still live in the old Prussia, in the thinking of the authorities, and we see that here, too, in the Hoeneß case. He didn't take something from the citizen, but from the state, and the state doesn't want to put up with that!

A tax professor once said, "Tax evasion should not be punishable as long as tax waste is not." And indeed, taxes are wasted to a great extent, but no one at the controls cares. So it's not about the money itself!

Hoeneß (and others) are not being punished for withholding money from the state, but for disobeying the state.

In Switzerland, for example, things are different. The question is: Have the citizens, the common good, been harmed? And the punishment is assessed accordingly. In Germany, we still have a bit of work to do. There are hardly any people-servants, there are only state-servants, and we are all supposed to be state-servants, to the point that evil tongues claim that Germany has a personal ID card instead of an ID card, because we are all still personnel and belong to the "king.

Previous post
Paradigm shift 2014
Next post
Poverty, Pride, Humility, or: The Art of Living in Real Freedom