"Washing your dirty laundry with the family" takes on its full meaning in the criminal justice system. Apart from the facts of domestic violence, criminal law is not intended to bring order between the members of a family, nor to create a climate of suspicion.

Since antiquity, family immunities have prevented members of a family from bringing complaints against each other or from denouncing themselves in court.

We can therefore steal, swindle, blackmail his parents, his children, his spouse or his grandparents without being criminally prosecuted: this is family immunity (article 311-12 of the penal code).


Taking his parents 'car for a trip, moving half of his grandparents' furniture to put it in at home (or reselling it), or taking money hidden under a mattress… cannot be prosecuted for theft.

A child who blackmailed his dating father ... will not be prosecuted for extortion in court. Just as one cannot force a spouse to confess to a crime committed by his spouse or to testify against him ...

Who is affected by family immunity?

Immunity will work in favor

  • Ascendants: parents, grandparents
  • Descendants: children, grandchildren. Including for adopted, natural or recognized children
  • Spouses who are married, in civil partnership, or living in a notorious cohabitation (for more than a year).


  • Allies: Those who join a family by marriage (mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, etc.)
  • Collateral: between brothers and sisters
  • Members of a family exercising tutorship or curatorship

Namely: Immunity ceases if the spouses are authorized by a court decision to reside separately (legal separation, divorce, etc.), or if the theft relates to documents essential to daily life. These acts will be prosecuted for theft between spouses (article 311-12 paragraph 2 of the penal code).

Regarding foreigners, Law 2012-1560 of December 31, 2012, grants immunity to couples even if they do not live together as well as to brothers and sisters of the foreigner or of the spouse who lives with the foreigner.

Offenses excluded from the repressive field

Immunities prevent any prosecution for acts of:

  • Theft (311-12 of the penal code)
  • Extortion (312-9 paragraph 2 of the penal code)
  • Blackmail (312-12 paragraph 2 of the penal code)
  • Fraudulent (313-3 paragraph 2 of the penal code)
  • Breach of trust (314-4 of the penal code)
  • Assistance with the entry and illegal stay of a foreigner (L.611.22-4 of the CESEDA

Exception to the principle of immunity

The cases where the aggravation is retained for a separate offense.

This is the hypothesis where during the theft, the victim parent (father, child, spouse, etc.) struggles, falls down the stairs and dies by accident. The parent who commits the act will not be prosecuted for the theft, but will be prosecuted for the manslaughter (intentional or involuntary) which followed the theft.

To know: The immunity will only play for the members of the family and not for the accomplices or the co-perpetrators.

Example: If a parent (son or grandson…) receives help from a friend to rob his grandparents' house. This parent will not be prosecuted for theft, but this friend (co-author or accomplice) will be and will be tried alone in court.

The inability to have a parent testify in court

In criminal matters any person having witnessed an offense, or a crime, has the obligation to appear to take an oath to tell the truth and to testify in front of the court under penalty of sanction. (Articles 326 of the Criminal Procedure Code before the Assize Court and 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code before the Correctional Chamber)

But this oath, and therefore the obligation to tell the truth (the whole truth) on the witness stand will not work against the ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, allies, spouses.

To note : In matters of testimony, family immunity is extended to brothers, sisters, allies and spouses even after divorce.

The inability to report a parent to justice

A parent who has knowledge of a crime or misdemeanor committed by a family member is not required to report it to justice, even if an innocent person is involved.

Immunity will also play for

  • Failure to testify even in favor of an innocent person (Art. 434-11 of the penal code)
  • Non-denunciation:
  • Of crimes (Art. 434-1,1 ° of the penal code)

Except in the case of crimes committed on minors under 15 years old

  • Of concealment of criminals (Art. 434-6 of the penal code).

It is the hypothesis where one hides a child, small child, or a husband who has just committed a crime to avoid justice.

To note : In matters of non-denunciation, the family is considered in the narrow sense. Only spouses benefit from immunity, not cohabiting partners, civil partnerships… (Cass. Crim., Of May 25, 2011, n ° 10.86-229 and CEDH Van der Hetjden c / pays bas April 3, 2012 req n ° 428 57/05 ).

This immunity does not prevent a family member from being summoned to a trial to be heard. It is up to him to be silent, or not. The principle is that they cannot be prosecuted if they lie or say nothing (except for terrorist acts), as the law allows for any other witness.

One exception

Law n ° 2016-731 of June 3, 2016 suppressed family immunity for non-denunciation of terrorist crimes or crimes against the interests of the nation.

This makes it possible to prosecute the members of the family of a person suspected or guilty of acts of terrorism. If they withhold information, they risk 5 years in prison and a fine of 75 euros (Article 000-434 of the penal code).

The ban on pronouncing certain sentences to preserve families

Apart from the “infamous” nature, a criminal conviction always has an impact on the family in the event of a fine, confiscation, etc.

To preserve family ties, it will not be possible to pronounce an inadmissibility (definitive or 10 years) for an accused who has a stable family life.

To benefit from it, Articles 8 CEDH and 131-30-2 of the penal code set the criteria in the sense of constant severity.

To benefit from it, you must in particular:

To reside regularly in France for +10 years, not to be polygamous, to have a marital life established for 4 years and prior to the facts prosecuted, the community of life has not ceased (if a divorce procedure is in progress, immunity will not play), the facts must not have been committed against the spouse, the children.

Why monitor criminal law?

If you are interested in the legal world and want to acquire the fundamentals in order to know more about it, it is important to carry out a real watch on criminal law. It can help you in many areas and serve you in many situations. To learn more about the ways in which to carry out this monitoring, do not hesitate to read the following article.

Find reliable sources for your monitoring

The most crucial thing when you decide to carry out a legal watch is to find sources reliable for information. This can be done in different ways and different communication channels can give you good indications. Here is a list:

  • Go to the Bookcases municipal, or that of your place of work, to find books there that will inform you about criminal law;
  • Consult sites Internet specialized in law who will keep you informed of all the latest news in legal law;
  • Talk it over with specialists, lawyers or jurists who must also keep themselves informed of all the changes.

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  1. I am in financial trouble. I ask for my loan money to pay my rent and my phone bill knowing that they will be repaid within the month of financial aid.
    Can I bring a claim against my sister who manages my mother's income without having the title of tutorship or curatorship?

  2. here being a widow and owner of 2 houses, one where I live and the other on vacation, it happens that I have the last of the living and this beach house my daughter often comes to see after the death of my son also I am alone and sick and the eldest son not having seen her for 3 years at the death of his brother and that he did not attend and in it a matter of money comes back to the load and wants to spend holidays in this house and instead of calling the owner who is me he harasses his sister asking her when the house is empty to go there too but he is not addressing me since we are no longer talking and yesterday in mp I put things to the point and my beautiful daughter answered me by insulting me and humiliating me it is dongue and to speak about the death of my son here I will have more to say but already I wanted to know how file a complaint !! thank you

    1. Find an arrangement, your son also has the right to occupy the house, I think, especially if he is in financial difficulty, we do not make a difference between our children

  3. Good morning ! Since criminal prosecution is impossible when the victim is a parent or a child of the accused, what other remedies exist, please?
    I thank you in advance for your answer

  4. Good evening, my sister had my mother write a holograph will in 198 ′ making her beneficiary as well as my little brother, we are a family of 8 children, none of us knew the presence of this will.
    When my mother died in 2020, we learned from the Notary that in the assets of the estate, there was a will in good and due form which had been made by one of my sisters with the help of another of my sisters, she denounced herself, my little brother not even knowing about this will.
    Apart from taking legal action, we have tried to get her to relinquish 25% of the sum she is entitled to besides us, what else can we do? Thank you for your reply. Best regards.

  5. Can we file a complaint against a sister who interferes in my private life and who telephones my husband to say pitiful things so that my couple is destroyed? What recourse can I do?

    1. Hello,
      My dad died almost a year ago and my sister dirties him as much as she can, she sends inflammatory messages to my mom telling her that she was a bad mother that my father was an alcoholic in short it never stops. It had already started when my father was fighting cancer and now that he is no longer there it is going crescendo.
      I need help, we can't take it anymore!!! And the gendarmerie never wanted to take even a handrail...

      1. Hello, I haven't spoken to my mother for 3 years because of family problems, she does not accept my wife. I had a PayPal account with her credit card on it, and I very often place orders for her. She also told me that I can buy things. As soon as we got angry I left the department and stopped doing it's order (in 2019) and according to my sister's words, my mother filed a complaint just after I left for fraud. The police would have counted 5 years of use of her card for a loan of 20 euros, so she was always in agreement. Can justice prosecute me? To know that my mother is now 000 years old and that I am disabled neurological disease operated brain with implants. All this worries me a lot I am both afraid of panic attacks but honestly she counts on me to place orders she knows nothing about computers. Thank you for reading me if anyone knows the laws I would be reassured

    1. He's your son if he steals food from you he's hungry, wouldn't you think of helping him?

      You are his mother, aren't you?

  6. Find an arrangement, your son also has the right to occupy the house, I think, especially if he is in financial difficulty, we do not make a difference between our children

  7. Hello, my mother kicks me out of her house because I refuse to give her money and to repair her car in addition to mine, despite the fact that I already pay her 250€ per month to live at her house and that I paid some of his bills late. She clearly told me to get out so she could get state aid. Recently she searched to find out if I had legal protection. I'm afraid of what she wants to do against me. Her friend already helped her put my brother on the street 1 year ago and filed a complaint against him for assault (it didn't work because it was wrong). I am worried about my situation. What recourse can she take against me without legal protection and why?

  8. Hello I lived with a manipulative narcissistic pervert he took my children from me saying that life was not possible in the housing that they have to buy together under the community regime and he lied to the judge saying that I do not I didn't live with him anymore when I was a cleaning lady he used to beat me and tear my clothes and I live with my sister who is very jealous of me and she tears up my things steals money from me she wants to drive me crazy what to do 2 executioner?

  9. You have the right to live in this accommodation, do 1 procedure for assault and battery, see 1 doctor and 1 removal of the violent husband. Quit your sister who makes you suffer! I wanted by this advice Vs to say that you should not lower arms Good luck!

  10. Hello, I am looking for answers to two fundamental questions, concerning, my related psychic traumas, the explains to me: I am a former state ward, the absence of information concerning the abandonment of the vault of my mother and my little sister , both died in childbirth in 1971, I was 2 years old. By the whole family 11 brothers and sisters, being given, having taken over, contact, with my uncles and aunts on the maternal side, I can no longer find any trace of the false commune, where they would have been put. This remains of paramount importance, and to know to whom belonged or belongs the responsibility, and what should I do, in civil matters. To be able to repair this negligence, thank you cordially for your help. Master

  11. Following a cerebral amyloid angiopathy stroke.. My mother gave me a general family power of attorney to manage everything q is administrative. From her everyday life.. she and my dad gave me the keys to the house, their administrative papers.. unfortunately my dad was hospitalized following a cardiac decomposition, but still in the hospital. My mom filed a complaint against me at the police station for stealing administrative papers and keys!!. What do I have to do ??? to know that my dad asks me to keep their papers and their keys!!!

  12. Hello my 18 year old son has been refusing any parental authority for 4 years already. He is violent and insults us. Does nothing, never helps. Speaks to us very badly and always with an aggressive tone. He doesn't want to pass the license, he's dropping out of school, and doesn't want to work. If we choose to put it outside (a bad thing for a good) what are we risking? Thank you

  13. Following a family argument my big brother took my car which is in my name and he doesn't want to give it back to me, what should I do please?

  14. My mother-in-law discredits me, calls me an intruder in her son's home, and tries to get my son to say things that aren't true.
    can it be called harassment?
    I would point out that my in-laws are narcissistic perverts who are trying to redeem themselves for behavior towards my 6-year-old son. They show him their best face, while for their own children they put them down endlessly. They're crazy, they don't realize the harm they're doing, they're paranoid, they don't know. Would you make handrails, without for the moment going as far as a complaint. Are you in the same case?
    Thank you for answering me.

  15. Hello my aunt to file a complaint against me for a loan that I had asked her and that unfortunately with my wage garnishments I have trouble repaying what I risk please? Can we file a complaint against the family? Thank you all

  16. when my mother died, and while tidying up the accommodation, we found my sister and I envelopes containing cash, a sum of 4500 euros
    part was used to buy flowers and other expenses during his funeral.
    my sister apparently had a small safe and offered me to keep this money that we had to share between my brother, my sister and myself when the estate would be settled, but the latter has been settled since last April and my sister refuses to let me give my share of 1000 euros as well as some jewelry and some furniture, neither she nor my brother answer my emails and the messages left on the answering machine of their telephone they even blocked my mobile number we got along well without seeing each other because of the remoteness of each one, until this painful event and I realize that they were "accomplices and take advantage of the trust I had in them to "steal" me, what should I do to file a complaint? thank you for advising me

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