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Associative Crimes: A General Analysis

In the legal context, associative crimes pertain to the criminal actions of a group of individuals who come together to form a stable organization with a specific and predetermined common purpose. This article will delve into the key concepts of associative crimes, focusing on when an association for criminal purposes can be recognized, its constitutive elements, and the different types of associative crimes.

Constitutive Elements of Associative Crimes

Associative crimes require the presence of at least three individuals who join together to establish an organization with a specific criminal purpose. This association must have a stable structure, formally distinct from the individuals involved, and capable of realizing the pre-agreed criminal program. The key element is the presence of a stable and enduring bond to carry out criminal activities.

Distinction between Association and Purpose Crimes

It is important to note that being part of a criminal association does not automatically imply criminal liability for the specific crimes committed by members of the association. Membership in the organization is distinct from actively contributing to the commission of a specific crime. Criminal liability for purpose crimes is separate from membership in the criminal association.

Characteristics of Association for Offenses under Article 416 of the Criminal Code

Article 416 of the Italian Criminal Code punishes those who promote, establish, or organize an association with the aim of committing a series of crimes. Even participation in such an association constitutes a crime. This type of association requires the existence of a structural organization, even if rudimentary, composed of people and resources, all functional to the realization of an indeterminate criminal program.

Subjective Element in Associative Crimes

For the configuration of an associative crime, specific intent (mens rea) is required, implying the awareness of actively participating in the association and contributing to its criminal purposes. There must be a manifest intention to be part of a criminal association.

Mafia Association under Article 416-bis of the Criminal Code

Article 416-bis was introduced into the Italian Criminal Code to punish mafia-type associations that may engage in legal activities but become illegal due to their association. This article aims to combat criminal organizations like the mafia, which can influence politics, public administration, and the economy. A mafia association may not necessarily be aimed at the commission of specific crimes but can be punished for illicit activities carried out by the association itself.

Subjective Element in Crimes Related to Drug Trafficking Associations

Article 74 of Presidential Decree No. 309/1990 punishes the promotion, establishment, direction, organization, financing, and participation in associations aimed at the illegal trafficking of narcotics. The offense aims to protect public health and public order. The specific intent (mens rea) required is the awareness of actively participating in the realization of the criminal program, in a stable and permanent manner.

In summary, associative crimes involve joining a criminal organization with a specific common purpose. These crimes can vary based on their constitutive elements and the required subjective element. It is essential to understand that being part of a criminal association can have legal consequences even if one is not directly involved in specific criminal activities. The fight against criminal associations is aimed at preserving public order and society’s security.