During his trip to the Drôme, the President of the Republic was slapped by a man present in the crowd. Very quickly overpowered by the police, he was taken into custody with one of his accomplices.
While the president was traveling in the Drôme, a man grabbed his forearm before slapping him. Immediately seized by bodyguards, the president was pushed aside and the man arrested with one of his accomplices. In the names of Damien and Arthur, the two young people are aged 28-29 and are linked to the movement of “yellow vests”. What are they risking? Is hitting the president an aggravating circumstance?
Crime against lèse-majesté or offense to the president?
What is a slap? Some will cry out to the crime of lese majesté. Appearing under the Roman Republic, this notion is transformed and attenuated into “offense of offense»In the person of the Head of State and included in 1881 in article 26 of the law on freedom of the press. Anyone criticizing or insulting the President of the Republic in writing or in a public speech had to pay a fine of 45,000 euros. Charles de Gaulle was a big consumer of it. In nine years, 350 people, mostly writers and journalists, have been convicted of insulting the president.
The last head of state to have been legally offended is Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, after Hervé Eon, former Socialist General Counsel who moved to the Left Party, brandished a poster on which was written “Casse-toi pov’con», Taking up the famous phrase of the former president. The prosecution then requested a 1000 euros fine, but the court had preferred to opt for a suspended sentence of 30 euros in principle, a choice confirmed on appeal. A court decision that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had criticized, on March 14, 2013, against French magistrates, denouncing a decision “disproportionate“. Five years later, the offense of offense was repealed by the National Assembly, because “if the President of the Republic obviously deserves the respect of his fellow citizens, such a provision derogating from common law no longer appears justified in a modern democracy», Had then judged the parliamentarians, putting an end to several centuries of special law for the Head of State.
Risk of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros
Three years later, what is the risk of the man who slaps the face? “Slapping is not an offense of offense», Explains to Figaro Olivier Beaux, professor of public law at the University of Paris-2 (Panthéon-Assas). For the author of The Insulted Republic, History of offenses against the Head of State of the IIIe at the Ve Republic (editions of the University Press of France, 2019), this offense concerns only words or writings and not gestures. The slap is therefore violence, not followed by days of temporary incapacity for work (ITT), punishable in the Penal Code. According to article R624-1 of the Penal Code, light violence, which is tried before a police court, provides for a fourth-class offense, the amount of which cannot exceed 750 euros.
However, attacking the President of the Republic, as a person holding public authority, is an aggravating circumstance. According to article 222-13 of the Penal Code, “violence resulting in an incapacity for work of less than or equal to eight days or having resulted in no incapacity for work is punished by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros when committed against a person responsible for the public authority“. In addition to the Head of State, these people include gendarmes, magistrates or lawyers.
SEE ALSO – Emmanuel Macron gets slapped while traveling in the Drôme
But could the President of the Republic benefit from an additional aggravating character because of his title compared to another person of authority? “Non, answers the lawyer Olivier Beaux. The head of state is an authority like any other, unlike the offense which was linked to the very person of the president.“He notes that the slap can be likened to a gesture and constitute”contempt of an agent», Another criminal offense. Thus, according to article 434-24 of the Penal Code, a sentence of one year of imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros could be added to the sanction of the slap giver. “It’s interesting to see that we did not consider the possibility that the president could receive a blow, analyzes the law professor. The only precedent is that of Baron Christiani who had hit the bowler hat of President Émile Loubet with a cane, June 4, 1899 ». This royalist had been sentenced to four years in prison.
Finally, if the president had been really injured (more than eight days of sick leave), the authors would have risked at least ten years of imprisonment and a 150,000 euros fine, according to article 222-14-1 of the Code. criminal.
Before Emmanuel Macron, Manuel Valls then campaigning in January 2017, was struck by a young man of 18, during a trip to Laval (Mayenne). The former candidate for the Socialist primary had then lodged a complaint for “violence against a person holding public authority»And the young man sentenced to three months in prison. For his part, Emmanuel Macron had received an egg on his head during his visit to the Agricultural Show on March 1, 2017, a few weeks before being elected president. The perpetrator had not been arrested.
SEE ALSO – Macron: what is the slap the sign of?