Comparative law and justice/Italy

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Map of Italy

Basic Information[edit]

The Italian Flag[2],

Italy is located in southern Europe. Italy is a peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean Sea.The population of Italy is 58,126,212.The age structure of the country is 0-14 year olds make up 13.5% of the population and out of that population 4,056,156 are males and 3,814,070 are females, 15-64 year olds make up 66.3% of the population and out of that 19,530,696 are male and 18,981,084 are females, 65 years and over make up 20.2% of the population and out of that 4,903,762 are male and 6,840,444 are females. The countries that border Italy are Austria, France, The Vatican City, San Marino, Switzerland, and Slovenia. Italy's total landmass is 301,340 square kilometers. The climate in Italy varies in location. Most of the country has a Mediterranean climate, but the north has an Alpine climate and south has a very hot and dry climate.[3] The three most popular cities in Italy are Rome population 2,563,241, Milan population 1,306,661, and Naples population 988,972. [4] The major rivers in Italy are the Po River, the Arno River, and the Tiber River. The key mountain chain in Italy is the Alps which runs along the northern part of the country. [5] Italy is the home of Roman Catholicism and 90% of people in Italy are Roman Catholic. The other 10% of the population are Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish.[6] The key ethnic groups in Italy are the Italians(96%), North African Arab(0.9%), Italo-Albanian(0.8%), Albanian(0.5%), German(0.4%), Austrian(0.4%), and Italo-Greek, French and other(1%).[7] Most of the people living in Italy are born in Italy and the other groups migrate to Italy. The official language of Italy is Italian, but people also speak French, German, and Slovene in Italy. Most people do speak Italian, its just in certain regions they speak these other languages.[8]

Brief History[edit]

Italy has a very important history that dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries BC. Ancient Rome started out as a small farming area, but soon became the center of the Roman Empire because of its location on the Mediterranean Sea. Italy battled for 13 centuries with Germanic tribes to become a nation-state. In the 15th and 16th centuries Italy was the home of The Renaissance. The Renaissance is a famous time in history where the arts became very famous. Painting, poetry, and sculptures in Italy were the center of art in the world. Most of the artwork still remains and is still very famous throughout the world. In the 17th through 19th centuries Italy was dominated by foreign nations. Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states, with Sardinia and Sicily were brought together under King Emmanuel II. Italy was a country that believed in a parliament government until 1920 when Benito Mussolini created a dictatorship in the country. He allied himself with Nazi Germany and this lead to Italy's defeat in World War II. In 1946 Italy became a democracy and the country has done better since. The country is a member of NATO and the European Economic Community. There have been many historical problems such as organized crime, corruption, illegal immigration, and high unemployment.[9]

Economic Development, Health, and Education[edit]

Italy's economy is an industrial economy. In the north there is a developed industrial economy, but in the South there is a less-developed economy that battles with a high unemployment rate. Italy deal with a lot of high-quality consumer goods that are produced by small and medium sized companies that are for the majority part, family owned. Italy also has a big underground economy that consists of agriculture, construction, and service sectors. This underground economy accounts for 15% of the GDP. Italy has implemented a number of programs for their citizens. They have brought structural reforms, like reducing graft, getting rid of costly entitlement programs, and increasing employment opportunities for young people, particularly women. The government of Italy has struggled to limit its spending and this has gotten Italy into lots of debt. In 2009 Italy implemented a tax amnesty program to repatriate untaxed assets that are held in other countries and it brought the government $135 billion. The GDP of Italy is $1.739 trillion. The GDP per capita is $29,900. The key industries in Italy are tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, and ceramics. Key imports are engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing, and food, beverages, and tobacco. Key exports are engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport, equipment, chemicals, food, beverages, tobacco, minerals, and nonferrous metals. The infant mortality rate of Italy is 5.51 deaths/1,000 live births. The life expectancy of males is 77.26 years and the life expectancy of females is 83.33 years. The literacy rate of the country is 98.8%. Males have a literacy rate of 98.8% and females have a literacy rate of 98%. The average educational attainment is 16 years of education for males and 17 years of education for females.[10]


Italy is a democratic republic. Italy has a Constitution that was passed on December 11, 1947. The Constitution has been amended 13 times. The Constitution was being drafted around the same time as the abolition of the monarchy. The Italian government is organized by branches. There is the executive branch which is made up of the president, prime minister, and the cabinet. There is the legislative branch which is made up of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Then there is the judicial branch and that is made up of the Constitutional Court. Italy was a fascist country from 1922-1945 and that was because of Benito Mussolini. After World War II Italy changed their government to a republic. This happened on June 2, 1946. [11] Laws can be made in Italy by the legislative branch. The people of Italy can create a law by way of proposal. Most laws are made by both houses of the legislative branch. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies must review the laws and then the laws get passed on to the president for approval. [12]


President Giorgio Napolitano [13]

The government officials are elected differently. The president is elected by the electoral college system made up of both houses of parliament and fifty-eight regional representatives. The president is elected to a seven year term. The President of Italy today is Giorgio Napolitano. He was elected in 2007. The president nominates a prime minister and he must be confirmed by parliament. Italy has a bicameral parliament consisting of a Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The members of the Senate are elected by proportional vote with the winning coalition in every region receiving 55% of the seat from that region. The members of the Senate serve five year terms and up to five senators can be appointed for life. The members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected by a popular vote with the winning national coalition earning 54% of chamber seats. The members of the Chamber of Deputies serve five-year terms. The Senate has 315 seats and the Chamber of Deputies has 630 seats.[14]. The elections in Italy are conducted under a proportional representation electoral system. To vote in the Chamber of Deputies election people must be 18 years old and to vote in the Senate election you must be 25 years old. The age requirement for holding the presidency in Italy is 50 years old. The requirement for members of the Senate is 40 and the requirement for the Chamber of Deputies is 25. People are not required to vote in Italy it is their right as citizens to decide whether they want to or do not want to. [15].

Judicial Review[edit]

There is some judicial review in Italy. There is partial judicial review of the legislation. The Constitutional Court can review laws that deal with human rights. The court can reject anti-constitutional laws if they feel the need to. The Constitutional Court is the only court that has the power to reject laws in Italy [16]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]

The criminal law system in Italy is designed for deterrence. The police are responsible for preliminary investigation of alleged offenses and detection of the criminals. The police are also responsible for gathering evidence. The defense counsel has the right to be present when their client is being interviewed by police. The defense counsel must be present at any interrogation. The police have the right to hold a suspect for two days. The judicial process begins with a judicial investigation. In a case where the evidence is very clear and the suspect has admitted guilt, then the investigation is done by a magistrate of the prosecutor's office. If the evidence is not really clear then there will be an investigating judge who goes out and conducts the investigation on his own. The judge has thirty days to make a decision in cases involving less-serious crimes and they have a year and a half to make a decision involving serious crimes. If a suspect is found guilty they have the ability to appeal the decision. The Italian criminal law system is a mix of the inquisitorial and adversarial systems. The adversarial part of the criminal law system is the idea of an appeal after the original ruling. The inquisitorial system is the main system used. The trial process is more about finding the truth. The judge actually goes out and investigates the case and makes his decision based upon that. [17]

Italy is a country who has a history of corruption in its governments, but with the decline of organized crime in Italy the corruption level has declined. Italy ranked 40th out of 159 that were measured in 2005. [18]. The Italian military work together with the Italian police forces to try to prevent crime. The Carbinieri and the Guardia di Finanza are parts of the Italian Army, but are also police forces.


The types of sanctions that Italy uses are imprisonment, fines, probation, house arrest, and semi-custody.[19] All crimes in Italy are divided into two categories, delitti which are the serious crimes, and contravvenzioni which are less serious crimes.[20] The minimum age for crime responsibility is 14. For murder, a person is imprisoned for a period not less than 21 years. For robbery, a person is placed in prison for 3-10 years and fined. For theft, a person is placed in prison for up to three years and faces a big fine. For assault, a person is placed in prison from 3 months to 3 years. The country uses fines along with imprisonment as a form of punishment. The fines differ in every crime that is committed. Italy does not use corporal or capital punishment. [21] The imprisonment rates in Italy are 100 people per 100,000 people. [22] The prison conditions in Italy are actually really good. The inmates get to do a variety of things. Some prisoners are able to get out early due to good behavior. Italy tries to emphasize rehabilitation in their prison system. The convicts do education work, play sports, work, participate in religious activities, and are encouraged to keep in contact with friends and family. [23] There are 27 male prisons and only 2 female prisons which show that there are some gender disparities.[24] There is a juvenile justice system that deals with juveniles up to the age of 18. The juvenile court consists of two stipendiary judges and two judges who are psychologists or experts in juvenile crime. [25] Juveniles could be prosecuted in the adult court based on the severity of the crime. [26]

Legal Personnel[edit]

The Italian court system is a very complex system. It is made up of three separate courts. The lower courts have three branches. There is the Justice of the Peace, the Tribunale Court, and the Corte d'Assise. Each court has their own specific jurisdiction and each leads into their own separate appeal process. The Justice of the Peace court deals with petty offenses like slander or libel. There is one honorary judge in this court and if you are convicted you can appeal your sentence to the Tribunale Monocratico which has one judge. The Tribunale Court has three judges and they decide cases that fall between the crimes listed in the Justice of the Peace court and the Corte d'Assise. If you are convicted in the Tribuanle court you can appeal your case to the Court of Appeals which has three professional judges. The Corte d'Assise deals with only serious crimes such as murder or terrorism. The Corte d'Assise has two professional judges and six lay judges. If you are convicted in this court you can appeal your case to the Corte d'Assise d'Appello [27]. There is another court in Italy that has the most power and that is the Court of Cassation. This court functions like a supreme court and this court is arranged in divisions that each have a president and a deputy. These courts typically are composed of five judges, but could use nine in certain cases. [28]. The final court in Italy is the Constitutional Court of Italy which is also a supreme court. This court is made up of 15 judges and it deals with the constitutionality of laws.[29] In the court process there is a prosecutor, a defendant, and a judge or judges. The defendant can be called to the stand but does not have to testify against themselves or even tell the truth because they are not under oath. There is no jury in the Italian court, so it is up to the judge or judges to decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. The prosecutor's role is to gather evidence to try to find the truth about what happened. The prosecutor also does the interrogations of the suspects. Italy's judges are trained professionals and they are the ones who decide whether the person is guilty or innocent. The judges must hold a Masters of law degree. They are selected through public national competitions and train under an experienced judge. [30] The only judges that are appointed are the judges in the Constitutional Court. Those judges are appointed by the President, Parliament, and other judges. [31] Lawyers in Italy are trained in law school and must hold a degree in law to practice in Italy. The accused person comes into the trial and is viewed as not being guilty. [32] Italy uses punitive damages in civil lawsuits. In dealing with civil matters the court uses justices of the peace, judges, tribunals, appeal courts, and the supreme court. [33]

Law Enforcement[edit]

The Italian Carabinieri [34]

Italy is a country that uses a centralized, multiple uncoordinated police structure. There are many different types of divisions of law enforcement in Italy. There are the Carabinieri, which is a form of military police who has police duties. There is the Guardia di Finanza who are in charge of economic, financial, judiciary, and public safety. Next there is the Polizia di Stato, which is a civilian police force. Also, there is the Polizia Penitenziaria who are in charge of the Italian prisons. Next, there is the Corpo Forestale dello Stato who are responsible of national parks and forests. There is the Coast Guard who are the law enforcement on the sea. Italy also has provincial police who operate in 109 provinces and mainly enforce laws regarding hunting and fishing. Lastly, there is a municipal police who work in each commune to enforce traffic laws and local regulations.[35]. The Carabinieri trains officers by the following ways. If an officer wants to be a Military Academy candidate they must go through a two year training process and then a year of law school. If you want to be a reserve or a warrant officer you must go through a one year training program. There is also a technical logistic role in the Carbinieri which requires a one year training program. In the Carbinieri training school the school looks to provide officers with a basic military, technical profession. The school also uses a shooting training program and a field training program.[36] The Guardia di Finanza has a separate training school. There are two year and three year courses in the academy. The training academy deals with functions that the officer is expected to fulfill on the job. There is also an athletic training program. The officers are selected upon how they do in the academy.[37] The Polizia di Stato are trained at a college called the Interagency College Of Advanced Studies For Law Enforcement Officials.[38].

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

Italy is a country that uses a civil law system as their family of law. Crime in Italy varies from area to area. The total crime victims are 24.6% When people think of Italy they usually think of the mafia and organized crime. The mafia was prevalent at times, but today there really is not too much organized crime in Italy and if there is the organized crime does not involve violent crime. Italy has a very low rate of violent crime. Italy's crime rate is very similar to the other countries in Europe.[39] The most typical crimes in Italy are car theft, burglaries, robberies, and fraud. The reported homicide rate is 1.06 per 100,000 people. The reported rate of robbery in Italy is 0.649295 per 1,000 people. The reported rape rate is 0.0402045 per 1,000 people. The reported assault rate is 0.500284 per 1,000 people. [40] The problem with reporting in Italy is under reporting, people are scared to report some crime and have to deal with consequences. This happened a lot more in earlier years because of the mafia, but it is still a problem today. You can get the information about crime in Italy through the International Crime Victimization Surveys. Nowadays people feel very safe in Italy. Violent crime rates are very low. The mafia has been pushed out of most of the country and people really do not have to worry about them anymore. The crime that typically occurs happens to tourists mostly. People try to take advantage of the tourists and steal their belongings and cars. Crime in rural areas is very scarce, it is the cities where most of the crime takes place.[41] Italy is one of the safest countries in the world and the Italian people are very proud of that.


Family Law[edit]

In order to get married in Italy the couple must appear in front of a civil registrar in the town that they will be married in with two witnesses. They must present their birth certificate, passport, and a divorce/death certificate if they were married previously. If the couple is under 18 they must have their parents consent. Divorce in Italy started in 1970. A person may be divorced in Italy if they were married there or if you are Italian or a resident of the country. Divorce in Italy is a very confusing matter. A couple that is divorcing with consent must wait three years to be divorced. Couples not divorcing by consent must wait five years after fault has been proved. Divorce by consent does not cost much money, but divorce without consent may cost thousands of Euros. The couple must go in front of a judge who offers them a choice of reconciliation or separation. The financial matters are also dealt with in the court. The mother is usually awarded custody of the children. The father still has access to the children. At a certain age the children can pick who they want to live with. [42]. Adoption in Italy is very common. In 2006 3,158 children were adopted. The prospective parents must go through assessment and evaluation to see if they are able to adopt. Adopters must be married or living together for three years in order to be able to adopt. There are age restrictions on the parents who adopt and the children they are adopting. Single parents and gay people are not allowed to adopt in Italy. Everyone in Italy is allowed to be married except same-sex couples.[43] Everyone in Italy is treated by the legal system equally. Juveniles have their own court system. Anyone over eighteen falls into the adult court. Everyone living in Italy has citizenship rights. If you are born in Italy you are able to be a citizen. If one of your parents is Italian you are and Italian citizen. [44] In Italy there are certain laws the are used in the case of inheritance. There are three main ways to decide inheritance. They are legal succession, testamentary succession, and succession by necessity. Legal succession is when the deceased person does not leave a will. His property will be given to their children or relatives. Testamentary succession is when the deceased leaves a will and the distribution of assets is sorted out by what the will states. Succession by necessity is the misappropriation by the deceased. The law states that successors can gain a share of property even if they were not mentioned in the will. [45]

Human Rights[edit]

The Italian Constitution [46]

In the Italian Constitution there are 47 different articles that have to deal with human rights. These articles list certain rights that are protected by the state. Some of the rights that they include are the right to assembly, freedom of the press, the right to no cruel and unusual punishment, the right to freedom, and the right to privacy in the home. These are just a few of the rights that are listed in the Constitution, but there are many more. In Italy everyone is considered equal. There is no discrimination against anyone and people are treated equally by the law. Everyone is able to do what they want as long as they are not breaking the law. There is no discrimination in schools or the work force. The Constitution of Italy lays down the fundamental rights of all human beings in the Republic of Italy. [47]

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