General criminal law determines the general principles concerning offenses, the general conditions of incrimination and the methods of fixing sentences. It fixes the principles of penal responsibility, the causes of irresponsibility as well as the causes of mitigation or aggravation of penalties.
The fundamental principles of criminal law fall under constitutional law. Articles 34 and 37 establish jurisdiction in criminal matters, the legislator having sole jurisdiction to determine the incriminations and penalties for crimes and misdemeanors, while contraventions are the responsibility of the regulatory power. In addition, the fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic and solemnly reaffirmed by the preamble of the Constitution forming part of the constitutionality block which the Constitutional Council since its decision of July 16, 1971 has made a basis for its control, these principles have constitutional value.