I am a non-EU person and a few months earlier, I was accused of a criminal offence of drink and riding a bicycle (the event was only for 2-3 minutes, no one hurt, police caught me immediately). After some days of this charge, I have received a letter stating: if I agree to pay a fine all the legal proceeding against me will be discontinued without any further notification to me. And, there will be neither an entry in the federal central register nor in the registry of fitness to drive. I will be deemed to have no criminal record. I have fulfilled the obligations in a timely fashion.

At present, I am searching for a job and this week I have received a job offer from Finland. So to proceed further, I need to apply for a Finnish visa. In the visa form, there is a section of criminal history and certain questions were asked, for example,

  1. Have you ever been convicted of an offence and sentenced to punishment?
  2. Do you consent to the Finnish migration authorities obtaining a criminal record extract or similar report from foreign authorities?

In my case, I could not able to make up my mind. What should I write in the form? Should I mentioned about the incident of drink and riding a bicycle or not (although in the letter it was mentioned that if I pay the fine then there will be no record against me)?

I will be grateful if anyone can give some information on this.

  • 1
    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo the visa form particularly ask the question that : Have you ever been convicted of an offence and sentenced to punishment? I am thinking: is it okay if I write no. Because the letter that I receive it was mentioned that if I pay the fine then there will be no criminal record against my name. This is my doubt. Should I write yes or no? My logic is if there is no criminal record then I have never been convicted of an offence.
    – Aragorn
    Oct 11, 2020 at 15:28
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo it was also mentioned that if I pay the fine then the procedure against me will be discontinued.
    – Aragorn
    Oct 11, 2020 at 15:37
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    Please use an alias instead of using your original name!!! You certainly do not want this article to pop up in google if someone searches your name along with keywords such as Germany/Finland
    – Max Payne
    Oct 12, 2020 at 5:41
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    @MaxPayne Good advice in general, but if the worst thing about Aragorn that one could find with a google search is that he was once caught riding a bicycle while drunk (and promptly settled the matter with the authorities), he's pretty much fine. One can dig much more dirt on an average person with a facebook account. Oct 12, 2020 at 7:50
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Received letter from police for being drunk and riding bicycle in Germany
    – Uciebila
    Oct 13, 2020 at 12:08

3 Answers 3


Fact 1: You haven’t been convicted. Fact 2: You have been fined. Fact 3: You have committed an offence (that’s what you told us). Fact 4: There is no record in Germany that you were even accused of an offence. Fact 5: You have never been charged of an offence.

You should answer the exact questions that you were asked truthfully. The truthful answer to question 1 is “no”. You took the offer to get rid of the matter by paying a fine, therefore no charge, no conviction, no punishment, no record. Good move on your side.

The second question: If you don’t agree, I bet you won’t get a visa. On the other hand, there will be no record of the matter in Germany so a search will turn up nothing.

(Other countries may ask different questions, like “were you ever charged...” and you would have to answer “yes” if you were charged even if you were later proven innocent. In such a situation lying will most likely give you more trouble than saying the truth. But in your case: You were not charged. ).

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    @nanoman I don't know if German and English law are different, but under English law the OP would have been accused of the offence, but not charged with it. If the OP admits the offence and pays the fixed penalty by the stated time, no charges are ever brought. If the OP does not pay, or wants to dispute the facts of the situation, then a charge will be brought resulting in a court case, and the charge will be formally recorded. (Of course if the OP is then found guilty, the total cost of the fine and court costs will be much higher than the fixed penalty).
    – alephzero
    Oct 12, 2020 at 0:54
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    Most of this answer is wrong. In Germany, accepting a Strafbefehl, as OP obviously has done, carries the same consequences and is equivalent to actually having been sentenced by a court. Oct 12, 2020 at 3:19
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo This answer simply addresses the question as stated. See e.g. "I will be deemed to have no criminal record.", "all the legal proceeding against me will be discontinued". Based on that, this answer is correct. Now, OP may well be wrong to have made those assumptions, but that would be a question (and answer) for law stackexchange. The question more generally can be read as "If I accepted a fine which results in me having no conviction, how should I answer the following question?".
    – JBentley
    Oct 12, 2020 at 10:17
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    @JBentley "If I accepted a fine which results in me having no conviction, how should I answer the following question?" is not what OP asked and definitely not relevant to what has happened. What OP obviously has done is accepting a Strafbefehl, which in layman's terms is more or less a question like "do you accept a conviction with the following penalty without taking the case to court?". Accepting a Strafbefehl has in Germany the same effect as being sentenced to an enforceable conviction from a court. Oct 12, 2020 at 11:20
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    The accusation was according to § 316 Abs. 1 and 2 StGB. But the Staatsanwaltschaft office intended to refrain from filing charges in accordance with section § 153a Abs. 1 StPO, provided I fulfil the mentioned condition. I have fulfilled the obligations, and today, I went to Staatsanwaltschaft office to double-check the matter. They gave me a letter stating the proceeding is discontinued as per § 153a Abs. 1 StPO. So, I believe, now I can write "no" as an answer to the above question with full confidence.
    – Aragorn
    Oct 13, 2020 at 8:46

Depends on the fine print.

German law has something called a Strafbefehl, a non-negotiable, court-approved offer of a plea bargain. One can take it or request a full court case. The Strafbefehl is only possible for a misdemeanor, and differences between a crime and a misdemeanor are problematic when it comes to translations.

It could also be a simple fine for a public order offense, which is not a crime.

  • 2
    The distinction between offenses and crimes in German law is important. Oct 12, 2020 at 9:48
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    It is probably more relevant how Finnish authorities see the situation. If whatever happened in Germany falls into what Finnish law considers to be 'convicted of an offence', the categorization in Germany may not be relevant at all. Oct 12, 2020 at 11:25
  • Finland is not going to have a list of countries and offences in them to reinterpret them according to Finnish law. So it gets blurry when the legal system of another country is very different from the Finnish legal system. Whether or not the punishment is recorded in your criminal record is likely a good rule-of-thumb but if you want absolute certainty, then a lawyer, preferably one that understands both Finnish immigration law and German law, is likely your only option. Oct 14, 2020 at 1:05
  • In Finland it is illegal to drink and drive a bicycle but there is no punishment because there is no limit for blood alcohol in this case. Oct 14, 2020 at 19:19

OK. Literal interpretation. You can truthfully answer no even if you do not intend to pay the fine. You have not been convicted.

But... if you don't pay the fine and you are ever asked again, such as upon entry, you might have to answer yes. So yeah, answer quickly and pay the fine.

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