Estimated reading time (in minutes)

What is contempt of the flag? Is the national anthem   also affected? What are the sanctions ?


Contempt for the flag is an attack on the symbols of the French Republic. There are two types of offences.
First: the offense of contempt. It is characterized by an attack committed during a demonstration regulated by a public authority vis-à-vis symbols such as the anthem. It can also be a  degradation  of the flag.
Since 2010, there is also the ticket for contempt of the tricolor which only concerns the violation of the flag in a public place. We can also be sanctioned if we degrade the flag in a private place if there is dissemination of images proving this outrage.

What are the sanctions ?

It is the prosecutor who prosecutes the author. It is based on police reports or on the testimony of third parties who can prove it. No one can bring a civil action to obtain compensation for the damage. This is to protect the general interest. For the offense of contempt, we risk a fine of 7500 euros. If the acts are committed in a group, there is also a risk of imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months. Regarding the contravention, the penalty is a fine of 1500 to 3000 euros whether the facts are committed in public or in a private place with the dissemination of images.


A tricolor flag, a national symbol, is set on fire at the gates of a police station in Nice. This indignation is reminiscent of a photo taken as part of a competition organized by a trader. It showed a man wiping his back with a French flag.
If the principle of “freedom of expression” can be invoked, and this licentious photo came to compete in the “Politically incorrect” category, some saw in it only an inadmissible, intolerable act, an obscene outrage, and seized in this capacity of the Council of State.
The question then is whether the “works of the mind” can be affected by disregard for the flag…
The Council of State canceled the decree instituting a fine, and indicates that the regulatory power must “reconcile the guarantee of this freedom with the requirements of PUBLIC ORDER”, when it decides “to enact limits on the freedom of expression”.
Société d’Avocats DAMY , Nice, When is there contempt of the flag?, Update 2022.