The trial will be held in the court which has jurisdiction over the district where the crime was committed.
In principle the district court tries the case in the first instance. Felonies and serious misdemeanours are tried in the regional court.
Generally the trial will be open to the public. The judgement is always given in public in open court.
The case will be decided by a professional judge. In some cases in the first instance, the court may also consist of lay judges, who have the same rights as the judge. Polish law does not provide for trial by jury.
Yes, they can. If the legal classification of the charge needs to be changed, the court will inform the parties present at the trial. The description of the offence remains unchanged.
If this happens, you may apply to the court for the case to be adjourned to give you additional time to prepare a new line of defence.
The court may try any new charges at the same session only if you agree. Otherwise, the prosecutor has to file another indictment.
What happens if I plead guilty to some or all of the charges during the trial?
If the guilty plea is accepted by the court, it is possible to limit the evidence heard by the court.
In principle you must be present at all the court sessions throughout the trial. However after you have made your explanatory statements, the court may decide whether your presence is still required.
Only witnesses and expert witnesses may give evidence by video link. It may not be used to hear suspects and the accused.
You have the right have the services of an interpreter free of charge and to receive translation of all records, decisions and judgments.
Must I have a lawyer? Will a lawyer be allocated to me? Can I change my lawyer?
It is not mandatory to have the assistance of a professional lawyer
However if you are a minor, deaf, mute, blind, there are reasonable doubts as to your sanity, the trial is being held before a regional court and you are charged with a felony or you are in custody – the participation of a lawyer is mandatory. You must also be assisted by a defence lawyer if the court deems it necessary because of circumstances hampering the defence.
If you don’t choose a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. You may ask that a lawyer be appointed for you if you can show that you cannot afford to pay the costs of the defence without affecting your ability to support yourself and your family.
Some activities in the criminal proceedings require an appropriately qualified lawyer (advocate) e.g. filing an appeal against a regional court judgment or cassation (extraordinary appeal).
You have the right to make statements and express your opinion about every piece of evidence taken in your presence about every piece of evidence against you. However you may refuse to make any statement and remain silent. You may not be forced to incriminate yourself.
There are no negative consequences if you give false statements.
You may not however incriminate others groundlessly.
You have the right to present your own evidence and challenge the evidence against you.
Information about the alleged offence may be collected within the framework of the evidentiary proceedings.
The Code provides for e.g. hearing witnesses, statements given by the accused, expert witnesses, confrontation of persons heard, visual inspection of the crime scene or people or objects, autopsy, crime scene reconstruction or other experiment, interviewing members of the local community examination of the accused, detainee, seizure of objects, search of premises, interception and recording of calls, etc.
You have to file a motion in writing or orally that the evidence should be allowed and this must be included in the record of the trial or session (e.g. a motion to obtain a statement from a witness concerning the fact that you were in another town at the moment the crime was committed).
Yes, but in principle any private documents produced solely for the sake of the criminal trial by a private detective may not be used as evidence in court.
Yes, but if they conceal any information or do not tell the truth, the witness may be charged with an offence.
Can I or my lawyer ask questions of the other witnesses in the case? Can I or my lawyer challenge what they say?
Yes, witnesses may be questioned fully. You may challenge the evidence given by others by means of any admissible evidence and statements.
Yes, previous sentences will be considered as well as the legal nature of any previous convictions, when deciding on a penalty. Information which is recorded in the National Criminal Register and which concerns a final and valid judgment will be considered.
Will previous convictions in another Member State be taken into account?
Yes, courts and prosecutors’ offices may ask for excerpts from the criminal registers of other Member States. This information will also be used to ensure that you are not sentenced for the same offence twice.
The parties deliver their final speeches. You and your lawyer will also be able to address the court. The accused speaks last.
After hearing those speeches the court retires to decide on its judgment.
The possible outcomes are:
In addition to the basic penalties, the court may impose other penal measures:
In the Polish criminal proceedings the victim is called the injured person.
The victim may file a motion requesting damages from the accused and they may participate in the trial.
If the victim chooses to participate in the trial, s/he becomes a subsidiary prosecutor and acts alongside the prosecutor. S/he may, among other things, commence the proceedings by filing an indictment. S/he may also file an appeal.
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