Can I appeal against the decision at the trial? Against the sentence?
Yes, you can file an appeal against the judgment of the first instance court if it infringes your rights and you were one of the parties to the proceedings.
You can file an appeal against the finding that you are guilty or only against the sentence, as well as an appeal against the statement of reasons for the judgment.
You can file an appeal against the entire judgment or only part of it, but an appeal against the finding of guilt is considered an appeal against the whole judgment.
How? Who to? What time limits apply?
You must file a motion in writing, within 7 days of the judgement being made, asking for a statement of reasons to be drawn up.
If you are in custody, this period is calculated from the date of delivery of the judgment if you were not present when the judgement was delivered and you do not have a lawyer.
Where minor offences are concerned, you have only 3 days to file the motion.
The statement of reasons should be drafted within 14 days. After you receive the judgment with the statement of reasons you have a further 14 days to file an appeal to a court of appeal through the court that issued the judgment.
If the judgment was given in the first instance by a regional court, an appeal must be drawn up by a professional attorney (advocate).
What are the grounds of appeal?
You can base your appeal on the fact that the law has been broken and/or that procedural rules have not been followed. You may also point out mistakes in the facts of the case as established by the court and appeal against the sentence on the basis that it is either excessively severe or excessively lenient. You may also appeal against other measures which have been imposed with no justification.
What happens if I appeal?
If an appeal is filed, the judgment of the court of first instance cannot be enforced until the appeal court issues its judgment.
What happens if I am in prison when I appeal?
You will not be released just because you have appealed. You can ask the appeal court to order that you should be brought to a hearing, unless the court decides that it is enough simply to have your lawyer present.
If you are not brought before the court and you do not have a private lawyer, a lawyer will be appointed for you by the court.
How long will it be before the appeal is heard?
There is no legal period for an appeal to be heard. If the court agrees to hear the appeal, a hearing will be scheduled and you will be told when and where it will take place.
Can I produce new evidence for the appeal?
In the appeal you can present new facts or evidence, but it is a general rule that the court cannot hear the original evidence again. . An appeal court may however exceptionally allow additional evidence, e.g. hear a new witness or ask for new documents to be presented.
What happens at the appeal hearing?
At the beginning of the hearing, the judge gives a report on the appeal. Afterwards the parties may give their statements, make their arguments and file motions. Finally the court retires for deliberations and announces its judgment.
What can the court decide?
The appeal court may uphold the original judgment, modify it, or quash it and send it back to the original court for a new trial.
A more severe penalty can be imposed on you only if a public prosecutor, or exceptionally the victim has filed an appeal asking for a more severe penalty.
You cannot be sentenced by an appeal court if you have been acquitted by the court which first heard the case. In that event your case must be sent back to the original court for the trial to be held again.
It is a general rule that an appeal court can only review a lower court’s judgment to the extent of the appeal which has been lodged. The scope of the review can only be extended in exceptional circumstances.
What happens if the appeal is successful/unsuccessful?
If your appeal is successful, the appeal court will either modify the previous judgement or quash it and send the case back for a retrial to the court which originally heard the case. If your appeal is not successful, the appeal court will uphold the previous judgment, which will become final and valid.
Is there a right to appeal again to a higher/different court?
You may not appeal against the decision of the appeal court.
If the first decision was wrong, will I get any compensation
You will not get any compensation if the original judgment is found to be wrong.
If my appeal is successful, will a record be kept of the conviction?
If you are found innocent or the proceedings are discontinued no record will be made.
Is a further appeal possible if the first appeal fails?
In exceptional circumstances, when a glaring infringement of the rules of criminal procedure has occurred you may file a special kind of appeal called ‘cassation’ with the Supreme Court.
A cassation appeal has to be filed against the appeal court’s judgment through that appeal court within 30-days of receipt by you of the judgment with the statement of reasons attached. Not all sentences can be subject to cassation.
Also in exceptional circumstances you can file for the proceedings to be re-opened if you have valid reasons for doing so.
When is the conviction final?
It is final when the appeal court announces its decision, unless it orders a re-trial in the court which sentenced you.
I am from another Member State. Can I be sent back there after the trial?
If you were temporarily transferred to Poland under a European Arrest Warrant, in order to take part in criminal proceedings and the country that you were sent from specified that any sentence must be undertaken there and not in Poland, you will be sent back to that country to serve the sentence.
You will be transferred after the judgment becomes final and valid.
- If there is no European Arrest Warrant, you may be transferred to your home country to serve a prison sentence there if the transfer is requested by your home country and a Polish court accepts the request;
- or the Polish Ministry of Justice requests your home country to take you back and the Polish court accepts the transfer.
If I am convicted, can I be tried again for the same crime?
If a judgement convicting you of a specific offence becomes final and valid, generally you cannot be tried again for the same crime. This also means that you cannot be tried again for the same crime in another EU Member State.
Information about the charges and the conviction
Information about charges, convictions and the penalty of arrest imposed under the minor offences code is recorded in the National Criminal Register, held at the Ministry of Justice. Information Points where you can file a request for access to information kept in the Register are located in District and Regional Courts.
You can only be provided with information which directly concerns you. Information can also be provided to Polish and foreign state authorities, specified public institutions and employers.
The conviction and your basic personal details will be entered into the Register after the judgment becomes final and valid. Your consent is not required in order to do this.
How long the information will be held for depends upon the penalty that you receive. After the appropriate time-period expires records are automatically removed from the Register. In certain cases you may file a motion for the criminal record to be removed before the end of the period.
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