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Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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Minor offences are the least serious breaches of Polish law and usually concern a violation of some kind of administrative rules of order.

Minor offences carry significantly less serious penalties than crimes and these penalties may be imposed either by court judgments, or administratively through penalty tickets.

A penalty ticket may be imposed on you if you are caught in the course of committing a minor offence or immediately afterwards, if an authorised public official has no doubts about who committed the offence. A fixed penalty ticket may be imposed within 14 days of the offence being committed or exceptionally within 30 days after the event happened.

You are not obliged to accept the penalty ticket. If you choose not to accept it or if the time period for its imposition has lapsed then a court will hear your case. You may appeal against the court’s judgment, but once you have accepted the ticket it is practically almost impossible to appeal against the court’s judgment.

The only possible penalty is a fine which may not exceed 500 zlotys, or in exceptional cases, 1000 zlotys, when you are fined for more than one minor offence.

A penalty ticket may be:

  • paid in cash immediately (this applies to foreigners who do not have a permanent place of residence in Poland);
  • deferred, to be paid within a 7-day period;
  • issued in your absence. Such tickets must be paid within 7 days (do not pay it if you do not want to accept it).

How are minor road traffic offences dealt with?

For speeding, parking etc. the normal rules for minor offences apply – i.e. you may accept a penalty ticket or choose to be heard before a court.

You have to remember that a penalty ticket may be imposed only for a breach of traffic rules. A parking ticket is not a penalty ticket.

Who deals with such offences?

You may be given a penalty ticket related to a violation of traffic rules e.g. by a Police officer or Municipal Guard. If you do not accept the ticket then the district court will hear your case.

What is the procedure?

The same rules apply to foreigners as to polish nationals and the procedure does not differ from the normal procedure for minor offences.

What penalties are possible?

The penalty may vary depending on the type and nature of the minor offence. Mostly these will be various levels of fine. The court may impose any kind of penalty that is admissible in the situation in question, but when it comes to the penalty ticket procedure, then the fine cannot exceed 500 zlotys, exceptionally 1 000 zlotys.

Are such offences pursued against nationals of other Member States?

All foreigners are pursued for traffic violations committed in Poland in the same way as Polish citizens.

The only significant difference is that a foreigner who has no permanent place of residence in Poland will receive a fine that must be paid in cash immediately.

Can I appeal?

If you do not accept a penalty ticket, then you can ask for the case to be considered by the district court. You can appeal the judgement of the district court to a regional court.

If you accept the penalty ticket, then it is practically impossible to appeal to a court. The only possibility is to appeal within 7-days and prove that the type of conduct set out in the ticket does not constitute a minor offence.

Will these offences appear on my criminal record?

When it comes to minor offences your personal information will be recorded in the National Criminal Register only if you have been arrested in connection with the minor offence. No other conviction for a minor offence is recorded.

Last update: 15/02/2012

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