After conclusion of the preparatory proceedings, depending on their results, the case can be brought to court. This is the beginning of the judicial stage of the criminal procedure: from then on the court is the "host" of the proceedings, instead of the prosecutor or the police.
If the preparatory proceedings indicate that the suspect has committed a crime, the indictment can be brought to court. In general, this should occur within 14 days (or 7 days if the suspect is temporarily detained) from the conclusion date of investigation or inquiry in the case.
Article 331. § 1. Within 14 days from the conclusion of the investigation or from receiving the indictment drawn up by the police during the inquiry, the prosecutor prepares the indictment or approves the indictment drawn up by the police during the inquiry and brings the indictment to court, or issues an order on discontinuance or suspension of the proceedings, or on a supplementary investigation or inquiry.
The indictment should contain: data of the defendant, a detailed description of the act the defendant is charged with, including time, place, manner and circumstances of committing this act, as well as its consequences (especially when damage occurred as a result of the act). The indictment should be accompanied with a list of evidence requested by the prosecution.
Article 332. § 1. The indictment should contain:
- name and surname of the defendant and other personal data, information about precautionary measures and property collateral applied,
- detailed description of the act the defendant is charged with, including time, place, manner and circumstances of committing this act, as well as its consequences, especially value of damage inflicted,
- indication whether the act has been committed in the circumstances specified in Articles 64 or 65 of the Penal Code, or Article 37 § 1 of the Penal Fiscal Code,
- indication of the Penal Code provisions under which the imputed act can be classified,
- indication of the competent court having jurisdiction over the case, and the mode of the proceedings to be followed,
- information whether the aggrieved party has filed a motion referred to in Article 59a of the Penal Code.
Article 333. § 1. The indictment should also contain a list of evidence requested by the prosecution to be taken during the first-instance hearing, with information for each evidence what circumstances are to be proven, and - if necessary - the manner and order of taking the evidence. The list should be arranged according to types of evidentiary actions and in particular should contain the following separate lists:
- of people whom the prosecutor requests to be summoned to the first-instance hearing,
- documents whose reading, reconstruction or disclosure the prosecutor requests,
- material evidence which should be inspected.
After receiving the indictment, the court designates the date of the first-instance hearing during which the evidence is presented. Generally, the trial is held in the open court (exceptions to this rule are specified in Chapter 42 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) and is conducted orally. At the beginning, the indictment is read out and the supporting evidence is provided: witnesses are heard, experts' opinions are presented. The defendant and the defence counsel are always entitled to express the closing argument.
Selected legal provisions:
Article 365. The hearing is conducted orally.
Article 367. § 1. The presiding judge permits the parties to express themselves on any matter which is to be resolved.
§ 2. If one of the parties expresses oneself in any issue, other parties are also entitled to express their views. The defence counsel and the defendant are entitled to the closing argument.
Article 379. § 1. When the panel of judges enters the room or leaves it, all people present stand up.
§ 2. Any person addressed by the court or addressing the court also stands up, unless he or she is exempted from this obligation by the presiding judge.
Article 381. § 1. The first-instance hearing is commenced with the calling of the case. Then the presiding judge verifies whether all people summoned have appeared and whether there are no impediments to hearing the case.
Article 384. § 1. After checking whether the summoned people have appeared, the presiding judge orders the witnesses to leave the courtroom. Experts remain in the courtroom, unless ordered otherwise by the presiding judge.
§ 2. If the aggrieved person has appeared, he or she can take part in the hearing and can remain in the courtroom even if he or she is supposed to testify as a witness. In such a case, the court hears this person first.
JUDGEMENT AND APPEAL
At the end of this stage of the proceedings, the court evaluates the evidence presented, taking into account the rules of correct reasoning, knowledge and experience, and then delivers the judgement.
Article 410. Judgement can be based solely on the circumstances disclosed during the first-instance hearing.
Certainly, an unfavourable judgement can and ought to be appealed to a higher instance court (a regional court or a court of appeal - depending on whether the first-instance court was respectively a district court or a regional court).
Appeal ought to be lodged within 14 days from the date of service of the first-instance court's judgement with the statement of reasons. However, court of appeal conducts the proceedings in the limited scope - it examines whether in a given case there are grounds specified in the Code to rescind or change the judgement of the first-instance court.
Article 444. § 1. Parties are entitled to appeal against the judgement rendered by the first-instance court, and the aggrieved person is entitled to appeal against the judgement conditionally discontinuing the proceedings, delivered at a sitting, unless the statutes provide otherwise.
Article 445. § 1. The time limit for lodging an appeal is 14 days. For each person entitled to appeal this time limit runs from the date of service of the judgement with the statement of reasons.
[Legal status as at July 2015]