The total penalty in the Polish criminal process is imposed if the perpetrator has committed two or more crimes and the same type of punishment or other punishable sentences have been imposed for them. Combined penalties are:
- penalties of the same type subject to graduation (fine, restrictions of liberty and imprisonment),
- restriction of liberty and imprisonment,
- 25 years imprisonment with other penalties,
- life imprisonment with other penalties
- timely penalty measures of the same kind
The mixed system in force in Poland takes into account the principle of absorption on the one hand, and the principle of cumulation on the other. The total penalty is not only the sum of partial penalties. Combining heterogeneous penalties that can be combined may be particularly problematic. An example here may be a combination of the penalty of restriction of liberty with the penalty of deprivation of liberty. Currently, this matter is regulated by art. 87 of the Penal Code, which introduces two principles. The basic way is to "convert" the restriction of liberty into imprisonment, in such a way that one month's restriction corresponds to 15 days' imprisonment.
The second method refers to a situation in which we face several imprisonment sentences and restrictions on liberty. The court may combine them into sequences of penalties that will be executed in succession. To make this construction possible, the total penalty of imprisonment may not exceed 6 months, and the total penalty of restriction - 2 years. In addition, it should be established that the decision of such a sequence will allow the objectives of the sentence to be met. It should be remembered that this combination of penalties is optional, so even if the conditions are met, the court may apply the first method.
Combining penalties is in principle obligatory, but it experiences certain restrictions and exclusions. Some of them were indicated explicitly in the Penal Code (e.g. Article 85 of the Penal Code - an offense committed after the commencement and before the end of another penalty, Article 89 of the Penal Code - prohibition of imposing a total penalty which would include a penalty legally imposed by a judgment issued in another country European Union), others result from jurisprudence. Such a case is the prohibition of imposing total penalties in relation to substitute penalties. This is the case where, instead of the fine that was not carried out (the execution proved unsuccessful or the circumstances of the case indicate that it would be ineffective) there are imprisonment sentences. Substitute penalties cannot be combined with each other or with basic penalties. Such a position was taken by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 20 February 2006 (reference number IV KK 1/06), stating that "The Penal Code does not provide for the possibility of imposing a total penalty as to substitute penalties, specified in place of the basic penalties for restriction of liberty or a fine ". This view is still valid despite many amendments and changes in the scope of rules for imposing joint penalties, and appeared, among others in the judgment of the Supreme Court of 17 January 2008 (reference number V KK 459/07), the judgment of the Supreme Court of 9 March 2016 (reference number V KK 452/15), the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Szczecin of December 21, 2016 (reference number II AKa 185/16). This jurisprudence seems to be well-established and shared by most representatives of the doctrine.
The Constitutional Tribunal, in its judgment of June 11, 2019, reference number act P 20/17 (Journal of Laws 2019.1135), recognized Art. 87 § 1 to the extent that it imposes on the court an obligation to combine imprisonment and restriction of liberty and to impose a total imprisonment after converting the penalty of restriction of liberty into imprisonment for non-compliance with art. 45 item 1 and art. 175 section 1 of the Polish Constitution.
The Constitutional Tribunal, in its judgment of April 18, 2019, reference number act K 14/17 (Journal of Laws 2019.858), recognized Art. 86 § 4 to the extent that it differentiates the situations of persons to whom the institution of aggregate punishment had previously applied from persons to whom that institution did not apply, in such a way that it enables the lower category of persons to be raised in relation to the first category of persons total penalty, as well as a more severe penalty, i.e. 25 years imprisonment for non-compliance with art. 32 section 1 of the Polish Constitution.
[legal status on 14/05/2020]