Provisional arrest under Polish criminal law

The Polish police have the right to detain a suspected person in provisionally arrest, when there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person has committed a criminal offense and one of the following conditions exist:

  • risk of escape or the risk that the suspected person will hide – i.e. the risk that the suspect attempts to evade criminal proceedings, or,
  • danger of collusions – i.e. the risk that the suspect tries to blur the traces of criminal offense, which would complicate the determination of the truth.

It is important that the assessment of the existence of an escape risk or danger of collusions is being made on the basis of concrete facts. An abstract danger is not sufficient. In addition, the provisional arrest by the Polish police is allowed for the purpose to establish the identity of the suspected person, as well as in the presence of reasons for the implementation of an urgent procedure against the suspected person.

Your rights in case of a provisional arrest in Poland

An arrest by police officers is a very distressing time for the affected, particularly when it comes to an arrest abroad and the arrested has not mastered the Polish language. If the arrest is being conducted at night or in the evening hours, there is a high probability that the affected will remain in police custody at least until the next morning.

It is therefore important to know the rights that the detained is entitled to in accordance with the provisions of the Polish Code of Criminal Procedure:

1. Information on the reasons for the arrest

The person concerned has to be informed immediately after the arrest of the reasons for his arrest, as well as of the granted rights. It is important in this context that the arrested, who has not mastered the Polish language, has the right to request the assistance of an interpreter (free of charge). The affected person has furthermore the right to receive a copy of the protocol drawn up in association with his arrest.

2. Contact a defense lawyer

Particularly important is the right of the arrested to contact a lawyer immediately. The affected should make use of this right before making any substantive statements to the polish investigators.

Please note that in Poland after the arrest there is no possibility of visits of family members or friends at the place of the (pre-trial) detention. This right is only granted to the defense lawyer ordered by the arrested himself or his family. He has the possibility to visit the concerned and discuss with him the situation. The defense lawyer, after an initial conversation with the arrested, makes proposals for the defense strategy and gives notes as to which questions of the investigators can be answered by the arrested.

3. Review of the legality of the arrest

The interested party has the right to request a review of his arrest by the Court. This relates to the legality of the provisional arrest, which means the question, whether the conditions of the Polish Code of Criminal Procedure at the moment of the provisional arrest have been fulfilled. The appeal is to be submitted through the mediation of the body which has made the arrest to the locally competent Court in Poland. Here, the defense attorney after determination of the facts will prepare legal remedies within the term as foreseen by law of 7 days.

4. Duration of the provisional arrest in Poland

The arrested is to be released immediately after the reasons for his arrest are eliminated. It is important to know that the police have 48 hours from the moment of detention to put the arrested at disposal of the competent Court with a corresponding request for arrangement of detention. This however means that the prerequisites of pre-trial detention must apply.

The Court has in turn 24 hours to pass the decision on the use of pre-trial detention to the detained. Thus, the total duration of the provisional arrest in Poland shall not exceed 72 hours.

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