The Polish Penal Code, as it was today, was adopted on June 6, 1997 and entered into force on September 1, 1998. Along with it, two codes were adopted and entered into force: the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Executive Penal Code, which regulate how to correctly use the rules in practice. It consists of three parts: general (provisions containing general principles applicable in criminal law), special (provisions containing specific penalties for individual prohibited acts) and military (section on the army and correct behavior of soldiers).
The Criminal Code provides for three types of penalties for prohibited acts. The first of these is the penalty of deprivation of liberty, which is carried out in prisons throughout Poland. The period of this punishment includes the possible time of imprisonment while waiting for the trial. As a rule, foreigners committing an offense in Poland, including in this country, are serving a sentence, although this depends on detailed international agreements. The second possible punishment is the penalty of restriction of liberty, i.e. the commissioning of various additional social works in a strictly specified manner by the court. The third penalty is the usual fine. The Penal Code also introduces the institution of the necessity of compensation by the convict for the victims through his fault. The Act finally eliminates the death penalty that existed in Poland during the peasant period. The highest possible punishment is life imprisonment.
The characteristic features of the Polish Criminal Code are that attempting to commit an offense under the law is punished in exactly the same way as doing the same thing. So if the perpetrator acted with a strong intention, for example, to kill someone, even if due to random circumstances he failed to complete the act, he would be punished as for murder. On the other hand, the Penal Code excludes criminal liability of mentally ill people who could not rationally assess their behavior. The court may, however, direct the person to compulsory therapy in a relevant clinic.
In the Polish system, adulthood is reached at the end of the eighteenth year of life, but criminal responsibility is acquired earlier – after the age of seventeen is judged as an adult. In some cases, the most dangerous to society crimes are judged as adults can be people who have completed their fifteenth year of life. This includes, among others, juveniles who have committed murder or rape. Generally, people under 17 who have broken one of the provisions of the penal code are tried by the relevant court departments and placed in correctional facilities for difficult youth.
The Penal Code was amended for the first time already in 1999, and since then the law has been changed more than 90 times. In this way, people interested in Polish criminal law must constantly monitor the current activities of the Sejm and the Senate in order not to miss subsequent changes. When buying a book version of the code, you should always check when it was released.