On 1 July 2015 an amendment to the Polish Code of Penal Procedure comes into effect. The amendment, among many other changes e.g. the possibility of legal advisers to act as defense attorneys, implements fundamental changes to evidence law.
Prior to the amendment, the doctrine of the fruits of poison tree was not implemented in the Polish Code of Penal Procedure. This meant that evidence obtained as a result of an illegal act was admissible before the Polish courts. For instance, if the police installs a wiretap without a court order and the circumstances did not point to the urgency of the situation, then the recordings obtained could be submitted as valid evidence before the court. The police officer responsible for this situation is, of course, then subject to disciplinary and penal proceedings. The same can be said in the case of private wiretaps and secret recordings of conversations. Not any longer. From 1 July 2015 only legally collected evidence can be presented in the court of law.
The rationale of omitting the doctrine of the fruits of poison tree was that the primary purpose of penal proceedings should be to establish the objective truth. Therefore, any evidence which is not directly prohibited by the Penal Procedure, such as a witness hearing of the defense attorney, should be allowed, even if it was obtained as a result of an illegal act.
As of 1 July 2015, according to the new Article 168a of the Polish Code of Penal Procedure, evidence obtained as a result of a crime or a misdemeanor (as defined in the Polish Penal Code) is inadmissible. This Article covers only evidence, which was obtained directly for the purpose of penal proceedings. As a result of this amendment, the evidence mentioned above (e.g. an illegal wiretap or secret conversation recordings) will no longer be admissible before the Polish courts.
However, it should be noted that this amendment concerns only the penal procedure, and evidence obtained through illegal actions will still be admissible in civil proceedings.
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