The Misdemeanour of a Failure to Indicate the Person to whom a Vehicle from the Perspective of the Right to Defence of the Accused

The provision of the Article 96 paragraph 3 of the Polish Petty Offences Code, that penalizes a failure to indicate, upon a demand by a relevant authority, the person to whom a vehicle was entrusted, has been recently analysed by the Constitutional Court of Poland in terms of its compliance with the constitutional right of the accused to defence. Although the Court stated its constitutionality, several of the judges expressed dissenting opinions. The given duty especially seems to infringe the constitutional right to passive defence, that is – to remain silent and not to incriminate oneself, as the owner (holder) of the vehicle is obligated under penalty to reveal who was driving the vehicle in a particular moment. However, when we assume that the owner (holder) must provide information that could incriminate him in anticipated criminal proceedings (or proceedings in petty offence cases) he should be entitled to the right of defence and, in particular, the privilege against self-incrimination.

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