Społeczno-wartościujący (normatywny) a deskryptywny charakter strony podmiotowej czynu zabronionego. Kompleksowe a (czysto) normatywne ujęcie winy (na przykładzie regulacji urojenia znamienia kontratypu i znowelizowanego ar t. 28 par . 1 KK z 1997 r.)

Acta Iuris Stetinensis. 2018;21 DOI 10.18276/ais.2018.21-03


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Acta Iuris Stetinensis

ISSN: 2083-4373 (Print); 2545-3181 (Online)

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Szczecińskiego

Society/Institution: Wydział Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Szczecińskiego

LCC Subject Category: Law | Political science: Political institutions and public administration (General)

Country of publisher: Poland

Language of fulltext: English, Polish

Full-text formats available: PDF



Zbigniew Jędrzejewski (Wydział Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 20 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The paper tackles the mutual relation between the essence of a criminal offence (Tatbestand in German) and other elements comprising the structure of a criminal act, i.e. illegality and fault, a matter contentious in the study of criminal law. Special attention is devoted to discussing the character of the relation between the mens rea of an offence and fault. This is related to a postulate often put forward by Polish academic commentators that it is necessary to radically separate these two notions. This view is reflected in the provisions of the 1997 Polish Criminal Code. In line with such an argument are regulations whose subject is error as to the existence of a circumstance excluding illegality (Article 29) and error as to an element of an offence (Article 28 § 1 as amended on 20 February 2015). Underpinning these regulations is the assumption that the elements of mens rea (intention and non-intention) belong to the elements of an offence, however they have no constitutive significance both as regards establishment of illegality of an act as well as the offender’s fault. Intention and non-intention are sharply separated from fault (perceived “purely normatively”). According to this account the totality of elements of a prohibited act (the essence of an act) is of a descriptive character and remains free from any evaluation. The view has been endorsed by H. Welzel, the founder of “finalism” in the German literature, and A. Zoll in Poland. The paper attempts an analysis of the view of H. Welzel following his “ontological swerve” in the 1960s. Denormativization of, inert alia, the concept of intention as an element of an offence, separation thereof from any evaluative context, has led finalists to adopting the so-called strict theory of fault (die strenge Schuldtheorie). The situation is similar as regards the systematics of offences accepted by representatives of the Cracow school of thought (A. Zoll). Error as to the existence of a circumstance excluding unlawfulness does not exclude the illegality of an intentional act and this shall be resolved exclusively by reference to fault (Article 29 of the Polish Criminal Code). Also, the new wording of Article 28 § 1 is a manifestation of the view that mens rea elements of an offence shall be subject to denormativization. The author argues contrary in the paper, contending in favour of a societal-evaluative (normative) account of the essence of an act and intention (intent). This means that, when the object of intention (the offender’s consciousness) is ascertained, of significance are or may be not only “factual circumstances” forming the foundation of the elements of an offence, but also their societal (normative) context and meaning, awareness of social harmfulness), or even, potentially, the legal assessment of an act. To overlook this entire context (intention perceived “naturalistically”) leads to the so-called strict theory of fault. The author maintains that the concept mandating total exclusion of intentional illegality is correct: in cases of error as to the existence of a circumstance excluding unlawfulness the offender objectively wants something legal. At the same time, intention must (also) finds its place alongside fault (comprehensive, psychological-normative theory of fault). Actualization of the elements of an offence triggers a negative assessment both in the realm of illegality and that of fault. For in both realms it performs a “directional” function, therefore the typification of a criminal act shall already encompass elements of fault. The paper argues that direct intention shall be located both within illegality and fault. A comprehensive, hybrid character may also be proven as regards so-called dolus eventualis and non-intention. This is why the author furnishes a critique of the views in support of renouncing comprehensive theories of carelessness and negligence and of the aforementioned amendment to Article 28 § 1 of the Criminal Code. In his estimation, some form of presumption of intentional fault may result from the evaluative character of intention (its function within the realm of fault). Consistent denormativization of the notion of non-intention (previously known as “carelessness”, “negligence”) led Polish academic commentators to the conclusion that the mens rea of “non-intention” is simply “lack of intent”. The new wording of Article 28 § 1 of the Criminal Code, together with certain normative context and its construction (negative formulations of Articles 1 § 2 and 28 § 1, the objectivist interpretation of Article 9 § 2) gives rise to an account unacceptable in the criminal law within a democratic state governed by the rule of law: endorsement of a presumption of non-intentional fault based upon the actualization of the actus reus of a criminal offence. The need to positively establish the possibility of an offender’s foresight by reference to a concrete-individual (subjective) interpretation of the requirement Article 9 § 2 of the Criminal Code (“could have foreseen”) stems from unconscious non-intention’s lack of directional function, and an actualization of the elements of such offence does not induce a negative assessment of the offender’s decision.