a)  Hungary / b)  Constitutional Court / c) / d)  15-07-2014 / e)  23/2014 / f)  On the stricter conviction of certain cumulative offenses / g)  Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 2014/95 / h) .
Keywords of the systematic thesaurus:
General Principles - Rule of law.
General Principles - Certainty of the law.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Procedural safeguards, rights of the defence and fair trial - Scope - Criminal proceedings.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Cumulative offense, stricter conviction / Life imprisonment.
The Criminal Code provision that imposes the stricter conviction on three-time offenders found guilty of violent crimes against persons at different times is not in line with the rule of legal certainty and the Fundamental Law.
I. The Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal and the Budapest-Capital Regional Court referred the case to the Constitutional Court. They contested Section 85.4 of the Act IV of 1978 of the Criminal Code (previous Code but in some cases it still applies) and Section 81.4 of the Act C of 2012 of the Criminal Code (Code currently in force). These provisions prescribed the stricter conviction of certain cumulative offenses when the perpetrator committed at least three violent crimes against persons at different times and these crimes were adjudicated in the same proceeding.
In these cases, the upper limit of the applicable punishment for the most serious criminal offense was automatically doubled. If the upper limit of the punishment exceeded twenty years, or if either of the said criminal offenses in the multiple counts carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the perpetrator in question would automatically be sentenced to life imprisonment.
II. The Constitutional Court examined the challenged provision in the context of legal certainty. The underlying condition of the conviction for stricter cumulative offenses is that the crimes shall be adjudicated in the same proceeding. However, this condition depends on the decision of the courts, which take into account expediency viewpoints that are not mandatory. Therefore, the decision of the courts – namely whether the crimes are adjudicated in the same proceeding or not – would result in totally different sentencing in the same cases.
The Constitutional Court declared that the requirement of legal certainty and predictability was violated because the challenged regulations did not ensure the same circumstances for the concerned perpetrators.
The Constitutional Court ruled, moreover, that the provision prescribing the mandatory sentencing of life imprisonment in certain cases was contrary to the Fundamental Law. Following the reasoning of the decision, the concerned provision was contrary to the constitutional criteria of the penal system (within the framework of rule of law as enshrined in ), as the courts were not able to evaluate each criminal offense according to their real emphasis.
The Constitutional Court annulled the unconstitutional provision with retroactive effect as of 1 July 2013.
Furthermore, the Constitutional Court prescribed F pursuant to the Act on the Constitutional Court – the revision of the closed criminal proceedings where the unconstitutional provisions had been applied. The obligatory revision concerns only the sentencing. This does not mean that any of the concerned sentences interrupt automatically or retrial shall be ordered.
Finally, the Constitutional Court emphasised that the subject of its examination was the provisions of stricter conviction of certain cumulative offenses and not the so-called "three-strikes rule" itself.
III. Judges Egon Dienes-Oehm and Béla Pokol attached dissenting opinion to the decision.