Period of limitation
The Curia (Supreme Court of Hungary) published an important decision on the interruption of the period of limitation on 9th of June 2015.
Period of limitation is the time of expiry of the criminal responsibility in connection with lapse of time.
Interruption of the period of limitation
The period of limitation shall be interrupted by any and all procedural steps aiming at taking
the criminal case forward whose factual background is identical to that of a criminal offence
on which prosecution was subsequently based, even if the accused person has not yet been
interrogated as a criminal suspect at the time of the implementation of such procedural steps.
The lower instance courts found the seventh accused guilty of two counts of committing, as a
co-perpetrator, the crime of forgery of public documents as defined in section 274, subsection
(1), point c) of Act no. IV of 1978 on the Criminal Code and consequently imposed a total
fine of 360 000,- HUF on him.
Petiton for judicial review
The seventh accused lodged a petition for judicial review with the Curia against the lower
instance decisions. He argued that the period of limitation to commence criminal proceedings
had expired in respect of the criminal act with which he had been charged in point 2 of the
case’s facts, since he had committed the crime of forgery of public documents by entering
false data in a public register on 5 January 2005, while he had been interrogated as a suspect
in that regard only on 2 April 2009. During this period, he was interrogated as a simple
witness on 1 March 2007, but such taking of witness evidence, in his opinion, could not
interrupt the period of limitation to his detriment.
Decision of the Curia
The Curia established that the petition for judicial review was ill-founded. In its view, the
period of limitation shall be interrupted by any and all procedural steps aiming at taking the
criminal case forward on the merit i) whose factual background is identical to that of a
criminal offence on which prosecution was subsequently based or ii) which seek to clarify the
role of a specific person – who later becomes an accused – in contributing to the occurrence
of the aforementioned facts. In the present case, the investigation documents showed that the
procedural steps taken by the investigating authority apart from the interrogation of the
accused as a witness and prior to his interrogation as a suspect had undoubtedly sought to
clarify the criminal acts that could be imputed to him and on which prosecution had been
subsequently based, consequently these procedural steps had interrupted the period of