Penal Orders and the Risk of Wrongful Convictions

How to Cite

Enescu, R. (2020). Penal Orders and the Risk of Wrongful Convictions. Bergen Journal of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, 7(2), 3-20.


The expansion of simplified criminal procedures has been important over the last thirty years. While they certainly produce judgments at a reduced cost, recent findings hint at their higher risk of wrongful convictions. This article sheds light on the emergence of penal orders in Germany, first used by the Prussian police as mandate orders. Today, numerous countries apply penal orders to minor offences and impose penalties that have become harsher over time. The procedural shortcuts of penal orders, which made them successful in the first place, entail considerable risks of wrongful convictions. Courts are able to render justice more swiftly, but at what cost? In Germany, convictions are recorded in the Central Criminal Register and exclude convicted persons from work in many fields. This article contends that the procedural shortcuts of penal orders, which allow a preliminary prosecutorial investigation to be rendered as a judicial decision, require additional safeguards to prevent wrongful convictions.

Copyright (c) 2019 Raluca Enescu

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