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The rigidity of the time limits in the application of the cumulation of penalties, the main characteristic in the lastest Supreme Court sentences

Two of the lasts Spanish Supreme Court sentences, numbers 7/2022 and 15/2022 of the Criminal Courtroom, argue in the same direction when stablishing the inalienability of the time limit that restricts the possibility to cumulate penalties.

These judicial rulings state that the only penalties that can be cumulated are those imposed for crimes prosecuted in different trails when those criminal acts were committed before the sentence of the first prosecuted crime is delivered, as long as the offences could have been prosecuted jointly according to a time criterion. Both sentences gather old Supreme Court case law, as well as its lasts non jurisdictional agreements, in order to stress that it will only be possible to cumulate the penalties related to those crimes taking place before the existence of the sentence with which the accumulation is pretended. The sentenced person, in this case, will benefit from the time limits stablished in article 76 of the Penal Code, which intends to correct the excesses in the enforcement of the sentence respecting the constitutional rule with regard to rehabilitation and proportionality.

If the time limit didn’t exist, the situation would lead to what the Supreme Court Calls “punitive heritage”: no time limit means that the offenders could commit new crimes and the punishment wouldn’t have a real impact. For that matter, the Second Courtroom highlights in these two new sentences the need to ensure the effective deterrence of penalties as a key element for the interpretation of articles 76 of the CP and 988 of the LECrim.

Lastly, the STS 15/2022 indicates that the court decision regarding the accumulation of penalties can be appealed in ordinary cassation and according to the ordinary cassation regime, as stablished in the reform implemented by the LO 41/2015.

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