Abbreviated procedure


The abbreviated procedure is a specific type of judicial process within the criminal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed that are assigned a sentence of less than 9 years.

This procedure is the alternative to the usual procedure followed by the prosecutions of crimes known as ordinary trial. The purpose of this procedure is to expedite the judicial process to satisfy the general interest and not to overwhelm the courts.

By this type of procedure, not all types of crimes can be prosecuted, but only those where the associated penalty, whether in the form of deprivation of liberty or a fine or security measure, is less than 9 years.Murders, for example, cannot be prosecuted under the abbreviated procedure.

Depending on the country, this procedure has different procedural requirements and phases. But in all procedural codes it coincides in being a faster procedure and simplifying the investigation phase of the ordinary procedure. Likewise, this procedure in all procedural codes is intended for certain crimes.

Features of the abbreviated procedure

The main characteristics of the abbreviated procedure are:

  • It is an agile, fast and common procedure in criminal courts for this type of crime. It even involves the elimination of some compulsory procedures in ordinary criminal trials.
  • It is faster than ordinary criminal trials because its instruction is reduced to a minimum, but this does not compromise the guarantees of the accused.
  • If the crime prosecuted is associated with a sentence of less than two years, the trial may be held without the presence of the accused.
  • Statements or reports will not be necessary except that the instructor of the criminal case so requests. For example, if there is no doubt about the identity of the accused, it is not necessary to provide the birth certificate, which entails reducing time in bureaucracy.
  • The knowledge of the criminal case for this type of procedure will be competent by virtue of the seriousness of the penalty and not of the crime. However, the severity of the penalty usually increases according to the severity of the crime.
  • The sentence can be handed down by the judge verbally.
  • They increase the powers of the judicial police and the Public Prosecutor's Office to the detriment of the powers of the judge.
  • The defendant's lawyer must attend to his client in all phases of this procedure.
  • Not only is the Provincial Court the competent body to prosecute these crimes, but if the crimes have associated penalties of less than 5 years, the Criminal Courts may be competent.
  • If during the preliminary proceedings it is observed that the penalty of the crime is greater than 9 years, it can become an ordinary procedure.

Phases of the procedure

To know how this procedure works, we must understand what its phases are:

  1. Beginning of the abbreviated procedure: By complaint of criminal acts or ex officio.
  2. Preliminary proceedings: This is the investigation phase. Like any investigation phase, this procedure has the purpose of investigating the facts, their nature and possible classification and delimiting the accusation. In this phase, precautionary measures and various investigation procedures may be agreed.
  3. Intermediate phase: Once the instruction is finished, three scenarios can happen:
    1. Dismissal of the case: There is not enough evidence to go ahead with the oral trial.
    2. Compliance: The oral trial is not followed.
    3. Go to oral trial.
  4. Oral trial: The parties go with their legal defense before the judge for the hearing to be held.
  5. Sentence: Once the oral trial is finished, a conviction or acquittal will be issued by the judge. The judge can dictate the sentence in the same trial at the end.

Differences between the abbreviated procedure and the ordinary procedure

The main differences are:

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