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CRIMINAL COURT PROCEEDINGS

It's only natural that taking part in court proceedings can make you feel anxious and that you’ll have a number of questions.

You’ll want to know what is going to happen and what you’re supposed to do.
Here you will find a brief description of the stages in a criminal case.

We’ll try to give you short simple answers to questions such as:
"How do I report a crime?",
"How is the investigation conducted?",
"What happens in court?",
"What is an appeal?"

and many others.

The case may be a long one and there will be a number of participants involved.
You can learn more about them in the section on who is who?

The process described below only applies when the individual who committed the crime is 16 or over. In cases where the crime is committed by a child or young person under the age of 16, a different kind of procedure known as educational guardianship is used.

 
 
CRIMINAL COURT PROCEEDINGS
the crime
A crime is understood as voluntary behaviour (or, in some cases, negligent behaviour) that infringes either the Criminal Code (Código Penal) or other specific laws. The purpose of these laws is
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reporting a crime
Reporting the crime is always the first step. It is only after the complaint has been made that it is possible for the authorities to know that a crime occurred and to launch an investigation.
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The importance of reporting a crime
If you were the victim of a crime, it is very important that you report it to the authorities. If you do so, it is more likely that the person who committed the crime will be caught, held responsible and prevented from doing
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How to report a crime
Each of these authorities has a duty to receive all the complaints and reports made to them, even if the crime was not committed within their territorial area or, in the case of the police forces, if they do not
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The investigation: The inquiry stage
Once the crime is reported or the complaint filed, an inquiry is launched, which starts the investigation. The criminal investigation encompasses all the actions aimed at ascertaining whether there was a crime,
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Forensic exams
Forensic examinations of the victim of a crime are a key part of the legal system. The victim’s body is examined for marks caused by violence used during the crime, such as scratches, redness, wounds, bruising or
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Closing the inquiry stage
Closing the inquiry stage:
charging, closing or provisionally suspending the case.
At the end of the investigation stage
, the criminal police force sends all the evidence
The examination stage
This stage is optional and only takes place when requested by the victim in their role as assistant in the proceedings, or the suspect, because they do not agree with the decision of the Public Prosecutor at the inquiry stage.
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the trial
If the defendant was charged at the end of the inquiry stage or indicted in the examination stage, the case moves on to the trial court.
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Scheduling the trial
After receiving the case file, the judge (who is not the same judge as the examining judge) schedules the trial date and a summons or notice is sent by letter to all the people who have to participate in it.
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Preparing for trial
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious and uncertain before the trial. This is a new situation and one to which you are not accustomed. That's why it is important that you prepare for it.
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What happens if I miss the trial
Do not miss the trial!
Your presence is very important!

Your knowledge about what happened is essential and can be decisive for the judge's decision. Missing the trial will delay the
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Where and when to go
If you received a summons or notice to attend a trial, you must attend on the date and at the place stated.
Do plan your trip to the court in advance by getting information about its exact location
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Who may attend
Trials are almost always open to the public, that is, anyone can go into the courtroom and attend the hearing.
There are a few exceptions, however, such as in cases involving sexual crimes or
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The courtroom
The trial hearing is presided over by the judge. In cases involving more serious crimes, the court is composed of three judges and is called a collective court (a panel court). For some of the more serious
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The victim's role in the trial
He/she cooperates with the Public Prosecutor in producing evidence of the facts described in the indictment and his/her lawyer may, for example, submit evidence, cross-examine the defendant, the witnesses
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The beginning of the trial
The trial may only be postponed in exceptional circumstances, such as the absence of a person whose presence is deemed essential or the need to gather some last-minute evidence.
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The evidence
All the evidence is presented at the trial to the judge and to the other participants to make their experience with the evidence as direct as possible. The defendant is examined and the witnesses questioned
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How does the trial end
After the evidence stage, the judge will ask the defendant some questions about his/her personal, family, professional and financial situation.
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The judgment
The judgment is the decision in the proceedings and includes the facts which the judge considers proven, the unproven facts and the evidence on which it was based. If the defendant is convicted, the
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Appeals
If the defendant, the assistant or the civil parties disagree with the judgment, they can lodge an appeal via their respective lawyers. The Public Prosecutor may also lodge an appeal.
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