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Structure of a Criminal Process in Spain

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Criminal proceedings (particularly the so called "procedimientos abreviados", the ones for crimes punishable by imprisonment of up to nine years) in the Spanish legal system respond to a very basic structure:

  • the preliminary investigation or proceedings phase (diligencias previas)

  • the intermediate phase (fase intermedia) and

  • the oral trial phase (enjuiciamiento o juicio oral)

A first phase of preparatory instruction that the L.E.Cr. (Spanish Procedural Criminal Law) “Preliminary proceedings” of a jurisdictional nature, the processing of which corresponds to the Investigating Judge and in which the law provides for an active intervention of the Public Prosecutor's Office. Its purpose is to carry out the necessary procedures aimed at determining the nature and circumstances of the offense.

The second phase is called by the doctrine intermediate phase and by the L.E.Cr. “Of the preparation of the oral trial”, which begins at the moment in which the Judge issues a resolution agreeing to follow the process of this procedure and is intended to order the opening or not of the oral trial.

The third and last phase is the oral trial, which takes place before the competent Judge or Court for the prosecution and in which the evidentiary activity and the trial according to which a sentence is carried out.

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