THE JUDICIAL CRIMINAL PROCESS IN SPAIN
The criminal process is the set of acts of a heterogeneous nature carried out successively and in accordance with a legal order, which allow the judicial body, through the clash of the claims of the prosecution and the defense, to declare proven, where appropriate, the commission of a criminal offense, imposing on those responsible the criminal and civil consequences inherent to said declaration.
Its instrumental nature is clear from the norm that opens the articles of the Criminal Procedure Law (called in Spanish: LECrim), which proclaims that "no penalty will be imposed as a consequence of punishable acts which repression falls under the ordinary jurisdiction, but in accordance with the provisions of this Code or special laws and by virtue of a sentence handed down by a competent judge.» The terms of crime, trial and penalty are, therefore, complementary.
Article 1 LECrim is invoked by the doctrine to affirm the existence of a triple exclusivity in the field of criminal law:
1. The ius puniendi ("right to punish") corresponds to the State, which exercises it in a monopoly regime, which means:
a) the prohibition of self-protection and, even more, the criminalization of the arbitrary realization of one's own right (art. 455 Criminal Code ); and
b) the non-availability of the sentence by individuals: state exclusivity.
2.º Only the courts can declare the existence of a crime and impose a penalty: jurisdictional exclusivity.
3rd Lastly, the courts of justice can only impose penalties for the course of the process: procedural exclusivity.
Together with the double function of acting the ius puniendi of the State and of protecting the right to freedom of the innocent citizen, the criminal process assumes other tasks such as the compensation of the victim and the rehabilitation of the condemned.