The Judicial Process in Phases: From Investigation to Oral Trial
In the judicial system, the Instruction phase marks a crucial milestone in the development of a legal procedure. This stage concludes when all investigative diligences have been carried out to clarify the events that led to the legal proceedings. At this point, the Investigating Judge has the authority to decide between dismissing the case if they believe the events do not constitute a crime or are not adequately justified, or transforming the preliminary proceedings into the Abbreviated (Expedited) Procedure.
The formal indictment of a person occurs at the end of the Instruction phase. If the Investigating Judge identifies signs of criminality during the investigation, they issue an Expedited Procedure Ruling (in Spanish law this ruling is called Auto). It is essential to highlight that this decree cannot be issued without prior questioning of the person accused of committing a crime.
In the Expedited Procedure Ruling, the Judge must specify the facts considered to be criminal and identify the alleged perpetrators. This step is crucial for the subsequent opening of an Oral Trial, as the status of an "investigated person" is acquired through this decree, thereby preventing surprise or unfounded accusations.
After issuing the Expedited Procedure Ruling, the Investigating Judge notifies the Public Prosecutor and the prosecution to submit, within ten days, a request for the opening of an Oral Trial or the dismissal of the case. The prosecution documents must adhere to the elements outlined in the Expedited Procedure Ruling.
Once the prosecution indictment is received, the Investigating Judge issues the Oral Trial Opening Ruling, determining the procedure to follow and the competent authority. This decree also decides on precautionary measures and their lifting for those not accused.
It is crucial to emphasize that the Expedited Procedure Ruling is binding for the accusations, therefore inconsistency between this Ruling, the prosecution indictment, and the Oral Trial Opening Ruling could constitute a clear violation of the right to defense.
Once the Oral Trial opening is decided, the accused receives the proceedings and the prosecution documents to present their defense. This process concludes with the transmission of the proceedings to the competent body for trial.
It is fundamental to remember that the Oral Trial Opening Ruling is non-appealable, except for aspects related to the personal situation of the accused, ensuring the right to effective judicial protection.