Home

IOJT Newsletter

Member of IAAJS

International Law Associations

Judicial Affairs of Tufts University

Internationalization of Law network

School of Advanced International Studies

UCL Judicial Institute

History of Legal system of Saudi Arabia

Sources of law in Saudi Arabia

The courts and the judiciary in Saudi Arabia

Major areas of law in Saudi Arabia

Human rights and rule of law issues in Saudi Arabia

______________________

God soul
humanity
life and death
time machine
human life
science fiction
sense of life
 

 

International Alliance for Advanced Judicial Studies (IAAJS)

Criminal procedure

 

Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or incarcerated, and results in the conviction or acquittal of the defendant. Criminal procedure can be either in form of inquisitorial or adversarial criminal procedure.

Currently, in many countries with a democratic system and the rule of law, criminal procedure puts the burden of proof on the prosecution – that is, it is up to the prosecution to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, as opposed to having the defense prove that s/he is innocent, and any doubt is resolved in favor of the defendant. This provision, known as the presumption of innocence, is required, for example, in the 46 countries that are members of the Council of Europe, under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and it is included in other human rights documents. However, in practice it operates somewhat differently in different countries. Such basic rights also include the right for the defendant to know what offence he or she has been arrested for or is being charged with, and the right to appear before a judicial official within a certain time of being arrested. Many jurisdictions also allow the defendant the right to legal counsel and provide any defendant who cannot afford their own lawyer with a lawyer paid for at the public expense.

Most countries make a rather clear distinction between civil and criminal procedures. For example, an English criminal court may force a defendant to pay a fine as punishment for his crime, and he may sometimes have to pay the legal costs of the prosecution. But the victim of the crime pursues his claim for compensation in a civil, not a criminal, action. In France, Italy, and many countries besides, the victim of a crime (known as the "injured party") may be awarded damages by a criminal court judge.

The standards of proof are higher in a criminal action than in a civil one since the loser risks not only financial penalties but also being sent to prison (or, in some countries, execution). In English law the prosecution must prove the guilt of a criminal “beyond reasonable doubt”; but the plaintiff in a civil action is required to prove his case “on the balance of probabilities”. "Beyond reasonable doubt" is not defined for the jury which decides the verdict, but it has been said by appeal courts that proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt requires the prosecution to exclude any reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence: Plomp v. R. In a civil case, however, the court simply weighs the evidence and decides what is most probable.

In Anglo-American law, the party bringing a criminal action (that is, in most cases, the state) is called the prosecution, but the party bringing a civil action is the plaintiff. In both kinds of action the other party is known as the defendant. A criminal case in the United States against a person named Ms. Sanchez would be entitled United States v. (short for versus, or against) Sanchez if initiated by the federal government; if brought by a state, the case would typically be called State v. Sanchez or People v. Sanchez. In the United Kingdom, the criminal case would be styled R. (short for Rex or Regina, that is, the King or Queen) v. Sanchez. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, a civil action between Ms. Sanchez and a Mr. Smith would be Sanchez v. Smith if started by Sanchez and Smith v. Sanchez if begun by Smith.

Evidence given at a criminal trial is not necessarily admissible in a civil action about the same matter, just as evidence given in a civil cause is not necessarily admissible on a criminal trial. For example, the victim of a road accident does not directly benefit if the driver who injured him is found guilty of the crime of careless driving. He still has to prove his case in a civil action. In fact he may be able to prove his civil case even when the driver is found not guilty in the criminal trial. If the accused has given evidence on his trial he may be cross-examined on those statements in a subsequent civil action regardless of the criminal verdict.

Proponents of either system tend to consider that their system defends best the rights of the innocent. There is a tendency in common law countries to believe that civil law / inquisitorial systems do not have the so-called "presumption of innocence", and do not provide the defence with adequate rights. Conversely, there is a tendency in countries with an inquisitorial system to believe that accusatorial proceedings unduly favour rich defendants who can afford large legal teams, and are very harsh on poorer defendants.

 
 

Copyright é International Alliance for Advanced Judicial Studies (IAAJS) 2019. All Rights Reserved.

___________________________________________________