3 Things to Know About the Mexican Criminal Justice System.

Question: What are the 3 Stages of a Criminal Case in the Mexican Justice System?

-Preliminary Investigation. (Begins when the accusation is reported to “Ministerio Publico” (Investigative Police/District Attorney’s Office) and ends with the “Audiencia Inicial” (Preliminary Hearing). From this hearing there will be either a dismissal of charges or issuance of an “Auto de Vinculacion al Process” (Order to Continue with Criminal Justice Proceedings. At this time, “Medidas Cuatelares” (Precautionary Measures), are discussed by the defense, prosecuting attorney and judge. These measures can range from restraining orders, mandatory sign in at the courthouse, or an order for the accused to remain detained. It all depends on the nature of the charges and needs of the victim/victim’s family.
-Complementary Investigation. (This takes places if more time is needed to investigate evidence, documents and witnesses. At any point in the investigation, if the M.P. and “Juez de Control” (Supervising Judge) agree, for legal reasons, that the charges should no longer be pursued against the accused, the case will be suspended.

-Preparation for “Juicio Oral” (Oral Trial). During this period both defense and prosecution prepare their witnesses and evidence. The “Juez de Control” reviews the evidence and witnesses provided by the parties, and decides whether that material is admissible in the “Juicio Oral” (Oral Trial).

-Oral Trial (Should follow these core principals: “Inmediación” (Immediacy), “Publicidad” (Openness), “Concentración” (Consentration), “Igualdad” (Equity), “Celeridad” (Speed) y “Continuidad” (Continuity).

In this portion of the process, both the defense and prosecution present their cases to the Trial Judge. All evidence and witnesses are presented and questioned. During this period both defense and prosecution are offered the opportunity to cross-examine, as well as to refute the evidence or testimony provided by their counterpart. This stage of the criminal justice process ends with an acquittal of the accused or a sentencing, in the case that the accused has been found guilty by the judge.

*This stage of the process differs drastically from the previous system, in which documents and evidence were provided to the court by both parties and no verbal deliberation took place.

Question: What Role Do Bystanders who Witness a Crime in Mexico Have in the Investigation?

Answer: Article 216 of the “Codigo Federal de Procedimientos Penales” (Federal Criminal Procedure Code) states that those who are present at the time and place of a crime must be interviewed and their testimony can play an essential role in the prosecution or acquittal of an accused individual. Members of the community who witness crimes are encouraged to participate in criminal investigations, as much as possible.

Question: Big changes were made to the Mexican Criminal Justice System in 2008. What do these changes consist of?

A: The most obvious change that was made to the Mexican Criminal Justice System in 2008 was to place all of the states of Mexico under one Federal Penal System, whereas before there was a State System and a Federal System.
The new system presents a simpler framework for the investigation and trial than before, this offering a more expeditious process with improved efficacy.

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