Inquest-Indictment

Inquest-Indictment

 

in bourgeois states, a procedure for handling criminal cases in which the case’s two main parts—preliminary investigation and court trial—are based on different legal principles. Such a procedure was first introduced in France in 1808. A type of inquest-indictment procedure was used as the basis for criminal procedure in tsarist Russia, being incorporated into the Judicial Statutes of 1864.

In an inquest-indictment procedure, the preliminary investigation seeks to establish the guilt of the accused. It determines the direction and limits of the court trial and in many instances all but determines the disposition of the case. The process is characterized by the absolute power of the prosecuting authority, a lack of publicity and adversary procedure, and limitations on the rights of the accused and his defense counsel. The principal part of the preliminary investigation consists of the arbitrary actions of the police. Moreover, existing procedural guarantees are reduced to nothing in a number of instances on the grounds of urgency and expediency. The accused is not entitled to be fully acquainted with the materials of the case. The presumption of innocence is essentially inoperative, and a confession by the accused is regarded as decisive evidence.

The court trial in an inquest-indictment procedure is required by law to be a public proceeding with the participation of jurors. The opposing parties have equal status, and there is oral testimony and direct examination of the materials of the case in a court session. Here, the rights of the defendant and the defense counsel are broadened. However, numerous stipulations in criminal and procedural law, as well as the application of the law, substantially hinder the working people in utilizing the democratic principles governing trials in criminal cases. Nevertheless, progressive forces, including communist parties, are waging a struggle for the observance and development of democratic principles in criminal legal procedures.

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