a type of criminal trial that existed in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and other ancient slaveholding states, as well as, in somewhat modified form, in the feudal states of the early Middle Ages. The accusatorial trial was a dispute between the victim, who initiated the case and acted as prosecutor, and the person against whom the accusation was made. The gathering and submission of evidence was considered the exclusive right of the parties involved; the court’s sole function was to see that established rules of pleading were observed and to reach a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented. The trial was generally conducted orally and in public.
Later, for example, in imperial Rome, the accusatorial procedure was increasingly combined with elements of the inquisitorial trial, which finally supplanted the accusatorial trial between the 13th and 15th centuries.