in Soviet law, a stage of criminal procedure that follows the institution of proceedings and ends either with submission of the case with a conclusion to indict to the procurator or with dismissal of the case. The purpose of the preliminary investigation is a detailed, full, and objective elucidation of all circumstances of fundamental importance to a correct resolution of the case. Such investigations are made by investigators from the procuracy, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or state security agencies. During the investigation, evidence is gathered and checked, persons against whom sufficient evidence of commission of a crime has been gathered are brought in as accused persons, measures of restraint are selected, and steps are taken to support a civil action and possible confiscation of property.
Extensive rights are given during the preliminary investigation to suspects, accused persons, victims, and other participants in the trial to protect their legal interests. Regardless of the procedural activity of participants in the trial, however, the preliminary investigation agency must fully ensure their legal interests. In particular, the investigator must take equal care to gather both incriminating and absolving evidence.
The defense lawyer is permitted to participate in the preliminary investigation from the moment that the proceedings are presented to the accused for familiarization. In cases involving minors and persons who cannot speak the language of the court and in certain other cases provided for by law, the lawyer may participate from the moment the accusation is made.
When it is determined that circumstances exist that preclude a criminal case, the agency of preliminary investigation decides to dismiss the case. The legislation of most of the Union republics also provides for the pronouncement of such a decision if the guilty person is released on patronage or if the case is transferred to a comrades’ court or to a commission on juvenile affairs.
When the case is sent to court, the conclusions of the preliminary investigation are thoroughly checked during the judicial examination. In practice, most of the evidence is gathered during the preliminary investigation, and the main attention of the court investigation is directed at verifying it.