How Criminal Procedure Works: A Step-by-Step Guide

In this guide we tell you how criminal proceedings work step by step. If you have any doubts about whether you need a criminal lawyer and the steps involved in criminal proceedings in Spain today, today we will explain them to you.

Criminal proceedings: how it works step by step

One of the most important parts of the legal profession is the criminal lawyer. That is why we believe it is essential for our clients to know the different stages that make up the criminal process, a structured system that allows the courts of justice to carry out their work effectively.

If you have any doubts about when to hire a criminal lawyer and how the whole criminal process works, below we look at it in detail. Let’s take it one step at a time.

What are criminal proceedings?

The criminal process, as such, is the system used by the State to carry out its right to punish. Through this system, it seeks to investigate a crime, identify the perpetrator, impose sanctions or security measures on the accused and, finally, enforce those sanctions.

In addition, there are special considerations when it comes to juvenile criminal proceedings. In other words, it does not always proceed in the same way.

Stages of criminal proceedings

Criminal proceedings are mainly divided into 4 stages:

Preparatory stage: also known as the investigation stage. In this stage, a case is presented to the competent authorities for evaluation within the accusatory system. The preparatory stage is further subdivided into two parts, which are as follows:
Initial Investigation: begins with the filing of a complaint. It concludes when the accused is placed at the disposal of the supervisory judge for the corresponding indictment to be formulated.
Complementary Investigation: includes the formulation of the indictment and is completed once the investigation has been completed.
Intermediate stage: this stage covers the period from the formulation of the indictment to the opening of the trial. During this stage, if it is considered that there is sufficient evidence to presume that the accused is guilty, an indictment is brought before a judge. This is followed by a discussion between the defendant and the victim through their lawyers.
Oral trial: once the admissible evidence has been determined and other alternative solutions that could avoid bringing the conflict to trial have been exhausted, the oral trial stage takes place. This phase covers the period from the beginning of the opening of the trial until the sentence issued by the Court of the accusatory system. During the oral trial, a debate takes place in which both parties present their evidence and arguments.
Sentencing: once the innocence or guilt of the accused has been determined, the sentence is handed down so that the accused knows his or her fate. The sentence is read and explained clearly and precisely to avoid misunderstandings. This concludes the criminal proceedings.

These are the 4 stages of the criminal process, so that you can understand how it works step by step and how to proceed in each of the phases.

We know that it can be a long and full procedure for the parties involved, so it always helps to have a lawyer by your side to defend you and look after your interests, regardless of which side you are on.

How to know if I need a criminal lawyer

Whether you need a criminal lawyer depends on the legal situation you are in. So it is important to know where you stand. For example, it can be helpful in the following situations:

You are under investigation for a crime or have been accused of committing a crime If you are under police investigation or have been formally accused of committing a crime, you need to be represented by a criminal lawyer. A lawyer will help you understand your rights, advise you on how to answer the authorities’ questions and represent you at all stages of the criminal process. It is absolutely essential.
You have been arrested: if you have been arrested, you have the right to have a lawyer to advise and defend you.
You are involved in a complex legal process: if you are facing a trial, an appeal or a court hearing, an experienced criminal lawyer can guide you through the process and present strong arguments in your defence, for a better outcome.
You want to achieve the best possible outcome for your case: if you are facing criminal charges, a criminal lawyer can help you achieve the best possible result. This could involve reducing charges, negotiating a favourable plea bargain or presenting a strong defence at trial.

Our advice is to have a good lawyer if you are dealing with a legal matter that could have criminal consequences. This specialist can provide you with legal guidance and look after your interests.

Do you have any questions? Remember that we can help you.