Conciliation in criminal matters in Colombia is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism whose objective is to access to justice, the promotion of conflict resolution for individuals in their disputes and the stimulation of peaceful coexistence and decongestion of judicial offices. Conciliation may be requested by both the defendant and the victim, provided that certain requirements are met.
Requirements for conciliation in criminal matters in Colombia
First of all, the crime must be one of those that allow conciliation, as established in the Penal Code. These crimes include mainly those of lesser gravity, such as negligent injuries, damage to another’s property, slander or libel, among others that are not punishable by imprisonment. In these cases, conciliation is understood as a procedural requirement for the exercise of the criminal action.
Conciliation process in criminal matters in Colombia
Once it has been established that the crime is reconcilable, the conciliation can be advanced before the appropriate prosecutor. The latter shall summon the parties to attend the hearing. The filing of the complaint is sufficient since the Prosecutor’s Office is already aware of the criminal complaint or notice and therefore, it is not necessary to request conciliation in the strict sense of the word. It is also possible to do so before a conciliation center or a conciliator recognized as such, in which case the Prosecutor shall forward copies within 5 days of receipt of the complaint in order to summon the parties within 20 days of its receipt and to hold a conciliation hearing.
Once the date is set, the hearing is held either before a prosecutor or a conciliation center, in case of unjustified non-attendance of the plaintiff, it will be understood as withdrawal of his claim. That of the defendant shall motivate the exercise of the criminal action, if applicable.
It is also possible that before the beginning of the oral trial hearing, the desire to desist from the criminal action may be expressed either verbally or in writing, and once accepted, no retraction is allowed.
It is important to note that the information disclosed at the Hearing is confidential and reserved, which means that neither the conciliator nor the parties may disclose or use such information at other times.
At the end of the conciliation stage, the conciliation minutes will be drawn up, which, in case of agreement, have full legal effects for the parties, this is assimilated to a court judgment because the agreement becomes res judicata and the minutes are enforceable.