Indictment Hearing in Colombia

portada formlario de acusacion scaled

The indictment hearing in Colombia is the hearing that opens the trial stage by means of the indictment, which must be presented by the prosecution within 30 days following the indictment. This brief seeks to define the facts leading to the criminal charges and to define the competence of the judge.

Pursuant to article 337 of Law 906 of 2004, the indictment must contain

  1. The specific individualization of the defendants, including their name, identifying data and address for summons.
  2. A clear and succinct account of the legally relevant facts, in understandable language.
  3. The name and place of summons of the trusted attorney or, failing that, of the attorney appointed by the National Public Defense System.
  4. The list of assets and resources affected for purposes of forfeiture.
  5. Discovery of evidence. For this purpose, an attached document shall be submitted, which shall contain:
    • a) Facts that do not require proof.
    • b) The transcription of the anticipated evidence to be adduced at the trial, provided that its practice cannot be repeated at the trial.
    • c) The name, address and personal data of the witnesses or experts whose testimony is requested in the trial.
    • d) The documents, objects or other elements to be adduced, together with the respective accreditation witnesses.
    • e) The indication of the witnesses or experts on their behalf, indicating their name, address and personal data.
    • f) Other elements favorable to the accused in possession of the Prosecutor’s Office.
    • g) Statements or depositions.

Upon receipt of the indictment, the judge shall set a date, time and place for the hearing. The prosecutor, the defense attorney and the defendant may decide whether to attend or not.

The procedure for the hearing is as follows, in accordance with Article 339 of the Code of Criminal Procedure

Once the hearing is opened by the judge, he shall order the transfer of the indictment to the intervening parties, and shall first give the floor to the representative of the prosecution, then to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and then to the defense, so that each one of them may state whether they see grounds of incompetence, impediments, recusals and nullities, and shall also express any observations they may have on the content of the indictment, so that it may be clarified, corrected or added to at the same hearing.

Once the above procedure has been completed, the representative of the prosecutor’s office will be given the floor again to present the accusation orally.

Before the end of the indictment hearing, the judge shall incorporate the corrections to the indictment read, approve or disapprove the agreements reached by the parties and conditionally suspend the proceedings, when appropriate.

Once the indictment hearing is concluded, the judge will set a date, time and room for the preparatory hearing, which must be held within a period of no less than 15 days and no more than 30 days following the date set.