Pre-agreements in Colombia are negotiations between the prosecution and the defense, where the defendant accepts the charges in exchange for a reduced sentence. The objective of pre-agreements is to speed up the judicial process with the help and participation of the defendant, either by accepting some charges, changing the crime committed for another, making reparations to the victim of the facts and avoiding expenses in time and money.
The issues it can deal with are:
- The facts charged or any related facts.
- The typical adequacy including the causes of aggravation and punitive attenuation.
- The consequences of the crime.
These may be requested from before the indictment hearing until the oral trial hearing, after which the opportunity will be lost.
Among the benefits that plea bargains can have for both the prosecution and the defendant are the following:
For the Prosecutor’s Office
allows for greater efficiency in the administration of justice by allowing cases to be resolved more quickly and without the need for a full trial. In addition, it can allow for greater effectiveness in the imposition of sanctions, since the accused accepts responsibility and the penalty to be imposed.
For the defendant
It may mean a reduction in the penalty to be imposed, since it takes into account their collaboration in the investigation or their willingness to repair the damage caused. You may also avoid the risk of being convicted of more serious charges or being sentenced to a higher penalty.
In order to access them, the defendant must first express his or her willingness to the trusted or court-appointed lawyer to enter into a pre-agreement with the prosecutor in charge. The request may be requested orally during hearings and the judicial proceeding shall be suspended.
Subsequently, the Prosecutor’s Office will meet with the defendant and the defendant’s attorney and the pre-settlement agreement will be negotiated. Once the pre-agreement has been established, the prosecutor will request a hearing before the judge in charge of the criminal proceeding, in which the judge will approve the pre-agreement through a sentence and a judgment will be issued.
It is important to clarify that, there is a possibility that the judge may not accept the pre-agreement if he finds any irregularity and the process will continue.
Finally, pre-agreements do not apply to all crimes, as is the case, for example, of homicide or intentional personal injury committed against children or adolescents. The excluded offenses also include terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, extortion and related crimes.