The preparatory hearing in Colombia is set at the final stage of the indictment hearing and the presence of the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney is indispensable for the hearing to begin and for it to be valid.
The development of the hearing, according to article 356 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is:
- That the parties express their pertinent observations on the evidentiary discovery procedure, especially if the discovery conducted outside the venue of the indictment hearing has been completed. If it is not, the judge will reject it.
- For the defense to discover its material probative elements and physical evidence.
- That the prosecution and the defense set forth the totality of the evidence to be presented at the oral and public trial hearing.
- That the parties state whether they are interested in making evidentiary stipulations. In this case, a recess will be declared for a period of 1 hour, after which the hearing will be resumed for the Prosecutor’s Office and the defense to comment on the matter.
- That the accused state whether or not he/she accepts the charges. In the first case, the sentence shall be reduced by up to one third of the penalty to be imposed. In the second case, the ordinary procedure will continue.
In general, the development of the hearing is based on the request for evidence made by the parties to prove their claims. These must meet the legal requirements to be considered admissible. These requirements are:
- That they refer directly or indirectly to the facts of the accusation (relevance).
- That are required for the oral trial (usefulness).
- That are legally obtained or collected.
What other requirements are there for the preparatory hearing in Colombia?
In addition to complying with the requirements, the reason for complying with each one of them must be justified.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office may also request evidence when it has not been requested by the defense or the prosecution.
The judge in this same hearing must reject, exclude or inadmit the evidence that does not comply with the aforementioned requirements and evidence may not be ordered ex officio.
Finally, the hearing ends with the setting of the date, time and room for the beginning of the trial, which must be held within 30 days following the end of this hearing, in accordance with Article 365 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.