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Electronic system of pre-trial investigation: a sentence in an SMS message?

15/ 07/ 2021
  Author: Natalia Ponomarenko, Lawyer of Dynasty Law & Investment In early spring, Facebook was flooded with thematic photo-frogs, which dealt with the topic of sentencing, with speeches by the prosecutor and defense counsel, the last word of the accused and sentencing in the form of correspondence on a smartphone. The reason for such folk art was the submission to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a bill that was to supplement the Criminal Procedure Code with articles on the introduction of information and telecommunications system of pre-trial investigation. On June 1, 2021, the law was adopted and sent to the President for signature. Will these changes really mean the transition to criminal proceedings and online sentencing? Lets understand together. First of all, it should be emphasized that the changes brought by the new law concern only the stage of pre-trial investigation and do not affect the consideration of criminal proceedings by the court. That is, the trial procedure, which begins after the indictment is served on the person and the investigation is completed, remains unchanged. As before, the examination of evidence, the hearing of the prosecutor, the victim, the defense counsel, the accused, and the commission of other actions specified by procedural law will be carried out by the judge directly at the court hearing. The second point to note is that for a defense counsel, the use of the pre-trial investigation system is a right, not an obligation, as it is possible only with his consent. The suspect, as a separate subject of the use of the system, is not directly defined by law at all, and therefore is not obliged to use it. Therefore, after analyzing the adopted law, we can conclude that its main purpose is to facilitate communication between investigators and the court. For persons who for some reason were under investigation, and their defenders, the new law does not provide for additional restrictions or restriction of rights and does not allow to find a person guilty without his presence in court.

Author: Natalia Ponomarenko, Lawyer of Dynasty Law & Investment

In early spring, Facebook was flooded with thematic photo-frogs, which dealt with the topic of sentencing, with speeches by the prosecutor and defense counsel, the last word of the accused and sentencing in the form of correspondence on a smartphone. The reason for such folk art was the submission to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a bill that was to supplement the Criminal Procedure Code with articles on the introduction of information and telecommunications system of pre-trial investigation.

On June 1, 2021, the law was adopted and sent to the President for signature. Will these changes really mean the transition to criminal proceedings and online sentencing? Let’s understand together.

First of all, it should be emphasized that the changes brought by the new law concern only the stage of pre-trial investigation and do not affect the consideration of criminal proceedings by the court. That is, the trial procedure, which begins after the indictment is served on the person and the investigation is completed, remains unchanged. As before, the examination of evidence, the hearing of the prosecutor, the victim, the defense counsel, the accused, and the commission of other actions specified by procedural law will be carried out by the judge directly at the court hearing.

The second point to note is that for a defense counsel, the use of the pre-trial investigation system is a right, not an obligation, as it is possible only with his consent. The suspect, as a separate subject of the use of the system, is not directly defined by law at all, and therefore is not obliged to use it.

Therefore, after analyzing the adopted law, we can conclude that its main purpose is to facilitate communication between investigators and the court. For persons who for some reason were under investigation, and their defenders, the new law does not provide for additional restrictions or restriction of rights and does not allow to find a person guilty without his presence in court.

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