Changes regarding the procedure for calculating the terms of the pre-trial investigation and grounds for closing criminal proceedings
Author: Denis Revta, attorney at Dynasty Law & Investment
On January 1, 2024, the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine and other legislative acts of Ukraine on strengthening the independence of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office” No. 3509-IX dated December 8, 2023 entered into force, which, in particular, made changes to the procedure and terms pre-trial investigation and grounds for making a decision to close criminal proceedings.
The specified law establishes that the term of the pre-trial investigation is calculated from the moment the person is notified of the suspicion, and not from the moment information is entered into the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations, as provided for in the previous edition of the Code, and the limitations of the pre-trial investigation period established by the previous edition are also excluded.
Also, the specified law excludes the grounds for closing criminal proceedings in the form of the expiry of the time limit for conducting a pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings in which a person has not been notified of suspicion.
The consequence of such changes was the elimination of any time limits for conducting pre-trial investigations by investigative bodies and the expansion of the possibility of pressure on business, in particular, conducting an unlimited number of searches in “actual” criminal proceedings, interfering with private communication by conducting secret investigative (search) actions, obtaining access to documents, seizure of property, including bank accounts.
At the same time, as a result of the unlimited duration of such a pre-trial investigation, the powers of persons in criminal proceedings against whom it is conducted are significantly narrowed, given the lack of a procedural status that would allow such persons to familiarize themselves with the materials of the proceedings and respond to the actions of pre-trial investigation bodies.
Taking into account the fact that the introduced changes significantly expanded the capabilities and powers of pre-trial investigation bodies regarding the possibility of exerting pressure on business entities, the need to obtain qualified legal assistance in the field of business protection in the criminal law field is of particular relevance.