The Constitutional Council ruled on Friday that the French-style “
” procedure, one aspect of which was contested by lawyers, complies with the basic text.
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The institution had been seized of a priority question of constitutionality (QPC) raised by an accused of Draguignan (Var), to which joined the Association of criminal lawyers (ADAP). It concerned the appearance on prior admission of guilt (CRPC), a simplified criminal procedure created in 2004, which consists, for certain offenses, in avoiding a trial if the person concerned admits his guilt. In this case, the prosecutor proposes a fine or prison sentence (never more than one year): if the accused accepts, the sentence is then submitted to a judge, who can approve or refuse it.
The law provides that the accused can appeal a conviction to the CRPC but there is no recourse if the judge refuses to validate it - only an exceptional procedure, an appeal in cassation for "
excess of power
", being possible. The applicants considered that this lack of recourse was contrary to the Constitution because the defendant, then referred to a court, incurs a higher sentence - in CRPC, the negotiated sentence cannot exceed half of the maximum envisaged by the law. For them, the court then seized also has "
" on an accused who has, in the past, recognized his responsibility and is therefore no longer presumed innocent.
In a decision on Friday, the Constitutional Council rejected these criticisms, stressing that the law prohibits the court from mentioning a "
" who would have previously not been successful, thus preserving the rights of the defense. The institution also considers that the "
" in the event of failure of a CRPC is the normal judicial route, that is to say a classic trial in court or the opening of a judicial investigation. The "
»Have already ruled five times on the CRPC but the applicants were based on an evolution of the law which, in 2019, clarified the discretionary power of the homologation judge. About 85,000 CRPC orders were concluded in 2019 across France, a very large part of which have been approved, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Justice.