Complaint – Definition, Types, Effects & Requirements

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Complaint – Definition, Types, Effects & Requirements

Complaint - Definition, Types, Effects & Requirements
Complaint – Definition, Types, Effects & Requirements

What is a Complaint?

A complaint is a letter that informs the authorities of a criminal action accusing the person who has committed the crime and for which the criminal process is initiated.

The complaint is a right that the victim has. This document serves two functions:

  • Inform the judicial authority that a crime has been committed.
  • Desire to participate in the criminal process.

The conduct carried out must be framed within the penal code of the country.

Two parties participate in the complaint:

  1. Defendant:  It is the person denounced. It can be a natural or legal person.
  2. Complainant:  It is the person who accuses the defendant of having committed a crime. It can be a natural or legal person.

Types of Complaint

There are two main types of complaint:

  • Private complaint:  This type of complaint is the most common. It is filed by an individual who has to coincide with being the victim of the crime that he reports.
  • Public complaint:  It is filed by a public authority (prosecutor’s office), in order to prosecute the crime, without being the victim of it.

Complaint Requirements

The main requirements that the complaint must meet in order to be viable are:

  • Competition: It must be presented to the competent body that has to resolve these criminal acts.
  • Must have legal representation.
  • It must comply with formal requirements: That is, contain the facts, name of the complainant and the defendant, judicial body before which it is presented, facts (place and date) and claim (including provisional detention or embargoes).
  • Bond: In order to avoid an exorbitant number of false complaints, a bond is required.

Effects of a Complaint

The main effects of the filing of this document that opens the criminal process are the following:

  • If the denounced actions are not a crime, they cannot be included in the penal code, the complaint will not be admitted and the criminal process will not be opened.
  • In the event that the complaints are defective in form, but if their facts constitute a crime, the complainant is required to correct them.
  • For a complaint that contains a crime that can only be prosecuted at the request of a party, that is, it is not a public crime, if the complainant does not want to continue with this process, the criminal process will end.
  • For a complaint that has the content of a crime that pursues a public crime that must be prosecuted, whether or not there is a private complaint, if the complaining party does not want to continue with the process, it will continue without that party being present in the process.
  • If the complaints comply with formal and content requirements, the criminal process is opened and the lis pendens is born. This means that another procedure cannot be opened with the same object.
  • Likewise, if the complaints meet all the requirements, the statute of limitations is interrupted. And, as a consequence of the above, it is suspended in the event that there is a civil process with the same object, until the criminal case is resolved.
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