Accused Hard to be Arm-Twisted


Legal Update No 784

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, formerly Goltsblat BLP in Russia, advises that Federal Law No. 224-FZ dated 20 July 2020 “On Amending Articles 314 and 316 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation” (the Federal Law) came into force on 31 July 2020.

The amendments cover the special procedure (the Special Procedure) governed by Article 40 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code for issuing a court decision if the accused pleads guilty.

The Special Procedure implies the Judge not reviewing or assessing the evidence on the criminal case in the usual manner but issuing a sentence that may not exceed two-thirds of the maximum term or the severest punishment. Moreover, the Special Procedure sentence may not be appealed by referring to the court’s conclusions being inconsistent with the actual circumstances.

The amendments will primarily cover the grounds for applying the Special Procedure. Those entitled to petition for a sentence without legal proceedings used to be persons accused of crimes with a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment provided they admit the charges and the prosecutor, the private accuser and the aggrieved party give their consent to the Special Procedure. Now, the right to petition for a sentence to be issued without general legal proceedings will belong only to persons accused of minor or medium gravity crimes, unless the prosecuting official or the private accuser or the aggrieved party objects to the Special Procedure being applied. Minor or medium gravity crimes consist of deliberate acts for which the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment and negligent acts incurring a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Another new development covers the possibility of terminating a criminal case if the Special Procedure applies. From now on, a Judge may order termination of a criminal case on the grounds provided for by Articles 25.1, 28.1 and 239 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code.

In general, the Federal Law establishes an important rule for criminal court proceedings: participants in grave criminal cases should examine the actual circumstances of the case and not rely on the accused admitting their guilt, often under pressure.

If you have any questions or comments on these developments, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to discuss them.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP, formerly Goltsblat BLP in Russia, will continue monitoring the situation and keep you informed of any significant legal changes.

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