Author(s) Henrique Gustavo Ribeiro Ferreira de Antas e Castro
Advisor(s) Mário João Ferreira Monte
Year 2015

Synopsis The present dissertation aims to understand the meaning and scope of the pretrial phase in the Portuguese criminal procedure system. It is well known that the criminal procedure, as configured in Código de Processo Penal of 1987, is divided in three phases: inquiry, pre-trial and trial. The pre-trial phase, as an intermediate and noncompulsory stage, consists in the judicial confirmation of the decision to prosecute or to file the inquiry in order to decide whether or not the case should be brought to trial. After considering some legislative changes that have mischaracterized the true purpose of this phase, it is important to understand if the paradigm outlined by the legislator for the pre-trial phase still remains identical. If not, a different solution may be preferable and this could either mean the complete elimination of this stage, or its replacement for an alternative and faster mechanism, one similar to the United States’ preliminary hearing, that shall be able to respond to the society’s increasing demands of efficiency. As it convenes citizens’ important fundamental rights, mainly of the accused, this is a matter of high complexity and that should always have the current constitutional panorama as its reference. In order to achieve the forementioned goal, this study is structured in seven chapters. The first aims to analyze the typical models of the criminal procedure, whilst the second and third chapters examine, respectively, the historical evolution of the criminal procedure, mainly the pre-trial phase, and its structure in Código de Processo Penal of 1987. Subsequently, the fourth chapter analyzes the constitutional meaning of this phase and the fifth focuses on the models of foreign countries concerning an eventual intermediate stage amongst the inquiry and the trial. The sixth and seventh chapters will be the core of the thesis, in which the legislative changes that have clouded this phase and its current meaning will be discussed.

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