By Law no. 284/2020 the Romanian Parliament has adopted measures supplementing and amending the regulation of criminal law procedures. The nine amendments in force since the 12th of December 2020 transpose the provisions of Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspected or accused in criminal proceedings.
A new article 2441 is introduced, which completes the provisions of art. 244 regarding the special conditions for the execution of detention and pre-trial detention ordered against minors. The new article regulates the fact that, in addition to the information provided by art. 209 para. (17) and art. 228 para. (2), the detained or arrested minor is entitled to be communicated the special conditions of execution (mentioned in art. 244). This information should also be provided to:
- parents or, as the case may be, guardian or any adult person in whose care or supervision the minor temporarily is ,
- another adult designated by the minor (if the other persons could not be found or their knowledge of this would alter the minor’s best interest or even the conduct of the criminal proceedings),
- a person chosen by the judicial body, taking into account the best interests of the minor, if the minor has not appointed another adult or the adult has not been accepted by the judicial body.
The three new paragraphs introduced in art. 504 implement for any person aged 18-21 the application of the procedure in cases with minors during criminal proceedings if at the time of acquiring the status of suspect they were minors, only if the judicial body deems it necessary after taking into account all circumstances of the case. (including the degree of maturity and the degree of vulnerability of the data subject.) Also, according to par. 4, in order to assess the capacity of the suspected or defendant minor on whom a custodial measure has been ordered, the results of the medical examination performed at the place of detention shall be taken into account.
In addition, it will be presumed that the suspect or defendant is a minor, if the judicial body cannot determine the age of the person concerned or there are reasons to consider such premise.
Correlatively to the first paragraph, art. 505 emphasizes the idea of informing the parents, guardians or any person in whose care or supervision the minor is temporarily, if their presence is considered by the criminal investigation body to be in the best interest of the minor during any criminal investigation. Conversely, if their presence would affect the best interests of the minor or the conduct of the criminal proceedings, another adult will be appointed by the minor or by the judicial body (if either the minor did not designate an adult or they were not accepted by the judicial body).
A further change is marked by the appearance of two new articles detailing the procedure in criminal cases involving minors. The manner of informing the suspected or defendant minor is expressly stated considering it is compulsory to guarantee the right to a fair trial. An important change also comes in the case of costs. Thus, they remain the responsibility of the state if they are generated by audio-video recordings.
Paragraph (11) in art. 506 bears the obligation to request the evaluation report in case of sending the minor to court.
The text of par. (2) of art. 506 is altered so that the court is given the possibility to request or not the evaluation report of the minor. Yet, the inquiry of the report is mandatory if there was no previous request to that effect in the criminal investigation phase.
Also, in connection with the evaluation report, the addition of a new paragraph indicates the request of a new evaluation report if the constituent elements have clearly changed.
An important change is found in art. 507, para. (3) amended so that the court may decide to apply the procedure for cases with juvenile offenders if at the date of the court notification the defendant was an adult, but at the date of acquiring the quality of suspect, he had not turned 18 years old.
Art. 508 is extended by three new paragraphs, thus the minor being able to designate another adult to be cited in case that the persons from paragraphs (1) – (3) could not be found or their presence would have affected the superior interest of the minor or the conduct of the process. In case of non-designation by the minor or non-acceptance of the designated adult by the judicial body, another adult will be appointed by the judicial body.
The New Criminal Procedure Code cand be found in its final form by accessing http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/120611.