Q: How do the District Attorney and
police work? |
A: The District Attorney investigates
with the help of the assistant district attorney and the
police at his command.
The wheels of
justice start turning after a citizen has presented a
report of a crime. The police will question witnesses and
relatives of the victim. If it is established that a
given suspect is probably the guilty party, the results
of the investigation will be turned over to a criminal
judge, asking that the suspect be apprehended and put on
trial. In this type of crime, the state is considered to
be the offended party and therefore the state is
interested in bringing the guilty person to trial.
In cases of
private offenses, the District Attorney must have the
complaint of the offended party in order to start his
investigation. The victim may prefer not to press
charges. This is often true in cases of adultery,
embezzlement. abduction, statutory rape, and other
offenses of this nature. It should be added that a pardon
of forgiveness on the part of the offended at any time
during the trial causes it to end at that moment. And if
the offender is in jail, brings about his immediate and
unconditional release. Once the investigation of a
Criminal offense is concluded, the district attorney
still sends its findings to the court and the court may
or not issue the writ of arrest asked for by the District
Attorney. The court is free to decide if the
investigation was properly done and review the complete
case. It can deny the request to continue the criminal
Q: Do the police question the
suspect before turning the case over to the judge?
A: Yes, the District Attorney as part
of his investigation must hear what the person that
committed the crime has to say. The District Attorney
will issue different summonses to make people come to
make statements. During the questioning in the District
Attorney's office or at police headquarters, no attorney
is permitted to be present while his client's testimony
Q: What happens after the
District Attorney sends the investigation to the judge,
the judge issues the Warrant of Arrest, and that person
is subsequently arrested?
A: The accused is taken to jail, a
record of his arrest is made, and he is fingerprinted. He
is taken to the criminal court where, in a public
hearing, he will be informed of the name of his accuser
and the nature and particulars of the charges brought
against him. Within forty-eight hours of being arrested
this important hearing must take place. At this time, the
accused shall make a general statement concerning the
case. He is informed in this hearing whether or not he
may enjoy freedom on bond. This benefit is granted only
when the average prison term applicable to the charges
does not exceed five years and the suspect has no
previous record. The bond will De set, taking into
consideration the financial means of the accused. If the
crime that motivated the trial is theft, fraud, or
embezzlement, the bond cannot exceed three times the
The accused has the
constitutional right not to incriminate himself and
cannot be compelled to testify against himself. From this
moment he may have a defense attorney who can assist him
during all facets of the trial. In the case of a pauper,
or if the person that is arrested does not name an
attorney, the judge will appoint a public defender.
During the first
forty-eight hours after arrest, the accused is permitted
to introduce any evidence to try to break down the
District Attorney's case and try to be freed, Within
seventy-two hours after a person was arrested,the judge
must decide whether the charges stand or whether threes
is not enough evidence to open trial against the accused.
Q: What can you do if a
relative of yours has been arrested without a warrant?
A: If any person is not released
after being questioned by the police and is not charged
with anything after seventy-two hours, you can obtain for
the relative an habeas corpus. In simple words, a federal
court directs the District Attorney or police to inform
you of the circumstances of detention. The police will
ordinarily release the suspect or they will be forced to
arraign the case before a criminal judge, If they hold
the person, and the federal court is misled or
misinformed, the person that misled or misinformed the
federal court can go to jail.
Q: What can you say about
police brutality and illegal arrest?
A: Any officer, government official,
or policeman who mistreats, inflicts punishment, insults
or unjustly humiliates a person can be punished with up
to six years in prison. Any officer guilty of illegal
arrest or of depriving any person of his constitutional
rights, can be punished with the same prison term. If a
person resists arrest or provokes the police with insults
and subsequently receives physical punishment, he does
not have any grounds to complain unless the violence is
such that it causes severe injuries, in which case it is
punishable. The law gives the police the right to defend
themselves in a small way from verbal or physical
Q: What should you do if
A: The police seldom detain anyone
unless there are serious grounds to indicate his guilt.
In order for the police to arrest a decent, respectable
citizen of another country, there must be much reason to
do so. The accused must behave respectfully and should
try not to insult the police or talk indecently. This
only provokes the police. All questions that refer to
name, age, address, occupation and other personal data of
the accused should be answered, and also many others that
cannot possibly harm or incriminate the individual
In many cases, the police
do not permit the accused to get help or even to inform
his lawyer. If force or threats are used, the person
being investigated should inform his lawyer at the first
Q: What should you do if you
have automobile accident?
A: First, you should try to remain as
calm as possible. Be courteous and show your good
manners. If possible, obtain names and addresses of any
witnesses. That can be of tremendous help to you later.
If you remain with your car, there will be a clear
indication that you are nor guilty. and the authorities
will certainly take that into consideration.
Q: Aren't you responsible for
a bigger offense if you leave the place of the accident?
A: Not necessarily. If you leave the
scene of the accident where persons were hurt and refused
to give aid on the highway, yes there will be a special
offense of having left an injured person in great need;
but if you leave the scene of the accident at noon in the
middle of downtown of any city of Mexico, the supreme
court has ruled that no special crime has been committed.
Q: Are the cars involved in
an accident detained for months?
A: Rarely will the cars be held for
more than a few days. Sometimes the evaluation of the
damages will take several days. The car whose owner was
responsible may be the only clue and will be held until
the owner is found or comes to claim it.
Q: What happens in an
accident if there are people killed and/or seriously
A: The driver who was responsible, if
he was not drunk or drugged and did not try to escape,
will have the opportunity to post bond, right there in
the District Attorney's office. The bond will be set
according to the seriousness of the accident, and it will
be larger if someone was killed. After the police takes
the statements from the witnesses and victims, and obtain
opinions from the experts (in the next day or so), the
case will be Sent to the criminal court,where the accused
will have every chance to defend himself, remaining free
on bond ford the duration Of the trial. ~ he was unable
to post bond at the District Attorney's office, he
certainly will have that right in court.
Q: What are the penalties for
A: The prison term is from three days
to five years and applies in all cases resulting in
deaths from automobile accidents.
Q: What happens in a bad
accident when several people are injured and the driver
responsible is intoxicated?
A: If he did not try to flee, there's
a small chance that he will enjoy freedom on bond like
the non-drinker. What happens most of the time is that
the driver who was a little careless will be sentenced to
a year or two, and the driver who was drunk, no more than
two or up to five.
Q: What about payment of
damages,indemnities and compensation for pain and
A: This is important. Our systems
differs from that found in countries with a common-law
tradition. In Mexico if, as a result of an accident a
person is blinded, killed or paralyzed, and property
destroyed or damaged, the monetary compensations that
the guilty person might pay according to the law will be
as follows and no more: (a) actual amount of doctor's
fees in medical expenses (b) actual costs of property
damages destroyed, (c) in case of total paralysis,
blindness or dearth, the total compensation cannot exceed
what the federal labor law sets forth for industrial
accidents and the civil code so rules. In the federal
district, the payment to be awarded to the victim or the
family of the victim will amount to four time the highest
minimum wage, times seven-hundred and thirty days in case
of death, or times one-thousand ninety-five days in case
of total disability, paralysis or blindness.
Q: Can you collect twice
A: If one can break even with
expenses after a car accident, he should be thankful. In
Mexico, with the small amount granted for pain and
suffering and the limited sum to be awarded for salaries,
you barely break even. With respect to hospital bills,
repairs, and other such expenses, if you have two
different polices covering the same risk, you may
collected from both companies. It also can happen, but it
is rare, that you can make the other fellow pay and also
collect from the insurance company. If the other person
is in a position to pay, the insurance company subrogates
to your rights after paying you.
Q: What should you do if your
car is stolen?
A: You should immediately inform your
insurance company. They will assist you in making the
necessary report to the police and in filing a complaint
at the District Attorneys office. If you do not have any
insurance, you will have to do everything yourself. You
must ask for as certified copy of the complaint to use
later if you have to leave Mexico before recovering the
car. It often happens that a car is found several days
later with no radio, no tires, and minus any valuable
equipment that you carried, such as air conditioner, tape
deck, and so on.
The above information is provided as a general and informative background to Mexico, and should not be considered legal advice or your sole source of information. Wherever possible you are encouraged to utilize the services of a professional, such as listed below.