Criminal proceedings start with the suspicion that a crime might have been committed, and they end when the said suspicion is resolved. Suspicion arises when there are concerete signs that an act that is deemed as a crime has been committed in any way. The purpose of criminal proceedings is to remove the suspicion which happens by either confirming or disproving the suspicion.
Criminal proceedings focus on substantial truth rather than procedural truth. In other words, while civil judges are bound by the parties’ claims and the evidence put forward, criminal judges are tasked with shedding light on the exact circumstances of the events and in this respect they have the authority to procure evidence.
While the purpose of criminal proceedings is to discover the substantial truth, there are limits to the judge’s authority to research. The judge has to search for the substantial truth based on the basic principles set out by the law and the constutition. For example; a suspect’s confession cannot be extracted by torture. While the body of a suspect was considered as merely a tool to discover the substantial truth prior to the French revolution, today suspects and defendants are subjects just like the prosecution, with legal and constitutional rights.