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Dominican Republic: Penal Law and Procedure
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Internal Security and Public Order > The Criminal Justice System > Penal Law and Procedure


After independence the country adopted the French penal and criminal proceedings codes that had been in use during the Haitian occupation. Spanish translations were mandated by law in 1867. As of 1989, the most recent codes, adaptations of the original French documents to local traditions, had been adopted in 1884.

The 1884 Penal Code was composed of four books containing 487 articles. The first book dealt with penalties for crimes and provided for exile, imprisonment, temporary confinement, loss of civil rights, and assessment of fines. The death penalty -- carried out by firing squad -- was abolished in 1924 in favor of a maximum penalty of thirty years' imprisonment at forced labor. The second book dealt with criminal responsibility and liability, addressing such issues as mental competence, self-defense, and the ages at which perpetrators incur adult liability. The third book dealt with various felonies and misdemeanors, and it established punishments for each. The fourth book covered infractions of police regulations and their penalties.

The Code of Criminal Procedure consisted of two books. The first set forth rules governing the role of the police in judicial proceedings. The second established various practices for dealing with accused criminals; it provided for the involvement of different judicial bodies, according to the severity of the crime.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Dominican Republic was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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