Judicial System in Italy

Judicial System in Italy

Note: for more related information, see the entry on the Italian Criminal Justice System.

1. Administration.

Except for the lowest court level (the
Pretura) with a single judge (Pretore), courts
consist of a judicial panel made up of a number of
stipendiary judges (giudici togati). In the Court
of Assizes and Court of Assizes of Appeal (Corte
d’Assise e nella Corte d’Assise d’Appello) the
judicial panel consists of stipendiary and popular
judges (giudici popolari). There is no jury.

The Pretura. The Pretura is a trial court and
operates in the first stage of legal proceedings.
It has the jurisdiction to try criminal cases
carrying a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison
and cases involving: a) violence or threat to a
public officer; b) insulting a judge at trial; c)
aggravated violation of an official seal; d)
aiding an abetting; e) abuse/maltreatment; f)
aggravated brawl; g) manslaughter (non intentional
homicide); h) aggravated housebreaking; i)
aggaravated theft; l) aggaravated fraud; m)
receiving stolen goods. The prosecution is
conducted by the Public Prosecutor at the Pretura
(Pubblico Ministero presso la Pretura). (Code of
Penal Procedure, Art.7,51).

The Court of Assizes. The Court of Assizes (Corte
d’Assise) has jurisdiction to try crimes carrying
a maximum penalty of 24 years in prison or life
imprisonment, and other serious crimes. The
Prosecution is conducted by the Public Prosecutor
at the Court of Assizes (Pubblico Ministero presso
la Corte d’Assise). (Code of Penal Procedure,

The Tribunal. The Tribunal (Tribunale) has
jurisdiction over all other crimes. The
prosecution is conducted by the Public Prosecutor
of the Tribunal (Pubblico Ministero presso il
Tribunale). The prosecution for organized crime
(Mafia), ransom kidnapping, drug trafficking and
related crimes is conducted by the Anti-mafia
Public Prosecutor. (Procuratore Distrettuale
Antimafia). (Code of Penal Procedure, Art.6,51).

Court of Appeal. Appeals against Tribunal and
Pretura decisions are decided by the Court of
Appeal (Corte d’Appello). Appeals against Court
of Assizes decisions are decided by the Court of
Assizes of Appeal (Corte d’Assise d’Appello). In
the appeal stage, prosecution is conducted by the
Attorney General at the Court of Appeal
(Procuratore Generale presso la Corte di Appello).
(Code of Penal Procedure, Art.51,593-605).

Court of Cassation. The Court of Cassation (Corte
di Cassazione), which is the third stage of
proceedings, decides appeals concerning questions
of formal legitimacy. The Prosecution is
conducted by the Attorney General at the Court of
Cassation (Procuratore Generale presso la Corte di
Cassazione). (Code of Penal Procedure, Art.606).

2. Special Courts.

Juvenile Court. Juvenile criminal courts have
jurisdiction on crimes commited by minors between
14 and 18 years old. The court consists of 2
stipendiary judges and 2 honorary judges
(psychologists or experts in juvenile crime).
There is a Court of Appeal for juveniles, with the
same judicial panel composition for appeals.

3. Judges.

*Number of judges. As of July 21, 1993, there
were 8,174 judges in active service, of which
5,982 were male and 2,192 were female. (Ministry
of Justice).

*Appointment and qualifications. All judges and
prosecutors are non-elective, stipendiary public
officers. A Masters of law degree is a necessary
qualification. They are selected through public
national competitions and begin serving after a
period of training as uditori giudiziari under the
supervision of experienced judges. (Constitution,

Note: this work was completed in 1993


See Also

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal System
  • Criminology
  • Italian Criminal Justice System

Further Reading

  • Cole, George F., S. J. Frankowski, and M. G. Gertz, (1987) Major Criminal Justice Systems. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • David, R. and J. E. Brierley (1968) Major Legal Systems of the World Today. London: Free Press.
  • Fairchild, E. (1993), Comparative criminal justice systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Feeley, Malcolm M. (1973), “Two models of the criminal justice system”. Law and Society Review, 7(3): 407-425.

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