Plea Agreement in Serbian Criminal Law: Legal Guide


Introduction to the Plea Agreement

The plea agreement, regulated by Article 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) of Serbia, is a crucial mechanism in the Serbian criminal justice system. This process allows for the efficient resolution of criminal cases through negotiations between the prosecution and the defense, ultimately saving time and judicial resources.

Concluding a Plea Agreement

According to Article 313, a plea agreement can be concluded between the public prosecutor and the defendant from the moment an investigation order is issued until the end of the main trial. It is mandatory for the defendant to have a defense attorney throughout the process, as specified in Article 74, Item 8 of the CPC.

Once a plea agreement is reached, it is submitted in writing by the public prosecutor to the preliminary hearing judge before the indictment is confirmed, or to the presiding judge after the indictment is confirmed. If the agreement is concluded before the indictment, the prosecutor submits the agreement along with the indictment, which becomes an integral part of the agreement. The indictment examination procedures outlined in Articles 337-341 do not apply in this case.

Contents of the Plea Agreement

Article 314 CPC outlines the essential and optional elements of a plea agreement. The agreement must include:

  1. A description of the criminal offense.
  2. The defendant’s admission of committing the offense.
  3. An agreement on the type, measure, or range of the penalty.
  4. An agreement on the costs of the criminal proceedings, confiscation of illicitly obtained assets, and the civil claim, if submitted.
  5. A statement from the parties and defense attorney waiving the right to appeal the decision fully accepting the agreement, except as provided in Article 319, Paragraph 3 of the CPC.
  6. Signatures of the parties and the defense attorney.

Optional elements may include a statement from the public prosecutor to drop charges for offenses not covered by the plea agreement or a statement from the defendant accepting certain obligations.

Decision on the Plea Agreement

The decision on the plea agreement is made by the preliminary hearing judge or the presiding judge if the agreement is submitted after the indictment is confirmed. A hearing is held without the presence of the public, and the prosecutor, defendant, and defense attorney are all invited.

Acceptance of the Plea Agreement

The court will accept the plea agreement by a verdict if it determines:

  1. The defendant consciously and voluntarily admitted to the criminal offense(s) that are the subject of the indictment.
  2. The defendant is aware of all consequences of the concluded agreement, particularly the waiver of the right to a trial and the acceptance of limited appeal rights as per Article 319, Paragraph 3 of the CPC.
  3. There is evidence supporting the defendant’s admission.
  4. The penalty or other measure agreed upon by the prosecutor and the defendant is in accordance with the law.

Rejection of the Plea Agreement

The court will reject the plea agreement by a ruling if:

  1. It finds reasons specified in Article 338, Paragraph 1 of the CPC.
  2. One or more conditions outlined in Article 317, Paragraph 1 of the CPC are not met.

If the ruling becomes final, the plea agreement and all related documents are destroyed in the presence of the judge who made the ruling, and the procedure reverts to the stage preceding the agreement. The judge involved in this decision cannot participate in the subsequent proceedings.

Appeal Against the Decision on the Plea Agreement

Article 319 states that the court’s decision on the plea agreement is communicated to the public prosecutor, the defendant, and the defense attorney. Appeals are not allowed against the rulings rejecting (Article 316) or refusing (Article 318) the plea agreement. However, an appeal against a verdict accepting the plea agreement (Article 317) can be filed within eight days of receiving the verdict, based on the grounds specified in Article 338, Paragraph 1 of the CPC, or if the verdict does not address the subject of the agreement (Article 314).


The plea agreement is a vital tool for enhancing the efficiency of the Serbian criminal justice system. Proper implementation of this mechanism can significantly expedite criminal proceedings and provide fair outcomes for all parties involved. Understanding the legal framework and the essential elements of plea agreements is crucial for legal professionals navigating the complexities of criminal trial.

For a detailed understanding of how the regular criminal procedure typically works in Serbia, including the investigation phase, indictment process, and trial stages, click on this comprehensive guide. This resource provides valuable insights into each step of the process, ensuring you are well-informed about the legal framework and procedural nuances of the Serbian criminal justice system.

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