Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are the procedural rules
Criminal procedure
Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated criminal law.-Basic rights:Currently, in many countries with a democratic system and the rule of law, criminal procedure puts the burden of proof on the prosecution – that is, it is up to the...

 that govern how federal criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 prosecutions are conducted in United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s, the general trial courts of the U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. As such, they are the companion to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the...

. The admissibility and use of evidence
Evidence (law)
The law of evidence encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence can be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision and, sometimes, the weight that may be given to that evidence...

 in criminal proceedings (as well as civil) is governed by the separate Federal Rules of Evidence
Federal Rules of Evidence
The is a code of evidence law governing the admission of facts by which parties in the United States federal court system may prove their cases, both civil and criminal. The Rules were enacted in 1975, with subsequent amendments....


Drafting and enactment

The rules are promulgated by the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, pursuant to its statutory authority under the Rules Enabling Act
Rules Enabling Act
The Rules Enabling Act is an Act of Congress that gave the judicial branch the power to promulgate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Amendments to the Act allowed for the creation of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and other procedural court rules...

. The Supreme Court must transmit a copy of its rules to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 no later than May 1 of the year in which they are to go into effect, and the new rule can then become effective no earlier than December 1 of that year.

Congress also retains the power to reject the Court's proposed rules or amendments, to modify them, or to enact rules or amendments itself. It has rarely rejected the Court's proposed amendments, though it has frequently passed its own.

The rules the Supreme Court adopts and transmits are initially drafted by a standing Advisory Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States
Judicial Conference of the United States
The Judicial Conference of the United States, formerly known as Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, was created by the United States Congress in 1922 with the principal objective of framing policy guidelines for administration of judicial courts in the United States...

, which consists of appointed judges, U.S. Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 representatives, practicing lawyers, and legal scholars. After public comment, the draft rules are submitted to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which in turn submits them to the Judicial Conference, which finally recommends them to the Supreme Court for approval. The explanatory notes of the drafting Advisory Committee are published along with the final adopted rules, and are frequently used as an authority on their interpretation.


For the first 150 years of the federal judiciary, there was no uniform federal criminal procedure. The Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary...

 directed federal courts to apply the law of the state in which the court sat regarding jury selection and the process for arrests, bail, and preliminary hearings. The act did not address procedure in other areas, and though subsequent legislation filled in some gaps, Congress never enacted a generally applicable statutory command to observe state criminal procedure, as it had regarding civil procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

 under the Conformity Act. Congress also enacted some specific federal rules, beginning in 1790 with provisions included in the first U.S. federal criminal statutes.

The result was an incomplete patchwork of state and federal law that both the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts did little to fill in, despite seeming authorization under the Judiciary Act to do so. Early Supreme Court cases also fully endorsed congressional authority to enact rules of procedure, and declined the opportunity to directly claim such authority for the courts under Article III of the United States Constitution. A few federal court decisions nonetheless established what amounted to particular federal common law rules of criminal procedure, which added to the lack of conformity in the federal system.

In 1933, Congress authorized the Supreme Court to prescribe rules of criminal appellate procedure, which included any proceeding after the entry of a verdict or plea. Satisfaction with the first Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, enacted in 1938, led to support for uniform criminal rules, and authority to establish rules of general criminal procedure was given to the Supreme Court in 1940, with the Sumners Courts Act. The first Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure were subsequently adopted by order of the Court on December 26, 1944, and took effect on March 21, 1946.

Under the Sumners Courts Act, the U.S. Attorney General was given the responsibility of transmitting the rules to Congress, though this was amended in 1949 to give that duty to the Chief Justice
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

. The turn-around period for the rules becoming effective was originally one full congressional session. This was amended in 1950 to impose the May 1 deadline, but with a 90 day delay in effectiveness. In 1988, authorization for the Rules was incorporated under the Rules Enabling Act, and codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 2072, 2074.

External links

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