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Processes » The Penal Process » The preliminary investigation
Canon 1717. §1 Whenever the Ordinary receives information, which has at least the semblance of truth, about an offence, he is to enquire carefully, either personally or through some suitable person, about the facts and circumstances, and about the imputability of the offence, unless this enquiry would appear to be entirely superfluous.

§2 Care is to be taken that this investigation does not call into question anyone’s good name.

§3 The one who performs this investigation has the same powers and obligations as an auditor in a process. If, later, a judicial process is initiated, this person may not take part in it as a judge.
Canon 1718. §1 When the facts have been assembled, the Ordinary is to decide:

1° whether a process to impose or declare a penalty can be initiated;

2° whether this would be expedient, bearing in mind can. 1341;

3° whether a judicial process is to be used or, unless the law forbids it, whether the matter is to proceed by means of an extra-judicial decree.

§2 The Ordinary is to revoke or change the decree mentioned in §1 whenever new facts indicate to him that a different decision should be made.

§3 In making the decrees referred to in §§1 and 2, the Ordinary, if he considers it prudent, is to consult two judges or other legal experts.

§4 Before making a decision in accordance with §1, the Ordinary is to consider whether, to avoid useless trials, it would be expedient, with the parties’ consent, for himself or the investigator to make a decision, according to what is good and equitable, about the question of harm.
Canon 1719. The acts of the investigation, the decrees of the Ordinary by which the investigation was opened and closed, and all those matters which preceded the investigation, are to be kept in the secret curial archive, unless they are necessary for the penal process.

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