Denuncias (DCH) (Complaints (DCH))
The article analyzes the terms “complaint” and “felony” (or “crime”) establishing their conceptualization, typologies and characteristics, as well as their changes and continuities over time. In early modern times, the complaint was one of the ways in which criminal procedure in canon law could begin; its relevance resulted from its corrective purpose and from the fact that it was the formula most widely used by indigenous people in the New World to initiate criminal proceedings.
The complaint could be judicial, that is, filed before the competent judge whose purpose was to satisfy public happiness. Likewise, a complaint could be extrajudicial. In this latter case, it was a charitable warning, made by a complainant agent, who aimed to privately correct the perpetrator of the criminal conduct. This aspect is fundamental since it distinguished the complaint from other ways to initiate canonical criminal trials and their legal effects. So not every felony reported entailed a public penalty, distinguishing itself from the crimes that were reported.
Regarding the voice “felony”, this article, based on the casuistry of justice forums, judicial discretion and the opinion of the jurists, defines what practices were considered transgressions of order, and therefore felonies. From its delimitation, a typology of felonies has been developed, as well as the penalties or punishments that were applied have been established.