Judicial process shall be deemed to have been instituted only whenever formal charges and specifications, as defined herein, have been filed with the clerk of the body of which the accused is a member, and the body, after having heard the charges read, decides that there is reasonable ground to support the charges.
No charge of an offense shall be admitted if it is brought more than two years after the commission of the alleged offense, or unless the charge alleges grave heresy and it can be proved that the expression of heretical teaching is still proceeding either orally or in written or printed form.
A charge of an offense may be brought by an injured party, by a person not an injured party, or by a court of the church.
Every charge of an offense must be presented to the court in writing. Every charge must set forth the alleged offense together with the specifications of the facts relied upon to sustain the charge. Each specification shall declare, as far as possible, the time, place, and circumstances of the alleged offense, and shall be accompanied with the names of any witnesses and the titles of any documents to be produced.
Offenses are either private or public. Private offenses are those known to an individual only, or, at most, to a very few persons. Public offenses are those which are notorious and scandalous.
No charge of a private offense shall be admitted unless the court has assured itself that the course set forth by our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 has been faithfully followed.
Every person about to present a charge shall be solemnly warned by the court that he may be censured if the charge is not substantiated by such evidence as will establish reasonable proof of guilt.
If allegations of an offense, not framed as formal charges and specifications are presented to the court of jurisdiction, it shall conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether judicial process shall be begun. If the preliminary investigation is conducted by a committee appointed for that purpose, i,. findings shall be reviewed by the court. The court or committee, as the case may be, shall consider the respectability and presumptive credibility of the witnesses to be produced, and shall examine the papers submitted to it to determine whether, if charges and specifications were prepared on the basis of such papers, their proof would show the commission of an offense. If, after a consideration of all of the foregoing factors, the court decides that judicial process may be instituted, it shall cause formal charges and specifications to be prepared and shall fix a time for the trial of the case.