Criminal defense lawyer

China Criminal Court System


The Chinese court system is based on a civil law system that was modeled off of Soviet legal principles. All Chinese laws are organized in a Criminal Code that contains all of the regulations and rules that are used to interpret criminal law.

The court system in China has four levels. The courts, in descending order are: the Supreme People’s Court, the Higher People’s Courts, the Intermediate People’s Courts, and the Basic People’s Courts. The People’s Supreme Court is solely supervisory in function and oversees the lower courts. The Higher People’s Court conducts hearings for major civil and criminal cases that are located within a province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the authority of the government. The Higher People’s Court is also allowed to retry cases that have been appealed by the Intermediate People’s Court. The Intermediate People’s Court tries cases that involve counterrevolutionary crimes, life imprisonments, the death penalty, and situations involving foreigners.


Jury Rules in China


In Chinese criminal cases, defendants do not have the right to a jury trial. In the situation of a homicide case, however, the verdict is delivered by a commission of the president, vice presidents, division chiefs, and other leading authorities of the court. This procedure is of particular irritation to lawyers who point out that those deciding the case are the people least familiar with the case.

Defendants’ rights in China Criminal Law


The Chinese Constitution, which was amended in 2003, does not have legal authority in court decisions. Nevertheless, Article 37 of the Constitution states that the freedom of Chinese citizens is absolute, that no one may be arrested without the approval of a public security office, and that no one may be unlawfully detained. Since the Chinese Constitution is not self-executing though, these rights do not necessarily protect citizens.


China Criminal Law Pre-trial Stages


Once a criminal case has been filed against an individual, they are required to make a compelled appearance, or Ju Chuan. In this case, the defendant must report to the police station where they may be required to stay for up to 12 hours of questioning. During this time, the defendant does not have the right to legal counsel or communication with anyone. Only after the questioning has been completed is the defendant informed of his right to legal counsel. Despite this, the lawyer is still not entitled to help the suspect prepare a defense case, but may only provide legal support and advice.


All Chinese suspects must be interrogated within 12 hours of their arrest or detention. Before posing any questions to the suspect, the police are required to ask him whether or not he has committed a crime and the circumstances of the situation. Chinese law additionally prohibits the use of torture or other methods of obtaining evidence, but does not exempt evidence that has been illegally obtained. This means that confessions obtained under torture or duress can be used in court even though torture itself is technically not legal. 

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