Criminal FAQ

Under the Continental law (different from common law) inherited from German and france, crimes are divided into two main categories - felonies and misdemeanors. The distinction between them is based on the crime's seriousness and on the length of punishment.

  • Felonies are crimes generally punishable by more than one year's imprisonment. You have the right to a jury trial when charged with a felony crime. The common law felonies include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and treason.
  • Misdemeanors are crimes generally punishable by less than one year's imprisonment. You have the right to a jury trial when charged with a misdemeanor if the crime is considered serious enough to warrant a jury trial.

China law classifies crimes by felony / misdemeanor and then degree. There are five degrees of felony crimes: capital, life, first, second, and, third degree. Capital felonies, punishable by death, include the most serious crimes like murder and sexual battery on a child less than twelve years of age. Life felonies are punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment and include burglary with a battery, certain trafficking offenses, and second degree murder. A first degree felony is punishable by a maximum of thirty years in prison, a second degree felony-- fifteen, and a third degree felony--five years. Misdemeanors are either first or second degree. A first degree misdemeanor, like simple battery for example, is punishable by a maximum of one year in the county jail. A second degree misdemeanor is punishable by sixty days maximum.

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