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Criminal Defense in China

27 August 2012 By In Criminal Defense

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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. However, in my experience, as a China criminal defense lawyer, there are many other judicial interpretations that are not included in the code buy still serve as good source of law cited by criminal judges.

There is no special criminal court system in China. Most criminal cases are heard in first instance court, while serious crimes that potentially lead to life imprisonment or death penalty will be heard by the Intermediate People's Court.

China court system overview

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.

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.

Formalities of retaining a China criminal defense lawyer

For foreigners who have been detained by the police, it is important that they understand the process of how to appoint a lawyer to act on behalf of them while they are being detained.
A foreigner who becomes detained has a right to demand to meet a China lawyer (not a foreign lawyer) from his country's embassy in China.  The police or government authorities will contact his embassy and inform the embassy about the detention. An embassy Counselor would then meet with the detained person, and receive instructions from him or her about any friends or family members that they have in China that could find a lawyer for them. The China lawyer would then communicate with the family or friends and instruct them to find a lawyer on behalf of the detained foreigner.
The family or friends of the suspects would approach a law firm and ask the firm to take the case on. Following this, the law firm would approach the embassy and fill out a "Power of Attorney" form with the Consulate. The "Power of Attorney" form gives the law firm the right to start communicating with the government authorities on behalf of the detained foreigner. Based on that form, the law firm can then meet with the detained foreigner to represent them in the legal proceedings.

Read 3392 times Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 04:32
Shenzhen Lawyer

A Shenzhen lawyer practicing in one of the best Shenzhen law firms handle commercial and family law matters across the country. Free preliminary legal consultation. Tel: +86 188 19019636. Email: peterzhulaw@hotmail.com

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