Rights of an Alleged Offender / Defendant in a Criminal Matter

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By: Magna Carta Law Office

A criminal case is a lawsuit brought by a prosecutor employed by the local government which charges a person with the commission of a crime, or by an individual who claims to have been damaged by a criminal act. In Thailand, criminal cases are divided into two categories.

  • Criminal cases that cannot be compromised are initiated by government prosecutors. These are criminal cases that affect the public peace or causes harm to society, the security of the country, are a threat to life, or to public or personal property. This includes serious crimes such as dealing with drugs, deforestation, illegal gambling and corruption.
  • Criminal cases that can be compromised. These are criminal cases that do not affect public peace. They are offenses that affect an individual or a group. Some of these criminal cases include trademark infringement, defamation, fraud, trespassing, copyright matters, etc. The victim must personally file a complaint within the three-month statute of limitations, which runs from the date of knowing the crime and the recognition of the suspect.

Investigation Stage

During this stage, the police will conduct the initial investigation, interview witnesses, collect evidences, and issue a police report. The alleged offender has the following rights:

  • The alleged offender is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a responsible doubt.
  • To have a lawyer represent them in a criminal matter without going through the investigating and prosecuting stage. A judge will consider the case from the evidences and witness’ statements. If the judge decides that there is a sufficient factual basis, he will accept the case for prosecution. The suspect will then defend himself in court. (From this point, he is referred to as the defendant.) In case there is an insufficient factual basis, the judge will dismiss the case.
  • The accused may make a written or oral request to a policeman to meet and consult with his lawyer in private. An alleged offender who cannot afford a lawyer will have a lawyer provided to him at no cost who shall be present with him throughout the investigation stage.
  • It is every foreigner’s right to have an interpreter provided by the police or court to translate or explain the legal procedures.
  • The alleged offender can post bail himself or by a relative, his lawyer or a bailsman.

Court Stage

The Defendant has the following rights:

  • The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a responsible doubt.
  • The defendant has 1 month to appeal to the Appeal Court or to the Supreme Court. This begins from the day that the judgment is read. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is discretionary and not all appealed cases are accepted by the Supreme Court.
  • In case the defendant cannot afford a lawyer and the potential penalty includes imprisonment, or if the defendant is less than 18 years old, the court may appoint lawyers for the case at no cost to the defendant.