Rights of an Alleged Offender / Defendant in a Criminal Matter

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. The claims are usually made at a police station. In Thailand, criminal cases are divided into two categories.

1. Criminal cases that cannot be compromised or settled 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 physical well-being, or to public or personal property. This includes serious crimes such as dealing with drugs, deforestation, illegal gambling and corruption.
2. 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 of individuals. Some of these criminal cases include trademark infringement, defamation by slandering or libel, revealing trade secrets, committing fraud, cheating a creditor, embezzlement, 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 stamp a seal accepting the case for prosecution. The suspect will then defend himself in court. (From this point, he is referred to as the defendant.) If the judge decides that there is an insufficient factual basis, he will dismiss the case.
• To meet and consult with his lawyer in private. The accused may make a written or oral request to a policeman to meet his lawyer at a police station. The suspect will have to name the lawyer with whom he wants to meet. An alleged offender who cannot afford a lawyer will have a lawyer provided to him at no cost.
• For foreigners, it is their right to have an interpreter provided by the police or court to translate or explain the legal procedures.
• To have a lawyer present with them throughout the investigation stage.
• To bail. The alleged offender can post bail himself or it can be done by a relative, his lawyer or a bailsman. The person requesting bail must submit a written request to the investigating officer, who will ask for particular additional documents. The results of the bail review shall be announced within 24 hours.

Court Stage

The Defendant has the following rights:

• The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a responsible doubt.
• The defendant has one month to appeal to the Appeal Court or to the Supreme Court. This time 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 eighteen years old, the court may appoint lawyers for the case at no cost to the defendant.

(Reference: Thai Law for Foreigner)

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