Differences between Thai and Western Criminal Courts

by admin on June 4, 2013

 There are many different ways a foreigner may become embroiled in Thailand’s criminal legal system during their stay in the country. Thailand criminal attorneys, Chaninat and Leeds explain that one of the biggest practical obstacles facing foreigners who are either victims of crime  or who might be family members of foreigners accused of committing crimes in Thailand who as a result find themselves involved in Thailand Criminal Law, is a lack of understanding of how Thailand’s criminal justice system may differ to that of their own country.

There are three important differences between Western and Thai courts in the criminal law cases:

1. The Right of a Jury Trial?

A right to a jury trial is a key component of Western criminal courts,  however there is no similar right to a trial by jury  in Thailand. A judge decides the outcome of Thai criminal cases. This in itself can can create different issues to think about may impact on the way the attorneys choose to argue the case. Juries may well be more sympathetic and persuaded by emotional arguments rather than a judge who hears the same defenses over and over again.    

2. Plea Bargainning

Plea bargainning is a commonly used tool during a Western criminal trial. However no such prosecution and defense negotiations exist in Thailand. During the initial investigation the Thai police decide what evidence and charges to send to the prosecution, or the court itself can reduce the criminal charges once it has heard the evidence.

3. Private Criminal Prosecutions

In Western courts, once charges have been filed, the victim is usually the key Prosecution witness. This is also the case in Thailand, but it is also possible in Thailand to file criminal charges privately if certain other conditions are also satisfied, meaning charges may be filed by aggrieved individuals directly. Although this allows the victim more flexibility, it means criminal defendants will face two potential plaintiffs – the prosecutor and the victim.

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