Sadly it is easy for a foreigner to become involved in Thailand's criminal law process during their time in Thailand, even if it is inadvertent. Thailand criminal attorneys, Chaninat and Leeds explain that one of the practical obstacles facing individuals who find themselves for whatever reason involved in Thailand Criminal Law be it as victims of crime or family members of foreigners accused of committing crimes in Thailand, is a lack of understanding of how Thailand’s criminal justice system may differ to that of their own country
There are three main differences between Western and Thai courts in the criminal law cases:
1. Judge or Jury Trial?
Trial by jury is a well known procedure used during Western criminal trials, however there is no similar right in Thailand. Instead, a judge is responsible for listening to all of the evidence and arguments and then deciding the outcome of Thai criminal cases. This could change the way the attorneys prepare and present the case. Perhaps juries may be more sympathetic and open to accepting emotional arguments rather than a judge who is well versed in the law.
2. Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining is a common during a Western criminal trial, but in direct contrast, no plea bargaining happens in Thailand. The police play a far greater role in Thailand than in Western Courts. It is their decision what evidence and charges to send to the prosecution once they have undertaken their initial investigation. It is also open to the Thai court to reduce the level of criminal charges following an examination of the evidence.
3. Private Criminal Prosecutions
In Western courts, once charges have been filed, the victim is usually the key Prosecution witness. The same thing happens in Thailand, but it is additionally possible to file private criminal charges as long as other conditions are satisfied. Whilst this provides the victim with added flexibility, it means the accused individual will face two potential plaintiffs - the prosecutor and the victim.
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