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Criminal defence in China

The Chinese criminal code provides for a large number of offences punishable by death

The massive immigration of Chinese people to European cities and the investment of companies in the eastern nation has forced International Lawyers Associates to gear up, providing clients with a network of partners in the country’s top 20 cities: from Shanghai to Beijing, from Hong Kong to Tientsin and Wuhan, International Lawyers Associates is the best firm for your legal defence in China.

In recent times, China has implemented a remarkable opening towards the international community, with a modernisation of the legal system. Three concepts have been enshrined that revolutionise the Chinese legal approach: the inheritance of other forms of law, especially Roman law; the social significance of the latter from a market perspective; and its rationality even if a socialist state would not allow it. Based on these assumptions, Chinese jurists strive to harmonise their system with the Romanistic and European system predominant in the international arena.

Our lawyers have generally been involved in this country in assisting captains of industry and persons interested in financial investment in the country, including for import-export purposes. This assistance has taken place in and out of court, always with the unfailing and necessary assistance of local partners, who for technical and cultural reasons are always indispensable.

ILA: experienced criminal defence lawyers in the People's Republic of China

The Chinese Criminal Code, which can also be consulted on the Internet, provides for a large number of offences punishable by the death penalty: since 2004, the Chinese judiciary has issued no less than 6,000 death sentences, of which 3,500 have been carried out.

International Lawyers Associates deals with criminal defence in the People’s Republic of China also and above all in the many cases where capital punishment is provided for.

We consider it important to publish the list of offences involving the death penalty.

List of capital punishment offences in China

  • Felony murder (art. 232),
  • Financial crimes punishable by death penalty:
  • Bribery (art.383)
  • Abuse of office (art. 383)
  • Embezzlement (art.383)
  • Resale of tax receipts (art. 206)
  • Tax evasion (art. 205)
  • Financial counterfeiting (art. 170
  • Speculation

Fraud (art. 192)

  • Financial or insurance fraud (art. 194)
  • Credit card fraud (art. 195)
  • Extortion
  • Blackmail
  • Smuggling (art.151)

Offences against the State in China

  • Colluding with foreign states to undermine the state (art. 102)
  • Attempting to separate the state (art. 103)
  • Armed revolt against the state (art. 104)
  • Defection to the enemy (art. 108)
  • Espionage (art. 110)
  • Revealing, acquiring or stealing State secrets (art. 111)
  • Providing the enemy with weapons or military equipment in time of war (art. 112)
  • Joining secret associations for subversive purposes
  • Subversion

Offences against property, punishable with the death penalty in China

  • Robbery (art. 263)
  • Theft of large property (there was an execution for theft of 60 yuan [€7.85] on 28 September 1998) (Art. 264)
  • Habitual theft
  • Using telephone lines or public transport with evidence that they are stolen
  • Theft of communication lines for profit
  • Reproduction of telephone codes for profit
  • Burglary or trespassing

Other offences punishable by death in China

  • Causing destruction of public or private property (art. 115)
  • Escaping from prison (art. 317)
  • Spreading poison (art. 115)
  • Selling or manufacturing harmful or fake food, toxic alcohol or fake medicine with serious consequences for consumers (art. 141)
  • ale or manufacture of false or harmful products (added in 2003)
  • Production or exhibition of pornographic material (uncensored or without state authorisation)
  • Causing explosions (art. 115)
  • Possession, sale or manufacture of weapons, ammunition or explosives (art. 125)
  • Gambling (although legal in Macao Special Administrative Region)
  • Bigamy
  • Obstruction of public order
  • Disturbing the lives of citizens

Using dangerous methods causing death or serious injury (art. 115)

Arson (art. 115)

Lechery (i.e. organisation, coercion, inducement, introduction, protection or exploitation of prostitution) (added by Supreme People’s Court in July 1990, confirmed by the 1997 Criminal Code with Article 358)

Hooliganism (allegedly reintroduced)

Hunting of protected species

Coming out of quarantine while having SARS or spreading the virus

Revelation or theft of state secrets via the Internet (added in January 2001)

Computer piracy

Drug-related offences (art. 347)

Procedures and types of punishment

There are two types of death sentences in China:

  • immediate: after the death sentence, one has 3 to 10 days to obtain a pardon, the execution takes place no more than a week after the possible rejection of the petition. Executions generally take place at 10 a.m. This type of sentence is the most widely applied.
  • suspended for two years: this provides for execution to be suspended for two years: if the convicted person does not commit any other crime during this time, the sentence is commuted to life imprisonment or another custodial sentence.

As for the methods of execution, there are two: shooting, which is the most widely applied, and lethal injection. The execution is often collective, in the sense that several convicts are shot at the same time.

Lethal injection was introduced in the 1997 penal code because it was considered more humane and less brutal than shooting. Today, the number of executions by lethal injection is almost equalling that of shootings. Some journalistic reports have pointed out that there is a death chamber set up on a specially equipped van produced by the Chinese Iveco factories, which, travelling throughout the country, would allow sentences to be carried out using a mobile structure, with considerable cost savings (detail reported by the Rai 3 programme Report)

As regards criminal defence in China, the coordinator of the international trial area, lawyer Alexandro Maria Tirelli, establishes mission costs, also in compliance with a memorandum of understanding and monitoring with the diplomatic authority of the detainee’s country of origin.