Zhengzhou City Detailed Implementation Rules for Pilot Work on the Plea Leniency System in Criminal Cases

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[Note that the term plea leniency system is sometimes used here for the phrase ‘认罪人罚从宽制度‘ (system of leniency for those who admit guilt and accept punishment), and 认罪人罚案件 (cases where guilt is admitted and punishment is accepted) are referred to as ‘plea cases’ although these are not literal translations and are not meant to mislead.]

Chapter I: Goals and Tasks

Chapter I: [sic] Scope and Requirements for Application

Chapter III: Basic Principles

Chapter IV: Litigation participants' rights protections and lawyers' participation

Chapter V: Case Handling in the Investigation phase

Chapter VI: Case Handling in the review for prosecution phase

Chapter VII: Case Handling in the Trial Phase

Chapter VIII: Mechanisms for Speedy Case-handling

Chapter IX: Leniency for Admission of Guilt and Acceptance of Punishment

Chapter X: Time Periods

Chapter XI: Legal Supervision

Chapter XII: Supplementary Provisions

 

Chapter I: Goals and Tasks

Article 1: These Detailed Implementation Measures are formulated on the basis of the "Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China", the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China", and the "Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Authorizing the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate to Carry out Pilot Projects in Some Cities on the System of Leniency for Those Who Admit Guilt and Accept Punishment in Criminal Cases", and the "Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Justice, on carrying out Pilot Projects in Some Cities on the System of Leniency for Those Who Admit Guilt and Accept Punishment in Criminal Cases", in combination with actual conditions in the Zhengzhou pilot region, so as to ensure that the pilot projects on the system of leniency for those who admit guilt and accept punishment in criminal cases are carried out orderly and according to law.

Article 2: The tasks of the pilot efforts on the plea leniency system are to improve criminal procedures, optimize the allocation of judicial resources, increase the quality and efficiency of handling criminal cases, implement the policy of blending leniency and severity, strengthen judicial protections of human rights and other areas, explore theory and practice, and provide detailed data for judicial reform and improving criminal law.

Chapter I: [sic] Scope and Requirements for Application

Article 3: Where criminal suspects or defendants voluntarily and truthfully confess their own criminal conduct, have no objections to the facts of the crime as charged, agree to the sentencing recommendation, and sign an affidavit, they may be given a lenient disposition in accordance with law.

Article 4: Where criminal suspects or defendants voluntarily and truthfully confess their own criminal conduct, have no objections to the facts of the crime as charged, they shall be found to have admitted guilt. The determination of "truthfully confessing their own criminal conduct' is in accordance with the Criminal Law and relevant judicial interpretations.

Article 5: Where criminal suspects or defendants have no objections to the the punishment type, range, and enforcement methods recommended by the procuratorate, and voluntarily pay over fines and ensure enforcement, it shall be found to be acceptance of punishment. Where due to financial hardship they are truly unable to fully pay over fines or temporarily unable to pay fines, it does not impact the determination of 'accepting punishment'.

Article 6: In any of the following circumstances, the plea leniency system is not to be applied:

(1) Where a criminal suspect or defendant is a mentally ill person who has not completely lost the ability to recognize or control his or her behavior;

(2) Where a juvenile criminal suspect or defendant's legally-designated representative or defender objects to the juvenile's admitting guilt and accepting punishment;

(3) Where the criminal suspect or defendant's conduct does not constitute a crime;

(4) Others situations where application would be inappropriate.

Chapter III: Basic Principles

Article 7: The handling of plea cases shall comply with the basic principles of the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law, have the facts as the basis and the laws as their measure, protect criminal suspects or defendants' lawful exercise of the right to a defense and other procedural rights, ensure the lawful rights and interests of victims, preserve the public interest, strengthen oversight and restraint, and ensure that innocent people are not criminally prosecuted and that the guilty receive just punishment, and ensure judicial fairness.

Article 8: The handling of plea cases shall adhere to the following principles:

(1) Truly implement the criminal policy of blending leniency with severity. Fully consider the social harm of crime and the personal dangerousness of the criminal suspect or defendant, together with the specific circumstances of admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment, to determine whether or not to be lenient and the scope of leniency, making it so that those who should be treated leniently are, but those who should be treated severely are treated severely, blending leniency with severity to ensure to legal, social efficacy, and political efficacy of case handling.

(2) Persist in having the penalty suited to the crime. Follow legal provision to submit a sentencing recommendation made on the basis of the facts, nature, circumstances, and consequences of the crime, accurately sentencing, ensuring that the severity of the sentence is commensurate with the criminal conduct committed by the criminal and the responsibility they should bear.

(3) Persist in lawfully collecting evidence and evidence-based rulings. Follow legal provisions to collect, fix, review, and verify evidence. The collection and fixing of key evidence is not abandoned because the criminal suspect or defendant admits guilt; and the standards of evidence and proof are not reduced because the criminal suspect or defendant admits guilt.

(4) Implement systems for judicial accountability. In accordance with the principle of proportionate rights and responsibilities, make those who handle cases responsible for them. Simplify procedures for proceedings and internal approval procedures to increase case handling efficiency. Standardize procedural process and sentencing rules to prevent the occurrence of wrongful criminal judgments and and the abuse of sentencing discretion, and to safeguard the parties' lawful rights and interests.

Chapter IV: Litigation participants' rights protections and lawyers' participation

Article 9: Handling of plea cases shall ensure that criminal suspects or defendants obtain effective legal assistance, ensuring that they understand the nature and legal consequences of the plea, and make the plea voluntarily.

On the basis of the actual needs of people's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs, the legal aid work stations may provide legal assistance in forms such as establishing legal aid work stations with duty lawyers. People's courts, people's procuratorates, and detention centers shall provide duty lawyers with necessary work spaces and office facilities. Those with capacity should provide parking, food and other conveniences,and simplify procedures for meetings, to safeguard duty lawyers lawful performance of their duties. For detention centers with a larger number of suspects in custody, legal aid institutions should appoint two or more duty lawyers, and the lawyers duty office shall be set up in the area for delivery to trial.

Where criminal suspects or defendants who voluntarily admit guilt and accept punishment have not retained a defender, the people's courts, people's procuratorates and public security organs shall notify the legal aid institutions to appoint a duty lawyer to provide them with legal assistance such as legal consultation, selection of procedures, and applications to modify compulsory measures.

The people courts, people's procuratorates and public security organ shall notify criminal suspects or defendants of the right to apply for legal aid. Where the requirements requiring notification of legal aid are met, lawfully notify the legal aid institution to appoint a lawyer to provide them a defense.

Article 10: Where in plea cases the criminal suspect or defendant has not retained a defender or a defender has not been appointed for them, the people's courts, people's procuratorate, or public security organs are to notify the duty lawyer to provide legal assistance to the criminal suspect or defendant, and should deliver the“Written Notification to Provide Legal Assistance in a Plea Case" to the legal aid institution, and may also first give notice by phone. After duty lawyers receive notification, they should promptly provide legal assistance to the criminal suspect or defendant, and submit a "written comments on providing legal assistance in a plea case' to the base handling unit. When criminal suspects sign the affidavit, the duty lawyer should promptly appear at the time and place in accordance with the people's procuratorate's notification.

Legal aid institutions should provide the names and contact information for duty lawyers to the people's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs, to ensure that notifications are promptly served.

When lawyers currently serving as duty lawyers in detention centers meet with criminal suspects or defendants in custody, they should bring their lawyers practice certificate and the "Letter of Introduction for Meeting with a criminal suspect or defendant in a Plea Case" issued by a legal aid institution, but it is not necessary to complete other formalities for meetings, and the the detention center should promptly arrange a meeting.

Article 11: "People's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs, shall make a criminal suspect or defendant's admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment an important factor in considering their dangerousness to society, and for criminal suspects or defendants where there is no dangerousness to society, the criminal suspect or defendant shall be released on guarantee or given residential surveillance in accordance with law.

Article 12: In handling of plea cases, the opinions of the victims or their representatives should be heard, and whether the criminal suspect or defendant has compensated the victims' losses, or reached a settlement agreement with the victims and obtained their forgiveness, is to be an important consideration at sentencing.

Hearing the opinions of victims or their representatives shall usually be done through in person questioning, but where they are remote or the victims are unwilling to be questioned in person, the telephone or other methods may be used for questioning, but this should be noted in the record.

Where victims or their representatives have objections to the people's procuratorates' sentencing recommendation, it should be recorded in the case file; where they are unsatisfied with the judgment of the people's court, they have the right to apply for the people's procuratorate to file a procuratorial counter-appeal in accordance with law.

Chapter V: Case Handling in the Investigation phase

Article 13: During the course of investigation, when conducting the first interrogation, the investigating organs shall inform the criminal suspect of the procedural rights they enjoy and the legal consequences that admitting guilt and accepting punishment might lead to.

Where the criminal suspect expresses that they are willing to admit guilt and accept punishment, the comments of the criminal suspect and his defender or the duty lawyers shall be heard, and where the criminal suspect voluntarily admits his guilt and accept punishment, record and attach this to the case file. Where criminal suspects voluntary admission of guilt helps break the case, the investigating organs may issue a written recommendation for lenient handling. The written recommendation shall explain the reasons for the lenient handling, and list the evidence determined based on the criminal suspect's confession.

Where criminal suspects express willingness to admit guilt and accept punishment to detention center personnel, their defender or the duty lawyer, the relevant personnel shall promptly inform the case handling organ in writing. In cases that will be transferred to be reviewed for prosecution, the investigating organs shall indicate circumstances of the criminal suspects' voluntary admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment in their indictment opinion.

Article 14: Where criminal suspects voluntarily and truthfully confess the facts of the crime they are suspected of, have major meritorious contributions or the case involves major national interests, and the case must be withdrawn, the public security organs handling the case shall report this up to the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Public Security is to request approval from the Supreme People's Praocuratorate.

Chapter VI: Case Handling in the review for prosecution phase

Article 15: People's procuratorates handling plea cases shall review the voluntariness of the criminal suspect's admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment. Where upon review by the people's procuratorate, [it is found that] the criminal suspects admitted guilt and accepted punishment against their will, their statements of admitting guilt and accepting punishment are not to be adopted.

During the review for prosecution, the people's procuratorate shall inform criminal suspects of the procedural rights they enjoy and the legal consequences that admitting guilt and accepting punishment might lead to, and criminal suspects must not be compelled to admit guilt and accept punishment. Where criminal suspects' express that they admit guilt and accept punishment, their defender or the duty lawyer should be informed of the following matters and their comments heard,recorded, and attached to the case file:

(1) The charged crime and the legal provisions applied;

(2) Recommendations for lenient punishment, such as mitigation, commutation, or exemption from punishment;

(3) The procedures applied at trial following the admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment;

(4) Other circumstances where opinions need to be heard.

Where the criminal suspect voluntarily admits guilt and accepts punishment, agrees to the sentencing recommendation, and the applicable procedures, a written affidavit shall be signed with the defender or duty lawyer present, and the defender or duty lawyer shall sign that acknowledgement.

Article 16: Where people's procuratorates submit an indictment to the people's court, they shall clearly indicate circumstances of defendant's admitting guilt and accepting punishment in the indictment, submit a sentencing recommendation, list the factors that might impact sentencing. and simultaneously transfer the defendant's written affidavit and other materials.

Sentencing recommendations shall ordinarily include principle punishments and supplementary punishments, and indicate the means of enforcing the penalty. A relatively explicit sentencing range may be submitted, or a fixed sentencing recommendation may be submitted on the basis of the specific case circumstances. Where financial penalties are recommended, a set amount shall generally be submitted.

Where people's procuratorates recommend a suspended sentence or controlled release, they shall issue explanations of circumstances meeting the requirements for a suspended sentence or controlled release.

Article 17: Where criminal suspects admit guilt and accept punishment, and agree to the people's procuratorate's recommendation to apply the expedited or summary procedures at trial, the people's procuratorate should recommend that the people's court apply those procedures.

Article 18: Where criminal suspects voluntarily and truthfully confess the facts of the crime they are suspected of, have major meritorious contribution or the case involves major national interests, then upon approval from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, people's procuratorates may make a non-prosecution decision, and may also submit a prosecution on one or more of the alleged crimes.

Where there are legally prescribed circumstances for non-prosecution, handle it in accordance with the legal provisions.

Article 19: Where the Supreme People's Procuratorate approves non-prosecution, or in cases where the Ministry of Public Security requests to withdraw a plea case, people's procuratorates and public security organs shall investigate whether property that has been sealed, seized or frozen, and its yields, for the circumstances of its ownership, clarify whether it is unlawful gains, or whether there is other property involved in the case that shall be disgorged in accordance with law. Where persons not involved in the case raise objections to the ownership (title) of property that has been sealed, seized, or frozen, and its yields, they shall be reviewed.

Assets which have been sealed, seized or frozen, or their yields, that are confirmed to be unlawful gains, contraband,or personal property used in the commission of the crime, shall be uniformly handed over and placed in the national treasury within 30 days of the case being withdrawn or a non-prosecution decision being made, except for those that are lawfully returned to the victims. Sealed, seized, or frozen property, and its yields, that cannot be confirmed are unlawful gains or other property involved in the case that should be disgorged, must not be collected.

Chapter VII: Case Handling in the Trial Phase

Article 20: People's courts hearing plea cases shall inform the defendant of the procedural rights they enjoy and the legal consequences that admitting guilt and accepting punishment might lead to; and review the voluntariness of the admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment and the truthfulness and lawfulness of the written plea affidavit.

Article 21: In cases within the jurisdiction of basic level people's courts that might have a sentence of up to 3 years fixed-term imprisonment, where the facts are clear and the evidence is credible and sufficient, where the parties have no disagreement on the applicable law, where the defendant admits guilt and accepts punishment and agrees to applying the expedited procedures, the expedited procedures may be applied, with a single-judge hearing the trial, service not being subject to the time limits in the Criminal Procedure Law, not carrying out court investigation or courtroom debate, and announcing the verdict at court; but before the verdict is announced the final statement of the defendant shall be heard.

Article 22: In any of the following circumstances, do not apply the expedited procedures:

(1) Where the defendant is blind, or deaf and mute

(2) Where the case is difficult, complicated or has major social impact;

(3) Where in a joint crime some of the defendants have objections to the alleged facts, charges, or sentencing recommendation;

(4) Where the defendant and victims, or their legally-designated representatives, have not reached a mediation or settlement agreement on compensation for attached civil suits;

(5) the defendant's breach of bail, surveillance provisions, seriously affecting the normal criminal activity;

(6) the application of expedited procedures procedures is otherwise inappropriate.

Article 23: In cases within the jurisdiction of basic level people's courts that might have a sentence more than 3 years fixed-term imprisonment, where the defendant admits guilt and accepts punishment,and agrees to the application of the summary procedures, the summary procedures may be lawfully applied at trial, but the defendants' final statement shall be heard before the judgment is announced. Where the simplified procedures are applied, the verdict shall generally be announced at court.

Article 24: Where people's courts are applying the expedited procedures or summary procedures in hearing plea leniency cases, they shall be transferred for trial under ordinary procedures in any of the following circumstances:

(1) The defendant admitted guilt and accepted punishment against his wishes;

(2) the defendant denies the alleged criminal facts;

(3) The defendant does not agree to apply the expedited or summary procedures;

(4) other circumstances where the expedited procedures or summary procedures should not be applied at trial.

Article 25: Where defendants admit guilt and accept punishment, but do not agree to apply the expedited or summary procedures at trial, it does not impact the determination of the defendants' admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment.

Article 26: When the people's court lawfully makes a judgment in a plea case, the charges and sentencing recommendation of the people's procuratorate are usually adopted, except in the following circumstances:

(1) The defendant has not constituted a crime or should not be pursued for criminal responsibility;

(2) The defendant admitted guilt and accepted punishment against his wishes;

(3)The defendant denies the alleged criminal facts;

(4) the charge in the indictment and the charge verified at trial are not the same;

(5) Other situations that might impact the fairness of trial.

Article 27: Where through trial, people's courts find that the people's procuratorate's sentencing recommendation is clearly improper, or where the defendant or defender raises objections to the sentencing recommendation, the people's court may recommend the people's procuratorate adjust its sentencing recommendation, and if the people's procuratorate does not agree to adjust the sentencing recommendation, or if after adjustment of the sentencing recommendation the defendant and defender still have objections, the people's court shall make a judgment in accordance with law.

Article 28: Second-instance trial courts may choose not to hold in-court proceedings for appeals submitted by defendants unsatisfied with the judgment of a first-instance trial that applied the expedited procedures. Where through trial it is found that the facts verified and law applied in the original judgment are correct and the sentence is proper, the appeal shall be rejected and the original judgment maintained; where the facts verified in the original judgment are not in error, but the law was applied incorrectly or the sentence is improper, the judgment shall be changed; where the facts in the original judgment are unclear or the evidence insufficient, a ruling shall be made to revoke the original judgment and remand to the original people's court for new trial using the ordinary procedures.

Article 29: Where defendants do not admit guilt during the first-instance trial procedures, but do so during the second-instance trial,the second-instance trial court may include the admission of guilt in sentencing considerations.

Chapter VIII: Mechanisms for Speedy Case-handling

Article 30: In cases where the defendant admits guilt and accepts punishment that apply the expedited procedures or summary procedures at trial, where the public security organs have already completed formalities for release on guarantee, and upon review, the people's procuratorate and people's court find that the conditions for release on guarantee are met, the formalities need not be completed again.

Article 31: In cases applying the expedited procedures where the criminal suspect might be sentenced to short-term detention (not including suspended sentences), the investigating organs may extend custody to be as long as 7 days. Where during the custody period, the investigating organs conclude the investigation within 3 days and find that the facts are clear and the evidence is credible and sufficient, and that the requirements are met for applying the expedited procedures to handle the case, then upon communicating with the people's procuratorate, they may transfer the case to the people's procuratorate to be reviewed for prosecution.

Where after people's procuratorates accept a case, they find that the case is eligible for applying the expedited procedures, and the criminal suspect agrees to the sentencing recommendation (not including suspended sentences), they should complete review within 2 days and submit the indictment to the people's court. Where criminal suspects do not agree with the sentencing recommendation or review is not completed within 2 days, the people's procuratorate shall modify compulsory measures.

Where after people's courts accept a case, they find that the case is eligible for applying the expedited procedures, , they should complete trial within 2 days and submit the indictment to the people's court. Where trial is not completed within 2 days, compulsory measures should be modified.

Chapter IX: Leniency for Admission of Guilt and Acceptance of Punishment

Article 32: In plea cases where there are no legally prescribed commutation factors, a light sentence shall be given within the legal prescribed scope of penalties. Where the offence is slight and does not need to be punished, criminal punishment may be waived; where it is truly necessary to give a punishment below the legally prescribed penalty, it shall be reported up to the Supreme People's Court for review and approval.

Article 33: The scope of lenient punishment may be adjusted on the basis of what procedural phase the defendant admitted guilt and accepted punishment in and the specific case circumstances. Where defendants admit guilt and accept punishment in the investigation phase, giving a definite amount of assistance to the investigating organs in collecting evidence, the scope of leniency may be controlled at up to 50%; where they admit guilt and accept punishment in the review for prosecution phase, the scope of leniency may be controlled at up to 30%; where the admit guilt and accept punishment in the trial phase, appropriate leniency may be generally given, but in principle the scope of leniency is to be within 10%.

Where for objective reasons a portion of the evidence cannot be collected and the criminal suspect or defendant has not truthfully confessed during the investigation phase, but admits guilt and accepts punishment during the review for prosecution or trial phases, and their confession is key evidence, the people's procuratorate or people's court may appropriately increase the scope of leniency.

Article 34: Where criminal suspects or defendants pay over fines, return stolen goods, compensate victims' losses, or reach a settlement with the victims or obtain the victims' forgiveness, the scope of leniency should be appropriately increased.

Article 35: Where criminal suspects or defendants that have circumstances allowing for commutation of their sentence, emphasize their criminal methods and degree of social dangerousness when considering commutation. Where they have circumstances requiring commutation of their sentence, the scope of commutation may be appropriately increased.

Article 36: Admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment may be an independent sentencing circumstance, with a lenient disposition made in accordance with paragraph 3 of article 67 of the Criminal Law. Where admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment is considered as a sentencing circumstance, the circumstance of 'coming clean' is not considered as well.

Chapter X: Time Periods

Article 37: In cases using the expedited procedures, people's procuratorates shall usually make a decision on indictment within 10 days of accepting the case; an extension to 15 days may be given where a sentence of more than 1 year imprisonment might be given.

People's courts shall usually complete trial within 10 days, but an extension to 15 days may be given where a sentence of more than 1 year imprisonment might be given.

Article 38: Plea cases applying the expedited procedures or summary procedures, or where the expedited procedures or summary procedures are converted into ordinary procedures, are to be handled in accordance with the time limits of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Chapter XI: Legal Supervision

Article 39: People's procuratorates shall strengthen supervision of each procedural activity in plea cases. Where the people's courts do not accept the people's procuratorates' charges and sentencing recommendation, and the people's procuratorate feels there is true error, it shall submit a procuratorial counter-appeal to the people's court.

Article 40: Where in the course of handling plea cases, personnel of people's courts,people's procuratorate, public security organs have situations of extortion of confessions by torture, gathering evidence through violence, or selling power for money, going easy on criminals, or other situations of abusing power or twisting the law for personal gain; where a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility is pursued in accordance with law, where not crime is constituted, lawfully give an administrative sanction or disciplinary sanction.

Article 41: Staff of people's courts people's procuratorates, public security organs, or legal aid lawyers are not pursued for responsibility for their handling of plea cases absent intent or gross negligence.

Chapter XII: Supplementary Provisions

Article 42: Apply these Measures' provisions related to public security organs where the state security organs handle plea cases in accordance with law.

Article 43: Establish coordination mechanisms for plea leniency system pilot work, strengthen coordination and communication, and form a collaborative work force. People's courts, people's procuratorates, public security bureaus, state security bureaus, justice bureaus, and lawyers associations are to convene joint conferences at appropriate times, to jointly research and resolve issues of policy understanding and application of law that appear in pilot work.

Establish systems for data statistics and analysis in pilot work, periodically making concurrent reports to the competent operational department at the level above and the political legal committee of the same level.

Article 44: People's courts, people's procuratorates, public security bureaus, and justice bureaus shall draft measures on special performance reviews for pilot work, and pilot work is not subject to restrictions of that units performance appraisals and evaluations and internal management provisions.

Strengthen organizational safeguards and funding guarantees, and those with capacity may establish specialized bodies and apply for special funds.

Article 45: In the handling plea cases, where these Measures have relevant provisions, enforcement is in accordance with those provisions; where these Measures have no provisions, apply the relevant provisions of the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law.

Article 46: Relevant provisions from the previous expedited procedures pilot projects may be consulted in implementation, except where these Implementation Measures have other provisions.

Article 47: These detailed measures are provisionally implemented in the Zhengzhou region, and are to be abolished at the conclusion of pilot work.

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