Title: Opinions on Advancing the Reform of Making Criminal Procedure System Trial-Centered Promulgating Entities: Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security et al. Reference number: Promulgation Date: 2016-10-10 Expiration date: Source of text: http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2016-10/10/c_1119686001.htm
Opinions on Advancing the Reform of Making Criminal Procedure System Trial-Centered
Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Justice Opinions on Advancing the Reform of Making Criminal Procedure System Trial-Centered
This Opinion is formulated based on the provisions of the Constitution and laws, in combination with the actual circumstances of judicial work, so as to implement the relevant requirements of the "CCP Central Committee Decision Concerning Several Major Issues In Comprehensively Advancing Governance According To Law," and to advance the reform of making criminal procedure system trial-centered.
I. No person may be found guilty except by the lawful judgment of a people's court. People's courts, people's procuratorates and public security organs handling criminal cases shall divide labor and responsibilities, cooperate with each other, and restrain each other, so as to ensure the accurate and prompt investigation of criminal facts, the correct application of law, the punishment of criminals, and ensure that those who are not guilty are not subject to criminal prosecution.
II. Strictly Follow the Legal Provisions Requirements on Evidence Rulings, criminal facts must not be affirmed where there is no evidence. The completion of investigation by investigating organs, the submission of indictments by the people's procuratorates, and the issuance of guilty judgments by people's courts shall all be done so that the criminal facts are clear, and the evidence credible and sufficient.
Investigating organs and people's procuratorates shall follow the requirements and standards of rulings to collect, fix, review, and use evidence; people's courts shall follow the legally prescribed procedures to verify evidence, and make judgments in accordance with law.
In guilty verdicts issued by the people's courts, all evidence from the entire case taken together shall exclude reasonable doubt for facts proving elements establishing the crime; where there is doubt as to sentencing evidence, a determination shall be made in favor of the defendant.
III. Establish and complete evidence gathering guidelines that meet the requirements of judgments and are adapted to the characteristics of all kinds of cases. Explore the establishment of systems for audio and video recording of inspections, searches, identifications, and accusations, and other such procedures in homicide and other major cases. Improve rules for the transfer, review, courtroom inquiry, use of evidence from technical investigations and the procedures for its verification outside of court. Integrate standards and procedures for forensic evaluations. Improve the authenticating witness system.
IV. investigating organs shall fully, objectively, and promptly collect evidence relevant to the case.
Investigating organs shall gather evidence in accordance with law. Testimonial evidence gathered through unlawful methods such as the extortion of confessions by torture, violence or threats, shall be excluded in accordance with law. Where investigating organs' gathering of physical or documentary evidence is not in accordance with legally prescribed procedures and might seriously influence judicial fairness, and cannot be corrected or reasonably explained; it shall be excluded in accordance with law.
For tangible evidence such as physical and documentary evidence, the original item or document shall generally be extracted, to ensure the authenticity of the evidence. Where evaluation is necessary, it shall be promptly submitted. Where there are conflicts between evidence, they shall be promptly investigated and verified. All evidence shall be kept properly and transferred with the case.
V. Improve interrogation systems to prevent extortion of confessions by torture, no person may compelled to affirm his own guilt. Strictly follow the requirements of relevant provisions to interrogation criminal suspects in standard interrogation venues. Strictly follow legal provisions to make synchronous audio-video recordings of the entire interrogation process, gradually implementing a process of synchronous recording of interrogations in all cases.
Explore establishing a system for conducting a verification of the legality of the interrogation process prior to the conclusion of investigation. In major cases investigated by the public security organs, national security organs, and people's procuratorates, the people's procuratorates' procurator based in the detention center is to question the criminal suspect to verify whether there was extortion of confessions by torture or circumstances of illegal evidence gathering, and are to make a synchronous recording. Where upon verification, there is, in fact, extortion of confessions by torture or circumstances of illegal evidence gathering, the investigating organs shall promptly exclude the illegal evidence, and it must not be the basis of a request for approval of arrest or for transferring the case to be reviewed for indictment.
VI. Where prior to the completion of a case's investigation, the criminal suspect submits a not-guilty defense or defense that the crime was minor, or the defense lawyer submits an opinion that the criminal suspect is not guilty or should not be prosecuted for criminal liability in accordance with law, the investigating organs shall verify it in accordance with law.
VII. Perfect systems for supplementing investigation. Further clarify the requirements for returning cases for supplementary investigation, establishing guidelines for people's procuratorates' return of cases for supplemental investigation and mechanisms for explaining the reasoning, clarifying the direction, standards, and requirements for supplementing investigation. Standardize supplemental investigatory conduct; for matters that truly cannot be ascertained, public security organs and state security organs shall make a written explanation to the people's procuratorate. Where after the second return for supplemental investigation, the evidence is still insufficient and does not meet the requirements for indictment, a decision to not prosecute is made in accordance with law.
VIII. Further improve mechanisms for public prosecutions; the people's procuratorate bears the burden of proving the defendant's guilt. Where the defendant does not admit guilt, the people's procuratorate shall strengthen pretrial preparation and in-court questioning, presentation of evidence, and debate of evidence.
IX. Improve the system for non-prosecutions; in cases that do not meet the legally prescribed standard of proof, the people's procuratorate shall make a non-prosecution decision in accordance with law, preventing cases where the facts are unclear and the evidence is insufficient from entering the trial procedure. Improve the system for withdrawing a prosecution, standardizing the requirements and procedures for withdraw a prosecution.
X. Improve the pretrial conference procedure, for cases tried using the ordinary procedures, complete systems for the pretrial presentation of evidence, and hearing opinions on the list of witnesses to appear in court, the exclusion of illegal evidence, and other areas.
XI. Standardize procedures for court investigation, to ensure that evidence is presented in court, and that case facts are ascertained at court. Evidence showing that the defendant is guilty or not-guilty, or that the crime is minor or serious, shall all be presented at court, to protect the rights of the prosecution and defense to debate evidence. Where the prosecution and defense disagree on evidence concerning conviction or sentencing, it shall be independently debated; for evidence that the prosecution and defense did not have objections to at the pretrial conference, presentation and debate of the evidence may be simplified.
XII. Improve rules for in-court examination of witnesses and evaluators. Put into place a system of witnesses, appraisers, and investigatory personnel appear in court to testify, to increase the rate of in-court testimony. Where public prosecutors, parties, defenders or agents ad litem object to a witness's testimony, and the people's court finds that the witness testimony has a major bearing on the case verdict or sentencing the witness shall appear in court to testify.
Improve the working mechanism for protecting witnesses, and lawfully adopt protective measures for persons who face risks to their personal safety and so forth due to testifying. Establish mechanisms for allocating special subsidy funds for witnesses and evaluators who testify. Improve the system for compelling witnesses to appear in court.
XIII. Improve rules for in-court debate, to ensure that the opinions of the prosecution and of the defense are expressed in court. In-court debate shall be conducted separately on guilt and sentencing; and in cases where the defendants confess, shall be primarily centered around sentencing. Courts shall fully hear the opinions of the prosecution and defense, to lawfully ensure the defendants' and their defenders' right to debate and defend.
XIV. Improve the system of announcing judgments at court, to ensure that the results of judgments are formed in court. In cases tried according to the expedited procedure, except where there is attached civil litigation, all judgments shall be announced in court without exception; in cases tried according to the summary procedures; judgments shall in general be reached and announced in court; in cases tried according to ordinary procedures, the rate at which judgments are announced at court shall be gradually increased. Standardize the system of announcing judgments on fixed dates.
XV. Judgment strictly in accordance with law. Where, upon trial, people's courts find that the facts of the case are clear, the evidence is credible and sufficient, and the defendant is determined to be guilty in accordance with law; a guilty judgment shall be made. Where a defendant is determined to be not-guilty on the basis of laws；a not-guilty judgment shall be made. Where evidence in insufficient and the alleged crime cannot be established, a not-guilty judgment shall be made in accordance with law in accordance with the principle erring towards innocence in disputed cases.
XVI: Improve mechanisms for people's procuratorates' supervision of investigatory activities and criminal trial activities. Establish and complete mechanisms for supervising compulsory measures. Strengthen people's procuratorates' review of the necessity of post-arrest detention, and standardize the application of non-custodial compulsory measures. Further standardize and strengthen people's procuratorates' work of appealing people's courts' judgments and rulings that are truly in error, to ensure the timeliness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of criminal protest appeals.
XVII: Complete systems safeguarding the rights of parties, defenders, and other litigation participants.
Lawfully safeguard parties' and other litigation participants' rights to know, make statements, debate and defend, to make applications and to appeal. Criminal suspects and defendants have the right to obtain a defense; people's courts, people's procuratorates, public security organs, and state security organs have an obligation to ensure that criminal suspects and defendants obtain a defense.
Ensure defenders' rights such as to meet clients, reading the case file, gather evidence, and to ask questions, debate evidence, debate and defend;improving work mechanisms facilitating defenders' participation in litigation.
XVIII. Defenders, and all other persons, must not assist criminal suspects or defendants in concealing, destroying or fabricating evidence or colluding on testimony, and must not entice witnesses to give false testimony or do other things that disrupt the litigation activities of the judicial organs. Where the acts described above are carried out, criminal liability shall be pursues in accordance with law.
IXX. Parties, litigation participants, and observers at trial activities shall follow the directions of the chief judge or judge trying the case alone, and obey courtroom discipline. Unlawful conduct that disrupts courtroom order, endangers courtroom safety shall be handled in accordance with law; where a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility is pursued in accordance with law.
XX. Establish a legal aid duty counsel system; legal aid institutions station duty lawyers in detention center and people's courts to provide legal assistance to criminal suspects and defendants.
Improve the legal aid system, complete working mechanisms for applying for legal aid and for case-handling organs notification of the defense. Carry out strict pursuit of liability of case-handling personnel who do not perform their duties to inform or to appoint a defense.
XXI. Advance the sorting of cases according to complexity, optimizing the deployment of judicial resources. Improve the criminal case systems on expedited procedures and leniency for those who admit guilt and accept punishment; in cases of slight crimes where the facts are clear and the evidence is sufficient, or cases where the criminal suspect or defendant voluntarily admits guilt and accepts punishment, the expedited procedures, summary procedures, or ordinary procedures may be applied for a simplified trial.