12.06.2007

Experiments in criminal justice

Last November the Penglai procuratorate in Shandong started experimenting “conditional exemption from prosecution“ (附条件不起诉制).
Those suspected of minor crimes are put on probation for a period of time ranging from three months to one year, with the possibility of a three months extention.
If during the period of probation the suspect does not commit any crimes (犯罪) or violations of the law (违法) he is exempted from prosecution.
To be put on probation, a criminal suspect needs to fulfill three different kinds of conditions:
  1. 6 compulsory conditions
  2. 6 supplementary conditions
  3. 2 optional conditions


6 compulsory conditions (必备条)
  1. The suspect must write a statement of repentance, make his apologies to the plaintiff and adopt other means of getting reconciliated with the plaintiff and obtain his forgiveness.
  2. Whenever material damage is involved, the suspect must pay compensation.
  3. The suspect must not harass the plaintiff, witnesses or their relatives
  4. The procuracy can prohibit the suspect from visiting certain places, or order him to undergo medical/psychological treatment
  5. Underage suspects need to undergo “education” (帮教), by a unit or a person chosen by the procuratorate
  6. This condition refers to the time limits mentioned above.
6 Supplementary conditions (附加条)
  1. The suspect must be accused of a minor offence, or of an unpremeditated one. Else, he must have been cheated or coerced into committing the offence
  2. The suspect must have no criminal record
  3. The suspect must acknowledge his crime, show repentance, be unlikely to harm society again, or to forge a confession, destroy evidence, obstruct witnesses or interfere in judicial proceedings
  4. The facts about the case must be clear and the evidence complete
  5. The suspect must not be a roving criminal (流窜作案), must have a fixed dwelling and other conditions that make possible to educate (帮教) and discipline (管教) him
  6. The suspect must not be suspected of any of the following crimes: crimes endangering national security; crimes investigated directly by the procuratorate; crimes undermining the order of financial management; crimes of infringing upon intellectual property rights; crimes of manufacturing and selling fake and shoddy goods; other crimes that undermine the order of socialist market economy; crimes that undermine protection of environmental resources and that arouse the anger of the masses; crimes that disrupt public order and that have serious consequences
2 Optional conditions (选择性条):
  1. Payment of “welfare money” (公益金) to the local civil affairs departments
  2. Perform social labour
This far conditional exemption from prosecution was used on 10 criminal cases. The Procuratorial Daily has reported about three of the cases where probation was used. The "Penglai experiment" in turn has sparked a debate on whether this measure encroaches upon the powers of the courts.