Criminal Justice in China

Criminal Justice in China

An Empirical Inquiry

Mike McConville

The political, economic and social transformations that have taken place in China over the last half-century have had a major impact upon the formal methods, institutions and mechanisms used to deal with alleged criminal infractions. This path-breaking book, based upon the largest and most systematic empirical inquiry ever undertaken in China, analyses the extent to which changes to the formal legal structure have resulted in changes to the law in practice.

Chapter 13: Trial outcomes observed

Mike McConville

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, criminal law and justice, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


INTRODUCTION In this chapter we discuss the outcomes of the trials that we observed in our courtroom samples. This will include a short review of the length of the trials, whether the judgment was immediate (that is, delivered on the same day immediately following the examination of evidence and the submissions of the prosecution and defence or more typically after a short adjournment of between five and 20 minutes) or delayed to another day, the overall outcome in terms of whether the prosecution was able to establish its case on some or all of the charges against the defendant to the satisfaction of the court, the content of the judgment, and a note about sentencing where relevant. TIME OF JUDGMENT As we have already noted, in general criminal trials in China are rapid affairs, whatever the seriousness of the charge or the number of defendants in joint trials. Not unexpectedly, summary trials are disposed of quickly, as they are effectively ‘slow Guilty Pleas’, with 91 per cent completed in less than 40 minutes. This is consistent with the findings of Chinese scholars. According to the survey by Xiao Shiwei (2008), in more than half of cases the trial was completed within 15 minutes. Similarly, based on 60 sample cases in Sichuan Province, Zuo Weimin (2007) found that the time of trial in summary procedure ranged from seven minutes to 75 minutes. The same pattern is broadly true of Simplified Ordinary Procedure cases which are also another form of ‘no contest’....

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