Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China
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Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China

Edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils

Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China is an anthology of chapters on the contemporary criminal justice system in mainland China, bringing together the work of recognised scholars from China and around the world.
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Chapter 8: The guilty plea: an Australian/Chinese comparison

Ian Dobinson


Recent New South Wales criminal court statistics report that approximately 87 per cent of defendants in the Local (Magistrates’) Courts pleaded guilty to the charges laid. In the Higher Courts (Supreme and District Courts), a lower, but still significant majority (76 per cent) pleaded guilty (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BCSR), 2010, pp. 3 and 12, respectively). While the 1996 Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) does not require Chinese suspects to plead guilty or not guilty, this is very similar to the figures from Criminal Justice in China: An Empirical Enquiry where it was found that nearly 91 per cent of Basic Court defendants totally agreed or partially agreed with the charges laid. In the Intermediate Courts the figure was 85 per cent (McConville et al, 2011, p. 240). Not only is there statistical similarity but, at first glance, the reasons for defendants pleading guilty or accepting the charges in Australia and China respectively are also largely the same: namely to benefit from any reduction in sentence for doing so. There would also appear to be some statutory similarity.

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