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Defendant's Rights in a Criminal Matter

Defendant's Rights in a Criminal Matter

A criminal case is a lawsuit brought by a prosecutor which charges a person with the commission of a crime, or by an individual who claims to suffer damages from a criminal act. If you are the defendant, it is important that you are aware of your rights in a criminal matter.


In Thailand, there are two categories in criminal cases

  1. Government Prosecutors initiate the Criminal cases that cannot be compromised or settled. These are criminal cases that affect the public peace or causes harm to society, the security of the country, are a threat to life or physical well-being, or to public or personal property. This includes serious crimes such as dealing with drugs, deforestation, illegal gambling and corruption.
  2. Criminal cases that can be compromised. These are criminal cases that do not affect public peace. They are offenses that affect an individual or a group of individuals. Some of these criminal cases include trademark infringement, defamation by slandering or libel, revealing trade secrets, committing fraud, cheating a creditor, embezzlement, trespassing, copyright matters, etc. The victim must personally file a complaint within the three-month statute of limitations, which runs from the date of knowing the crime and the recognition of the suspect.


During this stage, the police will conduct the initial investigation, interview witnesses, collect evidences, and issue a police report.  The alleged offender has the following rights in a criminal matter:

  • The alleged offender is innocent until proven guilty beyond a responsible doubt.
  • To have a lawyer represent them in a criminal matter without going through the investigating and prosecuting stage. A judge will consider the case from the evidences and witness’ statements. If the judge decides that there is a sufficient factual basis, he will stamp a seal accepting the case for prosecution. The suspect will then defend himself in court (from this point, he is referred to as the defendant). If the judge decides that there is an insufficient factual basis, he will dismiss the case.
  • To meet and consult with his lawyer in private. The accused may make a written or oral request to a policeman to meet his lawyer at a police station. The suspect will have to name the lawyer with whom he wants to meet. An alleged offender who cannot afford a lawyer will have a lawyer provided to him at no cost.
  • The police or court has to provide  an interpreter for foreigners, to translate or explain the legal procedures.
  • To have a lawyer present with them throughout the investigation stage.
  • To bail. The offender can post bail himself or by a relative, his lawyer or a bailsman. The person requesting bail must submit a written request to the investigating officer, who will then ask for particular additional documents. The announcement of the bail review result is within 24 hours.


The Defendant’s rights in a criminal matter are as follows:

  • The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a responsible doubt.
  • The defendant has one month to appeal to the Appeal Court or to the Supreme Court. This time begins from the day of reading the judgment. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is discretionary and the Supreme Court does not accept all appealed cases .
  • In case the defendant cannot afford a lawyer and the potential penalty includes imprisonment, or if the defendant is less than eighteen years old, the court may appoint lawyers for the case at no cost.


(Reference: Thai Law for Foreigner)


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