Legal Understanding Topic “CRIMINAL ACTIONS”

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For the past week, Legal Understanding Program of Fresh News Agency cooperation with Cambodia International Cooperation Law Group has brought a topic of “Civil Lawsuit” into discussion. This week, another topic of “Criminal Actions” will be discussed for the public.

Generally, even though in a completely peaceful society and social security, some inactivity and negative doings still occur through the action of some individuals or group of people who cause harm to the public order. When this sort of incident happen, the state has the responsibility to protect and guarantee public order through legal measures on those individuals and groups who commit those acts. Any action that can cause harm to public order and public interests, has consider as crimes and whoever commit the crime, will be prosecuted according to the proceedings of criminal actions.

What is a criminal actions? And who can file and proceed with criminal actions? Criminal actions has the objectives to determine the existence of crime, demonstrate the guilt of the criminals and prosecute any individual who commits such crime according to the law. Criminal actions apply to all individuals including both natural person and legal persons/entities despites their national origins, social classes, capital or any circumstances. According to Article 131 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, only public prosecution has the right to take public action, therefore the proceeding of criminal actions is the exclusive right of the prosecuting institution and criminal actions can be initiated by the accusation of any crimes by the prosecutor and request the application of the law before the investigating and trial jurisdiction.

Although, criminal actions can be proceeded by the prosecuting institution to guarantee the public order and the general interests, the direct victims from the crimes or related parties who are determined by these actions, have the right to file legal action to claim for civil compensation which can be determined as civil lawsuits under Criminal Procedure Code and these civil lawsuits have the objectives to enable the victims to get the compensation based on the damages the victims suffer from.

What factors that cause the criminal lawsuits to end?

Some Cambodian people still have some confusion that criminal actions end or the charger drops when the individuals who consider as the persons who commit the crime, pay compensation to the victims and when the victims withdraw the complaints (Civil complaint). Based on the legal principle, even the compensation has been paid to the victims and there is a negitiation to withdraw the complaints by the victims, criminal actions would not drop there. The withdrawal of civil lawsuits by the victims are only the end of the claim for the compensation to the victims, but it does not mean it is a factor that cause the criminal actions to drop. According to Article 7 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the charge in criminal actions drop based on the following factors:

  1. The death of an accused person

If the accused person, the suspects and the accused under a criminal actions die, this means the current criminal actions against such individuals will end and all legal proceedings will also end.

  1. The expiration of the staute of limitation

Statute of imitation is the time period specified by law related to the the maximum time period that the criminal actions can be filed or initiated. If any crime occurs which lead to the consideration of statute of limitation of the offense, and the statute of limitation has passed with the absence of the filing of criminal complaints related to that offense, then the charger in criminal actions will drop due to the expiration of statute of limitation. Statute of limitation varies depending on the offences, while for Petty offense has 1 year period, Misdemeanor offense has 5 years period and Felonies offense has 15 years limitation period. However, the law dooesn’t specify any limitation periods for some serious crime such as genocide, crime against humanity and war crime.

  1. Ageneral grant of amnesty

General grant of amnesty is different from royal pardon by the King which specified by law and generally made every year during big national holidays. A criminal action will drop through general pardon and the pardon refer to the law passed by the parliament in order to pardon or cancel any offense which leads to the extinction of current proceeding of criminal actions.

  1. Abrogation of the criminal law

A criminal actions can be  done by setting the criminal charge by the prosecutor in any offense but due to the reason that the criminal charge is repealed under new criminal law, that criminal actions which is done under the basis of criminal charge specified in the old law will drop.

  1. The res judicata

When the facts of any offense exist and the offense has set criminal charge by the prosecutor and there is a trial that leads to court decision or final verdict, such facts will not be brought for new criminal charge.

There are also other reasons for the criminal actions to drop when there are separate laws which clearly state that:

  1. The facilitation with the government (especially tax offenses)
  2. The withdrawal of complaints in case where the complaints/actions is necessary for the criminal charge
  3. The payment of total fines or facilitation fines (some illegal logging cases).

Compiled by: Mr. Thorn Yousieng and Miss Savy Lyda

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