Thai Criminal Law Overview Key Points:
20 September 2012

The Thai penal code provides the basic statutory law controlling Thailand’s criminal justice system. According to Thailand Criminal Defense Lawyers, one of the practical obstacles for foreigners in Thailand when confronted by Thailand’s criminal justice process is its unfamiliarity and the differences between Thailand’s system and that of their own nation. The following are some of the main differences between Thailand’s system and many western common law states.

(1) Under certain special circumstances, it is possible in Thailand to file criminal charges privately. This means unlike common law countries, cases do not necessarily have to be referred to the public prosecutor (Attorney General in Thailand) but may be filed by aggrieved individuals directly.

(2) There is no jury system in Thailand. This may have advantages and disadvantages. Criminal cases are decided by judges only.

(3) The police are often overburdened in Thailand. Accordingly aggrieved individuals often choose to retain an attorney to prepare charges to be filed with the police.

(4) There are Royal Pardons issued periodically in Thailand. That said, there are strict condition for a pardon and defendants should not expect an automatic royal pardon to be issued in any particular case.

(5) Constitutional protections are not as certain nor as reliable as in Western common law countries such as the United States; there have been dozens of constitutions in Thailand. The most recent constitution is only a few years old.

(6) The body of common law cases that you can find in western law countries does not exist to the same extent in Thailand. Although there are Supreme Court case decisions that are important for the development of the law of Thailand, they do not have the same weight as in common law countries.

(7) There is significant interest and activity in various international treaties and procedures such as prisoner exchange programs and extradition. This is due to the fact that Thailand has a large transient foreign population that often requires utilization of these extraordinary measures.

Thailand Criminal Laws Resources:

I. Thai Criminal Law Acts and Treaties

The actual text of enacted law by his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, regulating the use of computers and cyber activities related to computer usage.

Extradition proceedings in Thailand are governed by this newly enforced extradition act of August 10, 2008 that repealed and replaced the extradition act of 1929. However, extraditions are also dependent on the provisions of international treaties that Thailand holds with other international agencies.

At present, Thailand has extradition treaties with 14 countries. Further information with regard to Thailand’s extradition treaty with USA, Great Britain, Indonesia, China, South Korea, Philippines and Bangladesh are available in the following links:

Unites States of America and Thailand Extradition Treaty

Great Britain and Thailand Extradition Treaty

Indonesia and Thailand Extradition Treaty

China and Thailand Extradition Treaty

South Korea and Thailand Extradition Treaty

Philippines and Thailand Extradition Treaty

Bangladesh and Thailand Extradition Treaty

Thailand’s Anti-money Laundering Act

This is the actual text to the set of procedures, laws and regulations designed to stop the practice of generating income trough illegal actions in Thailand.

II. Thai Criminal Laws Popular Articles

  • US International Law Enforcement Cooperation Case Study in Thailand - This article analyzes the unique legal system of Thailand and cultural heritage as it presents special problems and issues when confronted by the interdiction of the United States government agencies such as the DEA. These issues include the principles of Sovereignty, Conflict of Laws, and the practical implementation of binational law. It also examines the effects of such extraterritorial imposition of law enforcement power by US agencies upon foreign legal systems, particularly the Thai legal system.
  • The Predicate offenses of Thai Money Laundering - This article discussed the extent to which the Thai anti-money laundering law complies with the Palermo Convention's requirements regarding the definition of predicate offences. It demonstrates the predicate offences under the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Act including corruption offences required by the Palermo Convention.

Foreign national residents in Thailand may refer to this article for a general overview of the regulations concerning gun ownership in the kingdom.


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