Investigation,Facing an accusation of having committed a crime can be very stressful, especially when the accused find themselves, abroad dealing with foreign customs and processes in an unfamiliar jurisdiction. CLC Attorneys-at-Law brief the assistance which may be provided by lawyers in the criminal interrogation procedure under the laws of Taiwan.
【Criminal Defense in Taiwan – Interviews and Interrogations at the Police Station, Investigation Bureau and Prosecutors Office】
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Facing an accusation of having committed a crime can be very stressful, especially when the accused find themselves, abroad dealing with foreign customs and processes in an unfamiliar jurisdiction. CLC Attorneys-at-Law brief the assistance which may be provided by lawyers in the criminal interrogation procedure under the laws of Taiwan.
I. Overview of the Process
The initial stage of an interrogation may normally start from a requisition (in the form of a summons or notification) or via an arrest.
- Summons or Notification
A police officer or prosecutor may notify a person to be present for interrogation as the legal status of a related party, witness or defendant. Although a person may voluntarily decide to attend the interrogation or not at this phase, failing to be present for interrogation, that may lead to an arrest afterwards. In addition, the legal status of a related party or witness may likely be altered from that of a defendant by the discretion of police officer or prosecutor at any time. This means that assistance from a lawyer is also crucial at this stage.
In Taiwan, an arrest can be commenced upon with a valid warrant. A suspect may also be apprehended without a warrant by any person when committing an offense or immediately thereafter. However, such an arrest should strictly follow the Code of Criminal Procedure. At this phase, lawyers may assist a suspect to file against an unlawful arrest via a petition for habeas corpus.
After being arrested, the suspect will be interviewed at the police station or an office of the Investigation Bureau, and then be interrogated by the prosecutor. The prosecutor will determine whether to apply for detention. In the event that the prosecutor decides to apply for detention, a court dealing with criminal offenses will review such an application in a court session. If the court approves the application for detention, the suspect will be transferred to the Detention Center. The court may also order that a suspect be released on bail, to the custody of another person, or released yet be under a travel restriction.
II. Rights of Criminal Defendants
In Taiwan, a criminal defendant has the right to a fair trial. In general, criminal defendants have the following rights during interviews or interrogations;
1. Being informed of the alleged crimes committed, and all the criminal charges.
2. Right to remain silent.
3. Right to a lawyer.
In the criminal procedure, suspects and defendants may retain defence attorneys at any time, including when under investigation by police officers. Once the defendant has retained a lawyer, the interrogation should cease immediately until the lawyer arrives.
4. Right to request an investigation on evidence favorable to the defendant.
5. Right to refuse overnight interview.
Except for the circumstances specified in the Code of Criminal Procedure, an interrogation of criminal suspects by police officer shall not be commenced at night.
6. An audio record should be made of all interviews without interruption, provided that in case of an emergency with a clear statement on the record.
III. Legal Representation in a Criminal Investigation
In Taiwan, the recording resulting from the police station interview or prosecutor’s interrogation can be used as the evidence against the defendant for conviction in a trial. Hence the assistance of a legal professional is very important, to offer the best advice for not only suspects but also defendants.
Lawyers may be able to provide a great deal of assistance, such as
1. Explaining the local criminal laws and procedures;
2. Providing legal consultation and advice;
3. Ensuring that the suspects are fully aware of their legal rights and are not submitted to any oppression; and
4. Ensuring that the records on transcript are consistent with suspects’ responses.
Criminal investigations may be change quickly and be unpredictable. What happens under questioning during the investigation procedure usually determines the outcome of a criminal case; therefore, preparation before an interview commences is a vital part of a successful defense or an appeal.