VIETNAMESE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE - Part Three - FIRST-INSTANCE TRIAL








	
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PART THREE FIRST-INSTANCE TRIAL
CHAPTER XVI JURISDICTION OF COURTS AT ALL LEVELS
Article 170.- Adjudicating jurisdiction of courts at all levels
Article 171.- Territorial jurisdiction
Article 172.- Jurisdiction to adjudicate offenses committed on board aircraft or sea-going ships of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which are operating outside the airspace or the territorial sea of Vietnam
Article 173.- Adjudication of defendants committing many offenses falling under the jurisdiction of courts at different levels
Article 174.- Transfer of cases
Article 175.- Settlement of disputes over adjudicating jurisdiction
CHAPTER XVII TRIAL PREPARATION
Article 176.- Trial preparation time limits
Article 177.- Application, change or cancellation of deterrent measures
Article 178.- Contents of decisions to bring cases for trial
Article 179.- Decisions to return files for additional investigation
Article 180.- Decisions to suspend or cease cases
Article 181.- Withdrawal of prosecution decisions by procuracies
Article 182.- Handing of court decisions
Article 183.- Summoning of persons to be questioned at court sessions
CHAPTER XVIII GENERAL PROVISIONS ON PROCEDURES AT COURT SESSIONS
Article 184.- Direct, oral and uninterrupted trial
Article 185.- Composition of first-instance trial panels
Article 186.- Replacement of trial panel members in special cases
Article 187.- Appearance of defendants at court sessions
Article 188.- Supervision of defendants at court sessions
Article 189.- Appearance of procurators
Article 190.- Appearance of defense counsels
Article 191.- Appearance of victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives
Article 192.- Appearance of witnesses
Article 193.- Appearance of experts
Article 194.- Time limit for postponement of court sessions
Article 195.- Withdrawal of prosecution decisions or conclusion on lesser offenses by procurators at court sessions
Article 196.- Limits of trial
Article 197.- Internal rules of court sessions
Article 198.- Measures against persons violating order at court sessions
Article 199.- Making court judgments and decisions
Article 200.- Minutes of court sessions
CHAPTER XIX PROCEDURES FOR OPENING COURT SESSIONS
Article 201.- Procedures for opening court sessions
Article 202.- Settlement of requests for change of judges, jurors, procurators, court clerk, experts and/or interpreters
Article 203.- Explanation of the rights and obligations of interpreters and experts
Article 204.- Explanation of the rights, obligations of witnesses, and isolation of witnesses
Article 205.- Settlement of requests for examination of evidences and postponement of court sessions due to the absence of persons concerned
CHAPTER XX PROCEDURES FOR INQUIRY AT COURT SESSIONS
Article 206.- Reading of indictments
Article 207.- Inquiring order
Article 208.- Announcement of statements at investigating bodies
Article 209.- Inquiry of defendants
Article 210.- Inquiry of victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives
Article 211.- Inquiry of witnesses
Article 212.- Examination of exhibits
Article 213.- On-spot examination
Article 214.- Presentation and announcement of documents of the cases and comments and reports of agencies or organizations
Article 215.- Inquiry of experts
Article 216.- Termination of inquiry
CHAPTER XXI ARGUMENT AT COURT SESSIONS
Article 217.- Order of presentation of arguments
Article 218.- Counter-argument
Article 219.- Reopening of inquiry
Article 220.- Final words of defendants
Article 221.- Consideration of withdrawal of prosecution decisions or conclusions on lesser offenses
CHAPTER XXII DELIBERATION AND PRONUNCIATION OF JUDGMENTS
Article 222.- Deliberation of judgments
Article 223.- Reopening of inquiry and argument
Article 224.- Judgments
Article 225.- Proposal to remedy mistakes in the managerial work
Article 226.- Pronouncement of judgments
Article 227.- Release of defendants
Article 228.- Arrest of defendants for temporary detention after the pronouncement of judgments
Article 229.- Handing of judgments

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VIETNAMESE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE
Part Three - FIRST-INSTANCE TRIAL

Signature (d-m-y):26-11-2003


PART THREE FIRST-INSTANCE TRIAL

CHAPTER XVI JURISDICTION OF COURTS AT ALL LEVELS

Article 170.- Adjudicating jurisdiction of courts at all levels

1. The district-level people’s courts and the regional military courts shall conduct first-instance trial of criminal cases involving less serious offenses, serious offenses and very serious offenses, excluding the following offenses:

a/ Offenses of infringing upon national security;

b/ Offenses of undermining peace, against humanity, and war crimes;

c/ Offenses prescribed in Articles 93, 95, 96, 172, 216, 217, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 263, 293, 294, 295, 296, 322 and 323 of the Penal Code.

2. The provincial-level people’s courts and the military zone-level military courts shall conduct first-instance trial of criminal cases involving offenses not falling under the jurisdiction of the district-level people’s courts and the regional military courts or cases falling under the subordinate courts, which they take for trial.

Article 171.- Territorial jurisdiction

1. The courts competent to adjudicate criminal cases are the courts of the places where the offenses were committed. Where an offense is committed in different places or if the place where an offense was committed is unknown, the court competent to adjudicate the case shall be the one of the place where the investigation is completed.

2. For defendants committing offenses abroad, if they are to be adjudicated in Vietnam, the provincial-level people’s courts of their last residences in the country shall adjudicate them. If the defendants’ last residences in the country cannot be determined, the President of the Supreme People’s Court shall on a case-by-case basis issue decisions to assign the People’s Court of Hanoi city or Ho Chi Minh City to adjudicate such cases.

For defendants committing offenses abroad, if they fall under the adjudicating jurisdiction of a military court, they shall be adjudicated by the Military Court of the military-zone or higher level under decisions of the President of the Central Military Court.

Article 172.- Jurisdiction to adjudicate offenses committed on board aircraft or sea-going ships of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which are operating outside the airspace or the territorial sea of Vietnam

Offenses committed on board aircraft or sea-going ships of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which are operating outside the airspace of the territorial sea of Vietnam shall fall under the jurisdiction of the Vietnamese courts of the places of the first return airports or seaports or the places where such aircraft or sea-going ships are registered.

Article 173.- Adjudication of defendants committing many offenses falling under the jurisdiction of courts at different levels

For defendants committing many offenses, one of which falls under the adjudicating jurisdiction of the superior court, the superior court shall adjudicate the entire cases.

Article 174.- Transfer of cases

When realizing that cases do not fall under their jurisdiction, the courts shall transfer the cases to those with jurisdiction to adjudicate. The transfer of cases to courts outside the territory of a province or centrally run city or outside the territory of a military zone shall be decided by the provincial-level people’s courts or military zone-level military courts.

The transfer of a case to another court shall be effected only when the case has not been adjudicated yet. In this case, the transfer of the case shall be decided by the president of the court. If a case which falls under the jurisdiction of a Military Court or a superior court has been adjudicated, it must still be transferred to the competent court. In this case, the transfer of the case shall be decided by the trial panel.

Within two days after issuing decisions to transfer the cases, the courts must notify the procuracies of the same level and inform the accused and persons involved in the cases thereof.

Article 175.- Settlement of disputes over adjudicating jurisdiction

1. The settlement of disputes over adjudicating jurisdiction shall be decided by the presidents of the immediate superior courts.

2. The settlement of disputes over adjudicating jurisdiction between district-level people’s courts of different provinces or centrally run cities shall be decided by the presidents of the provincial-level people’s courts of the places where the investigation is completed.

3. The settlement of disputes over the adjudicating jurisdiction between people’s courts and military courts shall be decided by the President of the Supreme People’s Court.

CHAPTER XVII TRIAL PREPARATION

Article 176.- Trial preparation time limits

1. After receiving the case files, the judges assigned to preside over the court sessions shall have to study the files, settle complaints and requests of the participants in the procedure and perform other tasks necessary for opening court sessions.

2. Within thirty days for less serious offenses, forty five days for serious offenses, two months for very serious offenses and three months for especially serious offenses, counting from the date of receipt of the case files, the judges assigned to preside over court sessions must issue one of the following decisions:

a/ To bring the case for trial;

b/ To return the file for additional investigation;

c/ To cease or suspend the case.

For complicated cases, the presidents of courts may decide to prolong the trial preparation time limits for no more than fifteen days for less serious offenses and serious offenses, and for no more than thirty days for very serious offenses and especially serious offenses. Such prolongation must be immediately notified to the procuracies of the same level.

Within fifteen days after issuing decisions to bring the cases for trial, the courts must open court sessions; where they have plausible reasons, the courts may open court sessions within thirty days.

For the cases returned for additional investigation, within fifteen days after receiving back the files, the judges assigned to preside over the court sessions must issue decisions to bring the cases for trial.

Article 177.- Application, change or cancellation of deterrent measures

After receiving the case files, the judges assigned to preside over the court sessions shall have the right to decide to apply, change or cancel deterrent measures, excluding the application, change or cancellation of the temporary detention measure, which shall be decided by the presidents or vice-presidents of courts.

The time limits for temporary detention for trial preparation shall not exceed the trial preparation time limits defined in Article 176 of this Code.

For defendants in temporary detention but the time limit for their temporary detention expires on the date of opening the court sessions, if deeming their continued temporary detention necessary in order to complete the trial, the courts shall issue orders on temporary detention till the closing of the court sessions.

Article 178.- Contents of decisions to bring cases for trial

A decision to bring a case for trial must contain:

1. The full name, birth date, birth place, occupation and residence of the defendant;

2. The title of the offense and articles of the Penal Code applied by the procuracy to the act committed by the defendant;

3. The date, hour and venue of opening the court session;

4. Public or closed-door trial;

5. The full names of the judge, jurors and court clerk; the full names of alternate judge and jurors, if any;

6. The full name of the procurator to participate in the court session; the full name of the alternate procurator, if any;

7. The full name of the defense counsel, if any;

8. The full name of the interpreter, if any;

9. The full names of persons summoned for questioning at the court session;

10. Exhibits to be presented for examination at the court session.

Article 179.- Decisions to return files for additional investigation

1. Judges shall issue decisions to return files to procuracies for additional investigation in the following cases:

a/ Where important evidences in the cases need to be further examined, which cannot be supplemented at the court session;

b/ Where there are grounds to believe that the defendant has committed another offense or there is another accomplice;

c/ Where serious violations of the procedure are detected.

The matters required to be additionally investigated must be clearly stated in the decisions requesting the additional investigation.

2. If the additional investigation results lead to the cessation of the cases, the procuracies shall issue decisions to cease the cases and notify the courts thereof.

In cases where the procuracies cannot supplement the matters as requested by the courts and keep their prosecution decisions unchanged, the courts shall still proceed with the trial.

Article 180.- Decisions to suspend or cease cases

Judges shall issue decisions to cease cases when there are grounds prescribed in Article 160 of this Code; issue decisions to cease cases when there is one of the grounds prescribed in Clause 2 of Article 105 and Points 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of Article 107 of this Code, or when the procuracies withdraw the entire prosecution decisions before the opening of court sessions.

Where a case involves many accused or defendants while the grounds for suspension or cessation of the case do not relate to all of the accused or defendants, the case may be suspended or ceased for each of them.

A decision to cease a case must contain the contents specified in Clause 3, Article 164 of this Code.

Article 181.- Withdrawal of prosecution decisions by procuracies

If deeming that there is one of the grounds prescribed in Article 107 of this Code or there are grounds to exempt the accused or defendants from penal liability under the provisions of Article 19, Article 25, and Clause 2 of Article 69 of the Penal Code, the procuracies shall withdraw prosecution decisions before the opening of court sessions and propose the courts to cease the cases.

Article 182.- Handing of court decisions

1. Decisions to bring the cases for trial must be handed to the defendants, their lawful representatives and defense counsels at least ten days before the opening of court sessions.

In case of adjudicating defendants in absentia, the decisions to bring the cases for trial and indictments shall be handed to the defendants’ defense counsels or lawful representatives; such decisions must be also posted up at the head offices of the administrations of the communes, wards or townships where the defendants reside or at their last working places.

2. The courts’ decisions to suspend or decisions to cease the cases must be handed to the accused or defendants, defense counsels, victims, lawful representatives of the accused or defendants; other participants in the procedure shall be informed thereof in writing.

3. Decisions to bring the cases for trial, decisions to cease the cases, decisions to suspend the cases must be immediately sent to the procuracies of the same level.

4. Decisions to apply, change or cancel deterrent measures must be immediately sent to the accused or defendants, the procuracies of the same level, detention centers where the accused or defendants are being held.

Article 183.- Summoning of persons to be questioned at court sessions

Basing themselves on the decisions to bring the cases for trial, judges shall summon persons who need to be questioned at court sessions.

CHAPTER XVIII GENERAL PROVISIONS ON PROCEDURES AT COURT SESSIONS

Article 184.- Direct, oral and uninterrupted trial

1. The courts must directly determine the circumstances of the cases by asking questions and listening to opinions of the defendants, victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases, witnesses and experts, examine exhibits and listen to the opinions of the procurators and defense counsels. Judgments shall be based only on the evidences examined at court sessions.

2. The trial must be conducted uninterruptedly, excluding break time.

Article 185.- Composition of first-instance trial panels

A first-instance trial panel shall be composed of one judge and two jurors. For serious and complicated cases, the trial panel may be composed of two judges and three jurors.

For cases where the defendants brought for trial are charged with offenses punishable by death as the highest penalty, the trial panel shall be composed of two judges and three jurors.

The judges presiding over court sessions shall conduct the trial and maintain the court order.

Article 186.- Replacement of trial panel members in special cases

1. The members of trial panels must hear the cases from the beginning to the end.

2. In the course of trial, if a judge or juror discontinues hearing the case, the court may still hear the case with the alternate judge or juror. Only alternate judges and jurors who are present at the court sessions from the beginning may participate in adjudicating the cases. Where a trial panel consists of two judges but the judge presiding over the court session cannot continue hearing the case, the judge being member of the trial panel shall preside over the court session and the alternate judge shall be added to the trial panel as a member.

3. Where there is no alternate judge or juror for replacement or if the presiding judge of a court session must be replaced while there is no substitute judge as prescribed in Clause 2 of this Article, the case must be re-tried from the beginning.

Article 187.- Appearance of defendants at court sessions

1. Defendants must appear at court sessions in response to court summonses; if they are absent without plausible reasons, they shall be escorted according to the procedure prescribed in Article 130 of this Code; if they are absent for plausible reasons, the court sessions must be postponed.

If the defendants suffer from mental diseases or other dangerous diseases, the trial panels shall suspend the cases till the defendants recover from their illnesses.

If the defendants have escaped, the trial panels shall suspend the cases and request the investigating bodies to pursue them.

2. Courts may try the defendants in absentia in the following cases:

a/ The defendant has escaped and his/her pursuit has been in vain;

b/ The defendant stays abroad and cannot be summoned to the court session;

c/ The absence of the defendant causes no obstacle to the trial and he/she has been handed the summons properly.

Article 188.- Supervision of defendants at court sessions

1. Defendants being held in temporary detention, when appearing at court sessions, shall only be allowed to meet with their defense counsels. Their contacts with other persons must be permitted by the presiding judges of the court sessions.

2. Defendants who are not held in temporary detention must be present at the court sessions throughout the period of adjudication.

Article 189.- Appearance of procurators

1. Procurators of the procuracies of the same level must participate in court sessions. For serious and complicated cases, two procurators may together participate in court sessions. In case of necessity, there may be alternate procurators.

2. If procurators are absent or changed while there are no alternate ones for replacement, the trial panels shall postpone court sessions and immediately report thereon to the procuracies of the same level.

Article 190.- Appearance of defense counsels

Defense counsels shall be obliged to participate in court sessions. They may send in advance their written defenses to the courts. If defense counsels are absent, the courts shall still open the court sessions.

Where defense counsels are compulsorily required under the provisions of Clause 2, Article 57 of this Code but they are absent, the trial panels must postpone the court sessions.

Article 191.- Appearance of victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives

1. If victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives are absent, the trial panels shall decide, on a case by-case basis, to postpone the court session or proceed with the trial.

2. If deeming that the absence of victims, civil plaintiffs or civil defendants would cause obstacles only to the settlement of compensation questions, the trial panels may sequester the compensation for later trial according to civil procedures.

Article 192.- Appearance of witnesses

Witnesses shall participate in court sessions in order to clarify the circumstances of the cases. If an witness is absent but has earlier given his/her statements at the investigating body, the judge presiding the court session shall announce such statements. If a witness to important matters is absent, the trial panel shall decide, on a case-by-case basis, to postpone the court session or proceed with the trial.

If an witness has been subpoenaed by the court but deliberately refuses to appear without plausible reasons and their absence impedes the trial, the trial panel may issue an escort decision. The procedure for escorting witnesses shall comply with the provisions of Article 134 of this Code.

Article 193.- Appearance of experts

1. When being subpoenaed by courts, experts shall participate in court sessions.

2. If experts are absent, the trial panel shall decide, on a case-by-case basis, to postpone the court session or proceed with the trial.

Article 194.- Time limit for postponement of court sessions

For the cases where court sessions must be postponed under Articles 45. 46, 47, 187, 189, 190, 191, 192 and 193 of this Code, the time limit for postponement of court sessions of first-instance trial shall not exceed thirty days, counting from the date of issuance of the decisions to postpone the court sessions.

Article 195.- Withdrawal of prosecution decisions or conclusion on lesser offenses by procurators at court sessions

During court sessions, after inquiring, procurators may withdraw part or whole of the prosecution decisions or conclude on lesser offenses, but the trial panels must try the whole cases.

Article 196.- Limits of trial

Courts shall only adjudicate defendants and acts of the offenses which have been prosecuted by the procuracies and decided by the courts to be brought for trial.

Courts may adjudicate defendants according to clauses other than those in the same articles which the procuracies have applied to prosecute them, or for other offenses equal to or lesser than the ones prosecuted by the procuracies.

Article 197.- Internal rules of court sessions

1. Before starting court sessions, the court clerks must announce the internal rules of the court sessions.

2. All people in the courtrooms must show respect for the trial panels, keep order and obey the instructions of the presiding judges.

3. All people in the courtrooms must stand up when the members of the trial panels enter the courtrooms. Those who have been summoned for inquiry may present their opinions provided that their presentation is permitted by the presiding judges. The persons presenting opinions must stand while being questioned, except where they are permitted by the presiding judges to sit and present their statements due to their poor health.

4. Persons aged under 16 years shall not be allowed to enter the courtrooms, except where they are summoned by the courts for inquiry.

Article 198.- Measures against persons violating order at court sessions

Persons who violate order at court sessions shall be warned, fined, forced to leave the court rooms by the presiding judges or arrested on a case-by-case basis.

The security guards of court sessions shall have to keep order at court sessions and execute the orders of the presiding judges to force the persons disturbing order at court sessions to leave the courtrooms or arrest them.

Article 199.- Making court judgments and decisions

1. Court judgments shall decide on whether or not the defendants have committed the offenses, penalties and other judicial measures. Judgments must be discussed and adopted in the deliberation chambers.

2. Decisions to change members of the trial panels, procurators, court clerks, experts, interpreters to transfer the cases, to request additional investigation, to suspend or cease the cases and to arrest or release defendants must be discussed and adopted in the deliberation chambers and made in writing.

3. Decisions on other matters shall be discussed and adopted by the trial panels at the courtrooms, are not required to be made in writing but must be recorded in the minutes of the court sessions.

Article 200.- Minutes of court sessions

1. The minutes of a court session must contain the date, hour and venue of the court session and all developments thereat from commencement of trial to pronouncement of judgment. Apart from being recorded in the minutes, developments at a court session may be audio- and/or video-recorded,

2. All questions and answers must be recorded in the minutes.

3. At the end of court sessions, the judges presiding over the court sessions must examine the minutes and sign them together with the court clerks.

4. Procurators, defendants, defense counsels, victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases, defense counsels of the interests of the involved persons or lawful representatives of such persons may read the minutes of the court sessions and have the right to request the writing of amendments and/or supplements in such minutes and certify them with their signatures.

CHAPTER XIX PROCEDURES FOR OPENING COURT SESSIONS

Article 201.- Procedures for opening court sessions

To open a court session, the presiding judge shall read the decision to bring the case for trial.

After listening to the court clerk reporting on the list of summoned persons who are present, the presiding judge shall examine the identity cards of such persons and explain to them their rights and obligations at the court session.

Where a defendant has not yet been handed the indictment under the provisions of Clause 2, Article 49 and decision to bring the case for trial within the time limit defined in Clause 1, Article 182 of this Code, and if he/she requests, the trial panel must postpone the court session.

Article 202.- Settlement of requests for change of judges, jurors, procurators, court clerk, experts and/or interpreters

Procurators and participants in the procedure must be asked by the presiding judges whether or not they request to change judges, jurors, procurators, court clerks, experts and/or interpreters. If any of them makes such a request, the trial panel shall consider it and make a decision thereon.

Article 203.- Explanation of the rights and obligations of interpreters and experts

If there are interpreters and/or experts participating in the court sessions, the presiding judges shall introduce their full names, occupations or positions and clearly explain their rights and obligations. These persons must pledge to properly perform their tasks.

Article 204.- Explanation of the rights, obligations of witnesses, and isolation of witnesses

1. After asking the full name, age, occupation and residence place of each witness, the presiding judges shall clearly explain their procedural rights and obligations. Witnesses must pledge not to give false testimonies. Particularly, minor witnesses shall not be required to make such pledge.

2. Before witnesses are questioned about the cases, the presiding judges may decide to apply various measures in order to prevent witnesses from hearing each other’s testimonies or meeting with other concerned persons. In cases where the testimonies of defendants and witnesses may influence one another, the presiding judges may decide to separate defendants from witnesses before questioning witnesses.

Article 205.- Settlement of requests for examination of evidences and postponement of court sessions due to the absence of persons concerned

The presiding judges must ask procurators and participants in the procedure whether or not they request to summon more witnesses or to produce more exhibits and documents for examination. If any of the participants in the procedure is absent, the presiding judges must also ask whether or not any of the above-said persons requests to postpone the court sessions. If any person so requests, the trial panels shall consider and decide.

CHAPTER XX PROCEDURES FOR INQUIRY AT COURT SESSIONS

Article 206.- Reading of indictments

Before inquiring, procurators shall read the indictments and present additional opinions, if any.

Article 207.- Inquiring order

1. The trial panels must determine fully all circumstances of each fact and each offense in the cases in a rational inquiring order.

2. When inquiring each person, the presiding judge shall put questions first, then procurators, defense counsels and defense counsels of interests of the involved persons. Participants in the court sessions shall also have the right to request the presiding judges to ask more questions about the circumstances required to be clarified. Experts may ask questions about matters related to the expert examination.

3. While inquiring, the trial panels shall examine related exhibits in the cases.

Article 208.- Announcement of statements at investigating bodies

1. If the persons inquired are present at the court sessions, the trial panels and procurators must not repeat or announce their statements at the investigating bodies before they give their statements on the circumstances of the cases at the court sessions.

2. Statements taken at the investigating bodies shall only be announced in the following cases:

a/ Statements of the persons inquired at the court sessions are contradictory to theirs at the investigating bodies;

b/ Inquired persons refuse to give statements at the court sessions;

c/ The persons to be inquired are absent or deceased.

Article 209.- Inquiry of defendants

1. The trial panels must inquire each defendant separately. If the statements of this defendant may affect those of another, the presiding judge must isolate them. In this case, the isolated defendants shall be informed of the statements of the previous defendants and have the right to put questions to such defendants.

2. Defendants shall present their opinions on the indictments and circumstances of the cases. The trial panels shall further inquire about insufficient or contradictory points in the defendants’ statements.

3. Procurators shall inquire about circumstances of the cases which are related to the accusation or exculpation of defendants. Defense counsels shall inquire about circumstances related to the defense, defense counsels of the interests of the involved parties shall inquire about circumstances related to the protection of interests of the involved parties. Participants at court sessions shall have the right to propose the presiding judges to further ask about circumstances related to them.

4. If defendants refuse to answer questions, the trial panels, procurators, defense counsels and defense counsels of the interests of the involved parties shall continue to inquire other persons and examine exhibits and documents related to the cases.

Article 210.- Inquiry of victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives

Victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives shall give their statements on circumstances of the cases which are related to them. Then, the trial panels, procurators, defense counsels and defense counsels of the interests of the involved parties shall inquire further about insufficient or contradictory points in their statements.

Article 211.- Inquiry of witnesses

1. The trial panels must inquire each witness separately and not let other witnesses know the contents of such inquiry.

2. While inquiring witnesses, the trial panels must ask questions to clarify their relationships with the defendants and involved parties in the cases. The presiding judges shall request witnesses to state clearly the circumstances of the cases they know, then inquire further about those insufficient or contradictory points in their testimonies. Procurators, defense counsels, defense counsels of the interests of the involved parties then may further ask the witnesses.

3. If witnesses are minor, the presiding judges may seek the help of their parents, mentors or teachers in inquiring them.

4. After giving their testimonies, witnesses shall stay on in the courtrooms for possible further inquiry.

5. In case of necessity to ensure safety for witnesses and their relatives, the trial panels must decide to apply measures to protect them according to law.

Article 212.- Examination of exhibits

1. Exhibits, photos or minutes certifying exhibits shall be presented for examination at court sessions.

When necessary, the trial panels may together with procurators, defense counsels and other participants in court sessions, come to examine on the spot exhibits which cannot be brought to the court sessions. The on-spot examination must be recorded in a minutes according to the provisions of Article 95 of this Code.

2. Procurators, defense counsels and other participants in court sessions shall have the right to present their remarks on exhibits. The trial panels may inquire further about matters related to exhibits.

Article 213.- On-spot examination

When deeming it necessary, the trial panels may together with procurators, defense counsels and other participants in court sessions come to examine the scenes of offenses or other places related to the cases. Procurators, defense counsels and other participates at court sessions shall have the right to present their remarks on the scenes of offenses or other places related to the cases.

The trial panels may inquire other participants in court sessions further about matters related to such places.

The on-spot examination must be recorded in a minutes according to general procedures prescribed in Article 95 of this Code.

Article 214.- Presentation and announcement of documents of the cases and comments and reports of agencies or organizations

Comments and reports of agencies or organizations on circumstances of the cases shall be presented by the representatives of such agencies or organizations; if no representatives of such agencies or organizations are present, the trial panels shall announce such comments and reports at the court sessions.

Documents contained in the case files or just presented during the inquiry shall all have to be announced at court sessions.

Procurators, defendants, defense counsels and other participants in court sessions shall have the right to give their remarks on such documents and inquire further about related matters.

Article 215.- Inquiry of experts

1. Experts shall present their conclusions on the matters assigned to them for expertise.

2. At court sessions, experts shall have the right to give additional explanations on the basis of the expertise conclusions.

3. If experts are absent, the presiding judges shall announce the expertise conclusions.

4. Procurators, defense counsels and other participants in court sessions shall have the right to give remarks on the expertise conclusions, inquire about unclear or contradictory matters in such conclusions.

5. When deeming it necessary, the trial panels shall decide to solicit additional expertise or re-expertise.

Article 216.- Termination of inquiry

When deeming that all circumstances of the cases have been examined fully, the presiding judges shall ask procurators, defendants, defense counsels and other participants in the court sessions whether they request to inquire about any matters. If any of them makes such a request and deeming that such request is justifiable, the presiding judges shall decide to continue the inquiry.

CHAPTER XXI ARGUMENT AT COURT SESSIONS

Article 217.- Order of presentation of arguments

1. At the end of the inquiry at the court sessions, procurators shall present the arraignments, proposing the charges against the defendants on the basis of the whole or part of the indictments or conclusions on lesser offenses; if deeming that there are no grounds for conviction, they shall withdraw the whole prosecution decisions and propose the trial panels to pronounce the defendants not guilty.

The arraignments presented by procurators must be based on documents and evidences already examined at the court sessions and opinions of the defendants, defense counsels, defense counsels of the interests of the involved parties and other participants in the procedure at the court sessions.

2. Defendants shall present their defense, if they have defense counsels, such defense counsels shall defend the defendants. Defendants shall have the right to add defense opinions.

3. Victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants and persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives may present their opinions to protect their rights and interests; if they have defense counsels of their interests, such defense counsels shall have the right to present and add opinions.

Article 218.- Counter-argument

Defendants, defense counsels and other participants in the procedure shall have the right to present their opinions on the arraignments made by procurators and put forward their requests. Procurators must present their arguments on each opinion.

Participants in the arguing process shall have the right to respond to opinions of others. The presiding judges must not restrict the arguing time, must create conditions for participants in the arguing process to present all opinions, but they shall, however, have the right to cut out opinions irrelevant to the cases.

The presiding judges shall have the right to request procurators to respond to opinions related to the cases, which are presented by defense counsels and other participants in the procedure but have not yet been touched upon by procurators in their arguments.

Article 219.- Reopening of inquiry

If, through the arguing process, they deem it necessary to further examine evidences, the trial panels may decide to reopen the inquiry. The arguing process must be continued once the inquiry ends.

Article 220.- Final words of defendants

When the participants in the arguing process make no more statements, the presiding judges shall declare to conclude the arguing process.

Defendants shall then be allowed to say their final words. Questions must not be put while the defendants are saying their final words. The trial panels shall have the right to request the defendants not to dwell on matters irrelevant to the cases but must not restrict the time for them to say.

If, in their final words, the defendants additionally present new circumstances of important significance to the cases, the trial panels must decide to re-open the inquiry.

Article 221.- Consideration of withdrawal of prosecution decisions or conclusions on lesser offenses

1. When procurators withdraw part of their prosecution decisions or conclude on lesser offenses, the trial panels shall still continue adjudicating the cases.

2. Where procurators withdraw the whole of the prosecution decisions, the trial panels, before deliberating the judgments, shall request the participants in the procedure at the court sessions to give their opinions on such withdrawal.

CHAPTER XXII DELIBERATION AND PRONUNCIATION OF JUDGMENTS

Article 222.- Deliberation of judgments

1. Only judges and jurors shall have the right to deliberate judgments. Members of the trial panels must settle all matters of the cases by majority vote on each matter. Judges shall vote last. Persons holding minority opinions shall have the right to present their opinions in writing for inclusion in the case files.

2. Where procurators withdraw the whole prosecution decisions, the trial panels shall still settle matters of the cases in the order prescribed in Clause 1 of this Article. If there are grounds to confirm that defendants are not guilty, the trial panels shall declare the defendants not guilty; if deeming that the withdrawal of the prosecution decisions is ungrounded, they shall decide to cease the cases and make proposals to the immediate superior procuracies.

3. The deliberation of judgments shall be based only on evidences and documents already verified at the court sessions on the basis of fully and comprehensively examining all evidences, opinions of procurators, defendants, defense counsels and other participants in the proceedings at court sessions.

4. All opinions and decisions of the trial panels made in the process of deliberating judgments must be recorded in the minutes. Judgment deliberation minutes must be signed by all members of the trial panels at the deliberation chambers before the judgments are pronounced.

Article 223.- Reopening of inquiry and argument

If they find, through judgment deliberation, that some circumstances of the cases have not yet been inquired into or have been insufficiently inquired into, the trial panels shall decide to reopen the inquiry and argument.

Article 224.- Judgments

1. The courts shall hand down judgments in the name of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

2. A judgment should contain the date, hour and venue of the court session; full names of members of the trial panel and court clerk; full names of procurators; full name, birth date, birth place, residence, occupation, educational level, social status and previous criminal records of the defendant; the date the defendant is held in custody and/or temporary detention; full name, age, occupation, birth place and residence of the defendant’s lawful representative; full name of the defense counsel; full names, ages, occupations, residences of the victim, civil plaintiff, civil defendant, persons with interests and obligations related to the case, and their lawful representatives.

3. A judgment must describe the commission of the offense by the defendant, analyze evidences arraigning and exculpating the defendant, determine where or not the defendant is guilty, and if guilty, which offense he/she has committed under which article and clause of the Penal Code, circumstances aggravating and extenuating his/her penal liability and how should they be handled. If the defendant is not guilty, the judgment must clearly state the grounds to confirm that the defendant is not guilty and deal with the restoration of his/her honor, legitimate rights and interests. The last part of a judgment shall contain the court’s decisions and the right to appeal against the judgment.

Article 225.- Proposal to remedy mistakes in the managerial work

1. Together with handing down judgments, the courts shall issue proposals to the concerned agencies and organizations to apply necessary measures to overcome crime causes and conditions at their agencies and organizations. Within thirty days after receiving the courts’ proposals, such agencies and organizations must notify in writing the courts of the measures already applied.

2. Proposals of the courts may be either read at the court sessions together with the judgments or sent to the concerned agencies or organizations only. .

Article 226.- Pronouncement of judgments

All people present in the courtrooms must stand up when a judgment is pronounced. The presiding judge or another member of the trial panel shall read the judgment and may, after reading, explain further the execution of the judgment and the right to appeal.

If the defendant does not know Vietnamese, after the judgment is pronounced, the interpreter must read to the defendant the whole judgment in the language which the defendant knows.

Article 227.- Release of defendants

In the following cases, the trial panels must declare the immediate release at the court sessions of the defendants who are temporarily detained, provided that they are not temporarily detained for another offense:

1. The defendants are not guilty;

2. The defendants are exempt from penal liability or from serving the penalty;

3. The defendants are punished with penalties other than imprisonment.

4. The defendants are entitled to suspended judgments;

5. The imprisonment term is equal to or shorter than the period during which the defendants have been temporarily detained.

Article 228.- Arrest of defendants for temporary detention after the pronouncement of judgments

1. For defendants who are being temporarily detained and sentenced to imprisonment but their temporary detention time limits expire on the date the court sessions end, the trial panels shall issue decisions to hold the defendants in temporary detention in order to secure the judgment execution, except for the cases prescribed in Clause 4 and Clause 5 of Article 227 of this Code.

2. Where the defendants who are not held in temporary detention are sentenced to imprisonment, they shall only be arrested for temporary detention in order to serve the penalties when the judgments become legally valid. The trial panels may issue decisions to immediately arrest the defendants for temporary detention if they have grounds to believe that the defendants may escape or continue to commit other offenses.

3. The time limit for temporary detention of defendants prescribed in Clause 1 and Clause 2 of this Article is forty five days as from the date of pronouncement of the judgments.

4. For defendants punished by capital punishment, the trial panels shall decide in the judgments on the continued temporary detention of the defendants to secure the execution of the judgments.

Article 229.- Handing of judgments

Within ten days after the date of pronouncement of the judgments, the first-instance courts must hand copies of the judgments to the defendants, the procuracies of the same level, and defense counsels, send them to persons tried in absentia and the police agencies of the same level; notify such in writing to the administrations of the communes, wards or townships where the defendants reside or the agencies or organizations where they work.

In case of trying defendants in absentia under the provisions of Point a or Point b, Clause 2, Article 187 of this Code, within the above-said time limit, copies of the judgments must be posted up at the offices of the administrations of the communes, wards or townships where the defendants last reside or of the agencies or organizations where they last work.

Victims, civil plaintiffs, civil defendants, persons with interests and obligations related to the cases or their lawful representatives shall have the right to request the courts to provide them extracts or copies of the judgments.




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