On September 24, 2019, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued three example cases that provide strong referential value on the procuratorate’s application of guilty plea requirements.
1. Intentional injury
In this case, second-degree intentional injuries were inflicted over trivial matters, and both suspects confessed, apologized and provided compensation to all economic harm suffered by the victim; the victim also forgave the suspects as a result. As the procuratorate considered this case as meeting the requirements for the guilty plea and leniency system, after listening to the opinions of the defense lawyers, the procuratorate informed the two crime suspects of the potential sentencing recommendation. When making a sentence recommendation, the benchmark penalty is determined from the starting point for sentencing. In this case, as the matter arose from a civil dispute, and the suspects confessed, provided compensation to the victim and the victim forgave the suspects, the relevant sentencing meets the probation standards, and thus the procuratorate made a final recommendation for a sentence of six months in prison for the suspects. After verifying the voluntariness, verity and legality of the guilty pleas and the affidavits the defendants had signed, as well as listening to the opinions of the defenders and the final statements of the defendants in the course of trial, the court accepted the sentencing recommendations from the procuratorate. The application of the guilty plea and leniency system and the sentencing recommendations demonstrated the substantive leniency to crime suspects and the speediness and simplicity of the criminal proceedings.
2. Illegal logging
In a case involving minor illegal logging, the procuratorate persuaded the suspect to plead guilty. The suspect then signed the guilty plea with his lawyer present. In consideration that this was a first offense, the offense was minor with subjectively little intent of harm, the willingness to confess and having performed the “replanting” obligation, given the leniency policy, public interest and the efficacy of the case investigation, an open hearing and a public announcement procedure should be applied to this case pursuant to law. A document was prepared at the hearing to make a no prosecution declaration in line with the guilty plea and lenience system. This is conducive to realizing the unity between legal efficacy and social efficacy.
In a case involving an intentional homicide over a love affair dispute, the procuratorate made a final sentencing recommendation for life imprisonment for the suspect after he had admitted to his crime truthfully, accepted the charges pressed by the investigation agency, showed his sincere repentance to the victim’s family, provided compensation for his crime, and the victim’s family had accepted the suspect’s apology and compensation and reached a dispute settlement. The court ultimately accepted the sentencing recommendation. This case demonstrates that there is no restriction on the scope of cases and the stage of litigation in the application of the guilty plea and leniency system. For felony cases such as murder, if the suspects plead guilty, the guilty plea and leniency system may still apply and a final recommendation on sentencing may still be made. This is conducive to rehabilitation and to encourage sincere repentance, thereby promoting the resolution of social conflicts, settle cases and conserve judicial resources.