Although a written criminal appeal filed by a party for the purpose of appeal is not personally drafted by the party, if such party is aware that he/she has confessed his/her offense while asserting his/her litigation rights, the written appeal then constitutes a statement to the court; and if the court has shown the written appeal to the party for his/her identification and opinion, the written appeal may be lawfully adopted as a fact-finding proof (Taiwan)

Oli Wong

The Supreme Court rendered the 108-Tai-Shang-114-Zi Criminal Decision of April 10, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that although a written criminal appeal filed by a party for the purpose of appeal is not personally drafted by the party, if such party is aware that he/she has confessed his/her offense while asserting his/her litigation rights, the written appeal then constitutes a statement to the court; and if the court has shown the written appeal to the party for his/her identification and opinion, the written appeal may be lawfully adopted as a fact-finding proof.

According to the facts underlying this Decision, the original decision set aside the first instance decision in which imprisonment was imposed on the Appellant (i.e., first instance Defendant) and determined, instead, that an intensified penalty due to ideal concurrence shall be imposed on the Defendant for an offense of recidivism involving first grade drug along with the confiscation and destruction of the drug.  Still dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed based solely on the testimonies of witnesses in this case without other evidence.  In addition, since the second instance written appeal was drafted by another person and did not reflect his true intent, the written appeal could not be relied on to support the testimonies of the witnesses as evidence for a guilty decision.

It was first pointed out in the Decision that there were still a urine test report and the Appellant’s confession in his reasons for the written second instance criminal appeal, which could also serve as evidence in addition to the testimonies of the witnesses in this case and were identified, rejected and explained based on materials in the court files.  Based on formal observation, the original decision did not violate any law or regulation.

It was further pointed out in this Decision that the original trial court showed the Appellant’s written second instance appeal for his appeal and asked for his opinion during trial, the Appellant stated that “I asked someone else to draft this for me, and the reason I want to indicate in the written appeal is that I am innocent and that I did not do this.  The person who prepared this for me said that he would draft the written appeal like that first before explaining to the judge… I do not want to confess now.  I never committed the crime.”  This shows that the Appellant filed the second instance appeal based on such written appeal.  Even though he did not draft it, since he was aware of his confession of the crime and still asserted his litigation rights, this would constitute a statement to the court.  Therefore, it was certainly not inappropriate for the original trial court to rely on the written appeal as a fact-finding basis after the written appeal was shown to the Appellant for his identification and opinion.  Therefore, the Supreme Court held that since the Appellant’s reasons for third instance appeal only pertain to factual arguments and could not meet the statutory requirements for third instance appeal, the appeal was rejected.