Types of Criminal Punishments in Thailand

If you commit a crime in Thailand, the Thai Criminal Code lists several possible punishments. This article gives a short review on the possible punishments, that are included in the Thai Criminal Code.

According to section 18 of the Criminal Code, the possible punishments that may be imposed are:

  1. Death
  2. Imprisonment
  3. Confinement
  4. Fine
  5. Forfeiture of property

Capital punishment in Thailand is enforced by lethal injection. The death penalty is not imposed immediately. There is a delay because a convict can appeal to two more courts and can apply for King’s pardon. The death punishment is carried out in the Bang Kwang Prison in Bangkok (also known as “Bangkok Hilton”).

Unlike to many European countries and some federal states in the U.S., life imprisonment in Thailand means imprisonment for the rest of the lifetime of the convict. In Europe and the United States, life imprisonment allows the possibility of future parole if the criminal is deemed to no longer a danger to society.

The punishment of imprisonment begins from the day on which the judgement is passed. The days the convicted person was in custody before the judgement of the court will be deducted from the sentenced period of imprisonment.

If a prison sentence does not exceed three months, the court can impose the punishment of confinement instead imprisonment. However it is required that the person has not been to prison before.

The capital punishment and the life imprisonment are not imposed on offenders less than 18 years of age. In this case, those punishments are commuted to an imprisonment of 50 years.

If the law determines that commitment is punishable with either imprisonment or a fine, the court may decide to combine both sanctions or impose a penalty for only one charge, according to Section 20 of the Thai Criminal Code.

The punishment of confinement is regulated in Sections 23 to 27 of the Thai Criminal Code. The court determines the place of confinement. It can be anyplace which is not a prison, police station or a place used by the police to detain accused persons in custody. The court can even rule that the place of the confinement can be the dwelling of the offender. If the court determines that the place of confinement has to be the dwelling of another person, this person has to agree. The determined place of confinement can be changed afterwards.

The court can impose conditions on the sentenced person and appoint a supervisor, who then is treated as an official according to the Criminal Code. The convict has to work according to the imposed conditions and regulations. If allowed, the convict can continue his or her previous occupation. If the convict violates any of the conditions or regulations, or commits a crime again, the court can change the punishment of confinement into the punishment of imprisonment.

If a person receives fine, he or she has to pay the determined amount of money to the court. If the person fails to pay the fine, the Thai authorities will seize his or her property or the person will be confined. One day of confinement will then be counted as the payment of 200 THB.

If the fine does not exceed 80,000 THB and if the convict is not able to pay the fine, the judgement can be changed to community services or public benefit services. The personal circumstances of the convict determine the kind of service or work the person has to do. Healthy people will be treated differently from people suffering from any kind of diseases. Old people will be treated differently from young people. One day of working or service will be counted as the payment of 200 THB.

Another possible punishment that may be sentenced is forfeiture. Subject to forfeiture are items which people are not allowed to possess by law (like drugs) and things that are used or possessed for the use in the commission of an offence (e.g. the weapon used in an assault). Furthermore, something that a person acquires through the commitment of a crime are to be forfeited unless those things do not belong to anyone else.

In the Thai Criminal Code, items used in the commission of a crime shall be forfeited (e.g. the acceptance or performance of a bribe, according to section 34, sections 149 – 150). Forfeited things will become property of the Government of Thailand, if the court does not decide to destroy them. If an owner can be found later, the things shall be returned. In case a convict is not following the order for forfeiture, according to Section 37, the court is empowered with several rights to prosecute the forfeiture.

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Category: Criminal Law, Litigation

Ulrich Schmitt

About the Author (Author Profile)

Mr. Ulrich Schmitt is currently a legal intern at Siam Legal International in Bangkok. He is a graduate of the University of Trier, Germany with a state examination in German Law. He is currently in the process of completing his second state exam at the Judicial District of the Provincial High Court and Court of Appeals in Koblenz, Germany.