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Rules Concerning Questions About

Examining and Judging Evidence in Death Penalty Cases

 

     In order to handle death penalty cases, punish crime, and protect human rights with fairness and caution and in accordance with the law, these rules are established in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC and other relevant legal provisions and in combination with legal practice.

 

I. General Provisions

Article 1 The Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law must be strictly implemented in handling death penalty cases in order to ensure the casesí quality and that the facts are clear, the evidence is credible and sufficient, procedures are legal, and the law is applied correctly.

Article 2 The facts used to determine guilt in a case must be based on evidence.

Article 3 [Police] investigators, procurators, and judicial officers shall stringently obey legal procedure and fully and objectively collect, examine, verify, and make determinations about evidence.

 

Article 4 Only evidence that has been examined and verified to be true through an investigation process in court involving presentation, identification, and cross-examination may be used as a basis for conviction and determining sentence.

Article 5 In death penalty cases, determination of the facts of the defendantís crime must be based on credible, abundant evidence.
     Credible, abundant evidence means:

     (1) All of the facts used to convict and determine sentence are proven by evidence;
     (2) Each item of evidence used in conviction must have undergone a legal process [by which it is] examined and verified to be true;
     (3) There is no contradiction between items of evidence or between an item of evidence and the facts of the case, unless the contradiction can be reasonably ruled out;
     (4) In cases involving offenses committed jointly, a defendantís position and role [in the crime] have been fully examined;
     (5) The process of determining the facts of the case based on evidence comports with logic and empirical rules, and the conclusion drawn from the evidence is the only one [possible].

     In handling death penalty cases, proof of each of the following facts must be based on credible, abundant evidence:

     (1) [Whether] the crime charged was committed;
     (2) [Whether] a defendant committed the criminal act and the time, place, manner, consequence, and other details of the criminal act committed by that defendant;
     (3) Circumstances regarding a defendantís identity that have an influence on conviction;
     (4) [Whether] the defendant possesses criminal responsibility;
     (5) The defendantís culpability;
     (6) Whether the offense was committed jointly and what the defendantís position and role was in that joint offense;
     (7) Facts warranting heavier punishment for the defendant.

 

II. Examination and Determination of Different Types of Evidence

1. Physical and Documentary Evidence

Article 6 In examining physical or documentary evidence, emphasis shall be placed on the following:
     (1) Whether the physical evidence is the original object or the documentary evidence is the original document; whether photographs, video recordings, or replicas of physical evidence or duplicates or facsimiles of documentary evidence match the original items or documents; whether physical or documentary evidence has been identified and verified; whether photographs, video recordings, or replicas of physical evidence or duplicates or facsimiles of documentary evidence were reproduced by more than two people; whether the producer has a signed, written explanation concerning the production process and the location of the original document or item.

     (2) Whether the procedure and methods of collection for physical or documentary evidence are in compliance with the law and relevant regulations; whether physical or documentary evidence that was obtained through on-scene investigation, inspection, search, or confiscation have corresponding records or invoices; whether the records or invoices are signed by [police] investigators, the persons who possessed the items, and witnesses, and whether an explanation is provided if the signature of the person who possessed the items is absent; whether the distinguishing features, number, quality, and names of the items are clearly described.
     (3) Whether physical or documentary evidence was damaged or altered in the process of collection, storage, or authentication.
     (4) Whether physical or documentary evidence has any relation to the facts of a case. Whether biological evidence, traces, or items left at the scene and related to the crime, such as bloodstains, fingerprints, hair samples, or bodily fluids, that satisfy the conditions for testing have undergone DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, or other testing methods, and whether they have been determined to match relevant biological samples, biological characteristics, or items from the defendant or victim.
     (5) Whether all physical or documentary evidence related to the facts of a case has been collected in full.
 

Article 7 If any bloodstains, fingerprints, footprints, handwriting samples, hair samples, bodily fluids, human organs, or other traces or items possibly related to the facts of a case are discovered through on-scene investigation, inspection, or search and either ought to have been recovered but were not or ought to have been tested but were not, with the result being that there remain doubts about the facts of the case, the peopleís court shall explain the situation to the peopleís procuratorate, and the peopleís procuratorate may additionally collect or obtain evidence and produce a reasonable explanation or return the case to the investigating organ to conduct additional investigation or obtain relevant evidence.

Article 8 Physical evidence used as a basis for conviction should be the original item. Only when the original item is inconvenient to transport or difficult to preserve, or, in accordance with the law, must be kept in storage or disposed of by the relevant department or returned may a photo or video recording be shot or a replica produced that reflects the original likeness or content. A photograph, video recording, or replica of physical evidence may serve as a basis for conviction only after having been compared with the original item and found to have no errors, subjected to authentication as true, or undergone some other method able to prove it to be a true [copy]. Any photograph, video recording, or replica that does not reflect the original likeness and distinguishing features of the original may not serve as a basis for conviction.
     Documentary evidence used as a basis for conviction should be the original item. Duplicates or facsimiles may only be used when there is real difficulty in obtaining the original document. Duplicates or facsimiles of documentary evidence may serve as the basis for conviction only after having been compared with the original items and found to have no errors, subjected to authentication as true, or undergone some other method able to prove it to be a true [copy]. Any documentary evidence that has been altered or shows traces of alteration that cannot be reasonably explained or any duplicate or facsimile of documentary evidence that does not reflect the original document and its content may not serve as a basis for conviction.

 

 

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