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Courts' 2nd ruling cannot be heavier than 1st: committee

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislature's Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday passed a preliminary review of an amendment of the Code for Criminal Procedure, which stipulates that the court handling the second ruling cannot pronounce a sentence — the announced sentence and the exact sentence to be served — heavier than the first ruling.

Kuomintang lawmaker Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) said that, as many people would be afraid to receive a heavier sentence in the second ruling, the design of the current regulation is meant to encourage people to appeal a ruling in his or her best interests.

Liao said, however, the current Code for Criminal Procedure does not specifically refer to the regulation on the announced sentence or the exact sentence to be served, which creates a legal loophole whereby it is possible for a defendant appealing an initial ruling in order to receive a lighter sentence to instead be handed down a heavier one.

In light of this, to further protect human rights, the essence of the amendment is to point out that the regulation is applicable to both the announced sentence and the sentence to be served, Liao said.

According to the amendment, the amended regulation is not applicable when the ruling on appeal deems the first ruling was based on an inappropriate precedent.

Liao said apart from the unclear regulations regarding rulings, the current Code for Criminal Procedures also states that prosecutors can demand defendants to pay fines for deferred prosecution to designated accounts of charitable organizations or local autonomous groups, but it should not be local prosecutors' offices that distribute such huge monetary resources.

The amendment stipulates that defendants should pay the fines of deferred prosecution to national coffers, then the prosecutors' office in charge of the case can allocate a certain ratio of the fine from the national coffers to charitable organizations or local autonomous groups in accordance with the law, Liao said.

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