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President of China’s Bar Association requests Supreme Court to give judicial interpretation of Criminal Law Art. 306 on falsifying evidence

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Yu Ning, President of China’s National Bar Association submits proposal to the Supreme Court to give judicial interpretation on Article 306 of the Criminal Law:

Article 306. During the course of criminal procedure, any defender, law agent destroys, falsifies evidence, assist parties concerned in destroying, falsifying evidence, threatening, luring witnesses to contravene facts, change their testimony or make false testimony is to be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention; when the circumstances are severe, to not less than three years and not more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment. If witnesses, testimonies, or other evidences provided, shown, used by a defender, law agent are not true but are not falsified purposely, they do not fall into the category of falsifying evidences.

This proposal comes at the fallout of Li Zhuang case, in which a prominent criminal defense lawyer was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment (on second trial) for falsifying evidence and obstructing witnessing. Background of the Li Zhuang case here; for more on the lawyer’s case with China’s political faction, heritage, see John Garnaut’s piece here; commentary (in Chinese) by Donald Clarke, China law expert and Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School.

Yu states that from a legislative perspective, this article is about ‘defender’ in general, but since most defenders are lawyers, it is de facto discriminatory to lawyers because the lack of clarity and specification lead to in actu an expansion of interpretation in most judicial practices, which results in lawyers’ reluctance to do criminal defense. As a consequence, many high-profile criminal cases were not able to receive adequate defense.

Yu summarizes four problems with Article 306:

1. unclear distinction of the three violations: A. the defender/law agent himself destroying, falsifying evidence; B. the defender/law agent himself assist the accused to destroy, falsify evidence; C. the defender/law agent threaten, lure witnesses to contravene facts, change their testimony or make false testimony. The objects of the three should not be mixed: the first two are about the physical destruction and falsification of material evidence, while the third is about oral evidence. Yet in practice, they are often been confused with each other, sometimes a lawyer’s legal consultation was interpreted as the influencing the oral evidence and the lawyer was to be accused of assisting in falsifying evidence

2. unclear definition of the crime as behavioral crime or consequential crime leads to expanded application. Art. 306 paragraph 1 does not specify whether it is a behavioral crime or a consequential crime; paragraph 2 stipulates, from a negative sense, that only untrue ‘witnesses, testimonies, or other evidences provided, shown, used’ on purpose constitute crime, hence ‘provide, shown, use’ are the necessary actions of the crime – without which there is no crime. Therefore from the two paragraphs, it could be deduced that Article 306 is a consequential crime, but again, in judicial practice, even intentions of such could be convicted as crime.

3. within consequential crime, the line between ‘crime of intent consequence’ and the ‘crime of established consequence’ remains unclear. An example of the former would be searching for people to provide false witness, seeking falsified interrogation, but if none of these succeeded, does it still constitute a crime? Or, even when succeeded, neither the witness or the falsified report was submitted to court or exert any influence, does it still constitute a crime?

4. the legal boundaries of the lawyers’ rights in consultation, meeting and investigation are unclear. For instance, it is unclear whether it is legal for lawyers to provide legal assistance to the accused, to advice on and inform the accused of their right to complaint; whether it is legal for lawyers to read to his client the oral evidence provided by other accused in order to verify; whether it is legal for lawyers to investigate the evidence he/she acquired, etc. Without a clear definition of the boundaries in which lawyers can do or can’t do something, it is very difficult for them to carry out the work.

Below is the full text of Yu’s proposal to the Supreme Court:

于宁会长的政协提案草案

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全国政协会议的提案,今天下午已经截止。全国政协委员、全国律协于宁会长原准备向大会提交三份提案,最后只提交了二份。一份是《关于发挥律师专业优势改进企业登记管理工作的提案》和《关于进一步完善新股发行制度的提案》。关于要求最高法院对《刑法》306条进行限制解释的提案没有正式提交,准备会后直接向最高法院提出。没有正式作为提案的原因,于会长告是因为本次会议上该问题已经成了新闻媒介追问的一个焦点,过于敏感,提出可能易起副作用。另行会外提交效果可能更好些。现将于会长准备提交最高法院的建议稿,经其授权在此公布。于会长委托我草拟并一起商讨过的原稿也附在后面。

准备会后直接向最高法院提交的建议案:

中华人民共和国政治协商会议委员建议案

关于建议最高人民法院

对《中华人民共和国刑法》第三百零六条

作出司法解释的提案

提案人:于宁 全国政协委员、中华全国律师协会会长

承办单位:最高人民法院

提案内容:

《刑法》、《刑诉法》两法实施以来,我国的刑事法律规范体系日益完备。为惩治犯罪、确保国家长治久安、保护人民群众生命财产安全发挥了重要作用。但是,个别条款如《刑法》三零六条在司法实践中的不统一不严谨已经产生了严重的后果,有必要请最高人民法院对这一条款作出限制性司法解释。

一、进行司法解释的必要性

《刑法》三百零六条规定的“辩护人伪造证据妨害作证罪”从立法角度看,针对的是辩护人,但由于担当辩护人的主要是律师,这就使得该条款实际成为排除参与刑事诉讼的其他职业外,唯一的针对律师的一种歧视性条款。由于该法条立法含义不够明晰,犯罪构成的外延无严格限定,一些有权机构在司法实践中多作扩大理解,多年来已经造成了严重的后果。全国律协的统计表明,在被306条追究的案件中,错案是很多的。由于该条款规定的行为界限和行为后果不明确,律师担心在刑事辩护中受到追究,律师担当刑事辩护顾虑重重,律师刑辩积极性严重下降,大量刑事案得不到高质量的辩护。如陕西省,从2006年以来,律师的刑辩出庭率一直在急剧下降,律师平均办案从2003年的1.56件下降到2006年的1.16件。据统计,北京律师年人均办理刑事案件数量已下降到不足1件。越来越多的律师不想做刑事案件。曾有呼声和修法建议提出考虑废止该法条,但在目前各方还没有达成共识之前,该条款仍然有存在的价值,毕竟我国的刑事辩护制度还需要在实践中积累经验和教训。但为避免不同司法机关对该条款的不同的过于宽泛的理解,特别是扩大性解释,我们希望由最高人民法院尽快进行规范解释,明确犯罪构成,限定适用范围,以防止立法歧义造成的适法扩大化、导致错案的现象。

二、存在的问题

刑法306条法律含义和构成要件界限模糊。主要体现在以下几方面:

第一、适用三种对象和方式没有严格分清。306条规制的行为对象有三种:一是辩护人本人毁证伪造证据;二是帮助被告人毁证伪造证据;三是引诱证人改变证言或作伪证。这三者犯罪特征不重合。前两个主要是对有物质载体的有形的证据的毁证、伪造;后一个主要是对言辞证据的影响。但是在司法实踐中,有形证据的毁灭、伪造,和无形的言辞口供的影响被混淆,导致对被告的法律帮助也被理解为是影响口供证据的帮助伪证罪。

第二、本罪行为犯和结果犯不明确,易扩大打击面。306条第一款没有写明行为犯还是结果犯,但第二款从排除犯罪角度写明了是要有行为成就才构成犯罪:“辩护人提供、出示、引用的证人证言或者其他证据失实,不是有意伪造的,不属于伪造证据”。这是排除犯罪的情况,但也告诉我们只有“故意伪造”的“提供、出示、引用的证人证言或者其他证据失实”,才构成犯罪。因此,“提供、出示、引用” 行为,是本案主体构成犯罪的必备行为要件。没有“提供、出示、引用”的,不构成犯罪。结合一、二款从正反两方面的表述,可以理解306条是结果犯罪。但是,司法实踐中对仅有意图,没有提供、出示、引用证据,甚至没有向法庭提交过证据的情况,以行为甚至未完全成就的行为也可能定罪,和306条表述不直接明了有一定的关系,由于没有明确的司法解释,导致打击扩大化。

第三,行为犯中“行为意图犯”、“行为成就犯”界线模糊。即使在行为犯理解中,也分为两种情形:一种是“行为意图”,即通过人去找伪证的证人、取伪证的证言笔录,但实际没有找到,证人没有上庭,笔录没有做过。这算不算构成犯罪?一种是已经找到,也做了笔录,但没有送上法庭,还没有影响法庭,算不算犯罪?

第四、律师提供法律帮助、会见、调查中的权限界线不明。如会见中律师对被告的法律帮助及提示和告知控告权;向被告宣读其他同案犯口供进行核对;律师取到的证据进行事实核实;律师宣读当事人自己口供进行核实,等等,律师可否从事这些行为,这些行为的界限是什么,没有明确界定,律师难以工作。

以上问题的存在严重影响了刑事辩护律师的工作积极性,影响了律师执业权利保障,进而一定程度影响了我国刑事司法的质量,因此亟需进行完善。

三、建议

我国已步入法治轨道,我国17万律师是国家法制建设中的一支重要力量。中央也一直高度重视这支队伍建设。重视律师工作权利,实际上就是重视基本公民权利保障,是贯彻科学发展观、建设和谐社会的重要一环。为此,本委员建议请最高人民法院就此问题调研,尽快对《刑法》三百零六条作出规制性司法解释,以保障法律的正确实施,切实维护刑事辩护制度。

全国政协委员、中华全国律师协会会长

于 宁

提案时间:2010年3月3日星期三

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