Thailand History

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The Criminal Code listed twelve kinds of offenses categorized as felonies. The first consisted of crimes against the security of the kingdom, including those against the royal family, treason, espionage, and acts that damaged friendly relations with foreign countries. Crimes relating to public administration, such as malfeasance in office and offenses against public officials, constituted a second major category. Crimes relating to justice, such as perjury or offenses against the police or the judiciary, formed a third major group. Other felonies included crimes against Buddhism; acts against public order and safety; offenses relating to the counterfeiting of money, seals, stamps, and documents; crimes against trade, including the use of false weights and measures and misrepresentation of goods; sexual offenses; crimes against the person; crimes against liberty and reputation, such as false imprisonment, kidnapping, and libel; crimes against property; and offenses such as misappropriation and receipt of stolen property. The code also listed a wide assortment of petty offenses that were classed as misdemeanors, defined officially as violations punishable by imprisonment for not more than one month, a modest fine, or both.

Five penalties for violating the code’s various provisions were stipulated: death, imprisonment, detention (restricted residence), fines, and forfeiture of property to the state. The death sentence was mandatory for murder or attempted murder of any member of the royal family or for any offense likely to endanger the life of a king; murder of a public official or anyone assisting a public official in the performance of his or her duty; murder committed in perpetrating another offense or in an attempt to escape punishment; matricide or patricide; premeditated murder; or murder accompanied by torture. Other homicides could be punished by death but usually brought only imprisonment. Execution was carried out by a firing squad. A sentence of life imprisonment usually meant incarceration for twenty years, the maximum prison term.

Children under eight years of age were not subject to criminal penalties. Juveniles between the ages of seven and fifteen were not fined or imprisoned but could be restricted to their homes, placed on probation, or sent to a vocational training school. Juvenile delinquents were, however, admonished by the court, and their parents were required to show that they had taken measures to ensure against repeated violations. Offenses committed by minors between the ages of fifteen and seventeen resulted in fines or periods of confinement amounting to one-half the penalties prescribed for adults committing the same crimes.

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