Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China

Updated: 2020-12-26

Chapter III Criminal Punishment

Section 1 Types of Criminal Punishment

Article 32 Criminal punishment is classified into principal punishment and supplementary punishment.

Article 33 The types of principal punishment are as follows:

(1) non-custodial correction;

(2) short-term custody;

(3) fixed-term imprisonment;

(4) life imprisonment; and

(5) death penalty.

Article 34 The types of supplementary punishment are as follows:

(1) fines;

(2) deprivation of political rights; and

(3) confiscation of property.

Supplementary punishment may be imposed independently.

Article 35 Deportation may be imposed independently or additionally on a foreigner who commits a crime.

Article 36 Where a victim suffers economic losses as a result of a criminal act, the offender shall, in addition to being subjected to criminal punishment in accordance with the law, be sentenced to pay compensation for the economic losses according to the situation.

If an offender liable for civil compensation is also sentenced to pay a fine but his property is not sufficient to pay both, or if he is also sentenced to confiscation of property, he shall first bear the liability for civil compensation to the victim.

Article 37 Where the circumstances of a crime are minor and the imposition of a criminal punishment is not necessary, the offender may be exempted from criminal punishment; however, depending on the situation of the case, he may be given a reprimand, be ordered to make a statement of repentance, offer an apology or pay compensation for losses, or be subjected to administrative penalties or sanctions by the competent department.

Article 37a Where an offender is sentenced to criminal punishment for a crime he has committed by taking advantage of his occupation, or for violating the specific obligations required by his occupation, the people's court may, based on the situation with reference to the crime and the need for prevention of repeat offenses, prohibit him from engaging in relevant professions within 3 to 5 years, counting from the date when he finishes serving his sentence or he is released on parole.

Whoever is prohibited from engaging in certain professions but violates the decision made by the people's court according to the provisions of the preceding paragraph shall be punished by the public security organ. If the circumstances are serious, the person shall be convicted and punished in accordance with Article 313 of this Law.

Where there are prohibitive or restrictive provisions in other laws or administrative regulations governing the offender’s engagement in relevant professions, such provisions shall prevail.

Section 2 Non-Custodial Correction

Article 38 The term of non-custodial correction shall be not less than 3 months but not more than 2 years.

An offender sentenced to non-custodial correction may, according to the situation of the crime, be given an injunction restricting him from engaging in certain activities, entering certain areas or premises, or having contacts with certain persons during the term of non-custodial correction.

The offender sentenced to non-custodial correction shall be subjected to community correction in accordance with the law.

Any offender who violates the injunction prescribed in the second paragraph of this Article shall be punished by the public security organ in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security.

Article 39 An offender sentenced to non-custodial correction shall abide by the following rules while serving his term:

(1) abiding by laws and administrative regulations and submitting himself to supervision;

(2) obtaining approval from the executing authority before exercising the rights to freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, procession and demonstration;

(3) reporting his activities in accordance with the rules of the executing authority;

(4) observing the rules of the executing authority on meeting with visitors; and

(5) reporting to and obtaining approval from the executing authority before any departure from the city or county he lives in and for any change in residence.

An offender sentenced to non-custodial correction shall receive equal pay for equal work.

Article 40 Upon the expiration of the term of the non-custodial correction, the executing authority shall announce the termination of the non-custodial correction to the offender himself and to the entity he belongs to or the community he lives in.

Article 41 The term of non-custodial correction is calculated from the date when the judgment begins to be executed. Where an offender is already held in custody before the execution of the judgment, one day in custody is counted as two days of the term sentenced.

Section 3 Short-Term Custody

Article 42 The term of short-term custody is not less than 1 month but not more than 6 months.

Article 43 The sentence of short-term custody of an offender shall be executed by the public security organ in the vicinity.

During the period of execution, the offender sentenced to short-term custody may go home for 1 to 2 days each month. When engaged in work, he may receive an appropriate pay.

Article 44 The term of short-term custody is calculated from the date when the judgment begins to be executed. Where an offender is held in custody before the execution of the judgment, one day in custody is counted as one day of the term sentenced.

Section 4 Fixed-Term Imprisonment and Life Imprisonment

Article 45 The term of fixed-term imprisonment is not less than 6 months but not more than 15 years, except as provided in Articles 50 and 69 of this Law.

Article 46 An offender sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment or life imprisonment shall serve his sentence in prison or another execution premise; anyone who is able to work shall engage in work for the purpose of education and rehabilitation.

Article 47 The term of fixed-term imprisonment is calculated from the date when the judgment begins to be executed. Where the offender is already held in custody before the execution of the judgment, one day in custody is counted as one day of the term sentenced.

Section 5 Death Penalty

Article 48 Death penalty applies only to an offender who commits extremely serious crimes. Where the immediate execution of death sentence is not deemed necessary, a two-year reprieve may be announced at the same time the death sentence is imposed.

Except for judgments rendered by the Supreme People’s Court in accordance with the law, all death sentences shall be submitted to the Supreme People’s Court for verification and approval. A death sentence with reprieve may be decided upon or be verified and approved by a high people's court.

Article 49 Death penalty shall not be imposed upon a person under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime or upon a woman who is pregnant at the time of trial.

Death penalty shall not be imposed upon a person aged 75 or above at the time of trial, except where he has caused the death of another person by extremely cruel means.

Article 50 Where an offender sentenced to death with reprieve commits no intentional crime during the reprieve period, his death sentence shall be commuted to life imprisonment upon the expiration of the two-year reprieve. If the offender has carried out major meritorious performance during the reprieve period, the death sentence shall be commuted to fixed-term imprisonment of 25 years upon the expiration of the two-year reprieve. If the offender commits an intentional crime with grave circumstances during the reprieve period, the death penalty shall be executed upon verification and approval by the Supreme People's Court. If, despite an intentional crime committed during the reprieve period, death penalty is not to be executed, the reprieve period shall be calculated anew and the case shall be reported to the Supreme People's Court for the record.

When imposing death with reprieve on a recidivist or an offender of intentional homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, arson, explosion, releasing hazardous substances, or organized violent crime, the people’s court may, based on the circumstances of the crime and other factors, concurrently decide to impose restrictions on commutation.

Article 51 The period of reprieve for the death penalty is calculated from the date when the judgment becomes final. The term of fixed-term imprisonment commuted from the death penalty with reprieve is counted from the date when the period of reprieve expires.

Section 6 Fines

Article 52 The amount of a fine shall be determined according to the circumstances of the crime.

Article 53 A fine shall be paid in a lump sum or in installments within the period specified in a judgment. If an offender fails to pay upon the expiration of that period, the fine shall be enforced. If an offender is unable to pay the fine in full, the people’s court shall demand the payment whenever it finds that he holds executable property.

If an offender truly has difficulties in paying the fine due to an irresistible calamity or for other reasons, the payment of the fine may be postponed, or the fine may be reduced as appropriate or be remitted upon a ruling of the people’s court.

Section 7 Deprivation of Political Rights

Article 54 Deprivation of political rights refers to the deprivation of the following rights:

(1) the right to vote and stand for election;

(2) the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, procession and demonstration;

(3) the right to hold a position in a state organ; and

(4) the right to hold a leading position in a state-owned company, enterprise or public institution, or a people’s organization.

Article 55 The term of deprivation of political rights is not less than 1 year but not more than 5 years, except as otherwise provided in Article 57 of this Law.

Where a sentence of deprivation of political rights is imposed as a supplementary punishment in addition to a sentence of non-custodial correction, the term of deprivation of political rights shall be as long as the term of non-custodial correction and the punishments shall be executed concurrently.

Article 56 An offender who has committed the crime of endangering national security shall be sentenced to deprivation of political rights as a supplementary punishment. An offender who has committed intentional homicide, rape, arson, explosion, poisoning, robbery, or other crimes, which seriously undermines the public order, may be sentenced to deprivation of political rights as a supplementary punishment.

Where deprivation of political rights is independently imposed upon an offender, relevant provisions in the Specific Provisions of this Law shall apply.

Article 57 An offender sentenced to death or life imprisonment shall be deprived of political rights for life.

Where death penalty with reprieve is commuted to fixed-term imprisonment or where life imprisonment is commuted to fixed-term imprisonment, the term of the imposed supplementary punishment of deprivation of political rights shall be modified into not less than 3 years but not more than 10 years.

Article 58 The term of the supplementary punishment of deprivation of political rights is calculated from the date when the execution of imprisonment or short-term custody finishes, or from the date when parole begins. Deprivation of political rights shall, as a matter of course, be in effect during the period in which the principal punishment is being executed.

An offender who is deprived of political rights shall, during the period of execution, abide by laws, administrative regulations, and relevant rules on supervision and administration made by the public security department under the State Council, and submit himself to supervision. He shall not exercise any of the rights specified in Article 54 of this Law during the period of execution.

Section 8 Confiscation of Property

Article 59 Confiscation of property refers to the confiscation of part or all of the property personally owned by an offender. Where confiscation of all the property of an offender is imposed, certain amount of property shall be set aside for basic living of the offender himself and the family members supported by him.

When a sentence of confiscation of property is imposed, the property that the family members of the offender own or are entitled to shall not be confiscated.

Article 60 Where it is necessary to use the confiscated property to repay the legitimate debts incurred by an offender before confiscation of property, these debts shall be paid at the request of the creditors.

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