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First Criminal Interrogation Accompanied by Legal Aid Attorney Program
  • Service Introduction

    To balance the disparity in legal knowledge between the public and crime investigation authorities and to protect people’s rights to defend their cases, on September 17, 2007, LAF launched the "First Criminal Interrogation Accompanied by Legal Aid Attorney Program" ("First Interrogation Program"). Suspects of felony punishable by a minimum sentence of not less than three years’ imprisonment who are apprehended or arrested or are requested to be interrogated for the first time without a summon or notice may apply for the service. LAF provides a 24/7 service of legal aid attorneys’ company during interrogations. 

    On January 25, 2013, the amended Article 31 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was implemented. Regarding all those who are unable to fully express themselves due to mental retardation or those with indigenous identity recognized by the Aborigine Status Law and have not appointed defense attorneys for interrogation, regardless of being involved in crimes punishable by a minimum sentence of no less than three years' imprisonment or not, the police unit and the prosecutor shall notify LAF to appoint an accompanying attorney for the interrogation. Therefore, the Program expanded the scope of aid recipients, and assisted in appointing attorneys in emergency situations to accompany the interrogation. 

    Service Outcome

    Since LAF test launched the First Interrogation Program, there has been a stable amount of cases every year. Since the implementation of the amended Article 31 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the applications and number of accompanying attorneys in the past two years have increased significantly, and social concern is raised as well. 

    Regarding the number of cases, from the launch until December 31, 2014, a total of 8,354 applications for accompanying attorney was accepted; among them 4,921 cases qualified for the application and LAF appointed attorneys to accompany the people in the interrogation. In 2014, a total of 2,765 applications for accompanying attorney were accepted; among them 1,168 cases qualified for the application and LAF appointed attorneys to accompany the people in the interrogation. The success rate of case assignment reached 98.15% (1168/1190=0.98151). 

    Future Outlook

    In addition to steadily increase the number of applications, the main planning of the First Interrogation Program for 2015 includes: 

    1. Discuss how to reduce the failure to appoint attorneys to accompany the interrogation: 
      When people or related government units file an application to LAF, if an attorney is not appointed for the interrogation, it may affect the willingness to apply or to refer cases in the future. In order to solve this problem, LAF actively investigated the reason of failure to assign cases in a timely manner and sought reasonable solutions. Except for certain regions where geographical reasons cause difficulty in case assignment, LAF continues to discuss: 

      (A)Reasonably adjust the accompanying attorney's remuneration 
      (B)Subsidize the attorney's transportation expenses 
      (C)Test launches shift system of attorneys at police stations 
      (D)In addition to defense cases under investigation after the first interrogation not counting towards the 24 cases stated in Article 7, Paragraph 3 of the LAF attorney assignment guidelines, a discussion is also made on the possibility to increase case assignments, in hopes of increasing the attorneys' willingness to accompany the interrogation. 
    2. Strengthen promotional literature and cooperate with related groups on promotion:
      In order to facilitate the public's understanding of the First Interrogation Program, LAF actively conducted various promotional activities, including the preparation of promotional literature and the distribution of such to convenient stores, the Branch Offices, police stations, District Prosecutors Office, courts, Special Education School for the Mentally Retarded and hospitals to be displayed so that the public awareness of human rights and law system can be enhanced. LAF also cooperated with Judicial Reform Foundation and national and local bar associations to invite speakers to conduct training for accompanying attorneys in the northern, middle and southern regions and jointly printed manuals on " ADVISING A SUSPECT IN THE POLICE STATION: MANUAL FOR ATTORNEYS " to be put on display so that accompanying attorneys' abilities can be enhanced and more attorneys will join the program through the promotion. 

      It has been seven years since the launch of the "First Interrogation Program" in 2007, from the test launch stage to the increase in cases, simplification of application and case assignment, expansion of scope, to the expansion in 2014, where additions of practical applications such as the "Habeas Corpus Accompanied by Legal Aid Attorney Program" and the Assignment of Attorney to Criminal Investigation Defense Cases Derived from Charity Campaigns of Social Concern Program were approved by the Board of Directors of LAF. This has transformed the First Interrogation Program from routine business to adaptations in response to social needs and law amendments. In the mean time, we hope to keep updating and vitalizing the Program so that it can be a defense line to assist the disadvantaged and to defend human rights.

    Legal Aid Case

    Miss Yeh has moderate mental retardation and psychiatric disorder. One day she had an altercation with someone on the bus. The two were pulling at each other. The other party charged her with an offense of causing bodily harm. In the police station, Yeh could barely understand the police officer's questioning due to her mental condition. The officer notified the Keelung Branch Office of LAF, asking for an attorney to assist in the interrogation. The Keelung Branch immediately notified an attorney to go to the police station. With the attorney's company, the police were finally able to take her statement. After understanding the situation, the attorney advised Yeh to get a medical examination and to press assault charges on the other party based on the results of the examination to defend her basic rights.