Criminal and Civil Cases in Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand has a civil law system with some influences from the codified systems of continental Europe. Its courts are inquisitorial and lack a trial by jury.

Suspects can be held without official charges for up to 48 hours and bail is not normally granted. If you find yourself detained in Thailand it is essential that you have a lawyer.

Civil Cases

The courts in Thailand are based on civil law. There is no jury system and the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many types of cases heard in Thai courts including disputes over real estate, divorce, employment, slander and malicious prosecution.

A prevailing party in a civil case can claim attorneys’ fees. However, this is rarely awarded in practice.

The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court (Dika) have jurisdiction over appeals from decisions made by the Court of First Instance. Cases involving specialized courts such as the labor court, intellectual property court and bankruptcy court may also be appealed to the Dika.

Some of the more serious complaints that have been reported to the court include instances of extortion targeting foreign workers in Thailand. There are also reports of governmental corruption and deteriorating governance in the country. Despite these issues, the judicial system in Thailand has made strides to improve efficiency and consistency.

Criminal Cases

In Thailand, the burden of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Prosecution for crime in Thailand is the responsibility of various government organizations, including the Royal Thai Police, Office of the Attorney General and the Courts of Justice.

In addition to the Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal and Supreme (Dika) Court, there are specialized courts such as the Tax Court, Labor Court, Intellectual Property and International Trade Court and Bankruptcy Court. These specialized courts are adjudicated by expert judges under specific procedure laws. Appeals from specialized court decisions are made to the Supreme (Dika) Court.

Civil actions are lawsuits filed for the enforcement or protection of a right, and the prevention or redressing of a wrong. They can cover a wide range of matters such as property and commercial disputes, employment actions, divorces and torts (known as wrongful acts in Thai law). Unlike in common law countries, there is no jury system in Thailand.


It is important for Defendants to have access to bail to avoid detention during the criminal process. Detention is not only expensive, it may impede a Defendant’s ability to prepare his/her case or communicate with his/her lawyer and family members. It also increases poverty for a person and his/her family. Additionally, prison overcrowding is a problem in Thailand and the Government should focus on non-custodial measures to protect human dignity.

During the investigation and trial stages, it is important to be present at all hearings to ensure the opportunity to question witnesses and introduce evidence. A judge presiding over the case will determine guilt or innocence and, in the event of a guilty verdict, impose punishment. As there is no jury system in Thailand, it is up to the court to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant committed a crime and that the Defendant possessed intention or awareness. As a result, trials can often take a long time to complete and are conducted in the absence of Defendants.


The extradition process in Thailand is highly dependent on individual treaties that the nation has with foreign nations. The offenses that are considered to be extraditable must be indictable in both Thailand and the requesting country. In addition, the offender must not be charged with a political offense.

Civil cases are primarily handled by the District Courts (Kweang courts), Provincial courts, and in some cases the Supreme court. Criminal cases are primarily heard by the Courts of First Instance, and in some cases the specialized courts.

Defending against criminal litigation in Thailand requires the services of experienced local counsel who understands how the process works, and is familiar with the procedures used by the Thai courts. A capable attorney will be able to anticipate the moves of opposing counsel, and work the case in a way that minimizes surprises for their client. This will ensure the best possible outcome in the case. It will also make it easier to deal with any issues that arise during the case.

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