THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM
Independence - Freedom - Happiness
Ha Noi, day 21 month 12 year 1999
Criminal law constitutes one of the sharp and effective instruments to prevent and combat crime, actively contributing to the defense of independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland, the protection of the interests of the State as well as the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations. It also contributes to the maintenance of social order and security and economic management order and provides security for all people to live in a safe, healthy and highly humane social and ecological environment. At the same time the criminal law actively contributes to doing away with elements which obstruct the process of renewal and national industrialization and modernization for a prosperous people, a strong country and an equitable and civilized society.
This Penal Code has been made on the basis of inheriting and promoting the principles and institutions of Vietnam’s criminal legislation, particularly the 1985 Penal Code, as well as experiences drawn from the reality of the struggle to prevent and combat crimes over many decades of the process of national construction and defense.
The Penal Code demonstrates the spirit of active prevention and resolute combat against crimes through penalties in order to deter, educate, convert and reform offenders into honest people; thereby to imbue every citizen with the spirit and sense of being masters of the society, the sense of law observance and active participation in crime prevention and combat.
To strictly implement the Penal Code is the common task of all agencies, organizations and the entire population.
Article 1.- The tasks of the Penal Code
The Penal Code has the tasks of protecting the socialist regime, the people’s mastership, equality among people of various nationalities, the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations, protecting the socialist law order, opposing all acts of criminal offense; at the same time educating people in the sense of law observance and struggle to prevent and combat crime.
In order to carry out such tasks, the Penal Code defines crimes and the penalties for offenders.
Article 2.- Basis of penal liabilities
Only those persons who have committed crimes defined by the Penal Code shall bear the penal liabilities therefore.
Article 3.- Handling principles
1. All acts of criminal offenses must be timely detected and handled in a prompt, just and enlightened manner in strict accordance with laws.
2. All offenders are equal before the law, regardless of their sex, nationality, beliefs, religion, social class and status.
To severely penalize conspirators, ringleaders, commanders, die-hard opposers, wrong-doers, hooligans, dangerous recidivists, those who have abused their positions and powers to commit crimes and those who have committed crimes with treacherous ploys, in an organized and professional manner, with intention to cause serious consequences.
To grant leniency to persons who make confessions, make honest declarations, denounce accomplices, redeem their faults with achievements, show repentance, voluntarily right themselves or make compensation for damage they have caused.
3. For first-time offenders of less serious crimes, who have shown their repentance, penalties lighter than imprisonment may be imposed, and they may be placed under the supervision and education of agencies, organizations or families.
4. For persons sentenced to imprisonment, they must be compelled to serve their sentences in detention camps, to labor and study so as to become persons useful to society; if they make marked progress, they shall be considered for commutation of their penalties.
5. Persons who have completely served their sentences shall be given conditions to work and live honestly, to integrate themselves into the community, and when they fully meet the conditions prescribed by law, their criminal records shall be wiped.
Article 4.- Responsibility to struggle for crime prevention and combat
1. The police, procuracy, court, judicial and inspection bodies and other concerned agencies shall fulfill their respective functions and tasks and at the same time guide and assist other State bodies, organizations and citizens in preventing and combating crime as well as in supervising and educating offenders at community level.
2. The agencies and organizations have a duty to educate people under their respective management in raising their vigilance, the sense of law protection and observance, and respect for the regulations of socialist life; to take timely measures to eliminate the causes of and conditions for committing crimes in their respective agencies and organizations.
3. All citizens have the obligation to actively participate in the struggle to prevent and combat crimes.
EFFECT OF THE PENAL CODE
Article 5.- The effect of the Penal Code on criminal acts committed in the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1. The Penal Code applies to all acts of criminal offenses committed in the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
2. For foreigners who commit offense in the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam but are entitled to diplomatic immunities or consular privileges and immunities under Vietnamese laws, international treaties which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has signed or acceded to or the international practices, their criminal liabilities shall be settled through diplomatic channels.
Article 6.- The effect of the Penal Code on criminal acts committed outside the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1. Vietnamese citizens who commit offenses outside the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be examined for penal liability in Vietnam according to this Code.
This provision also applies to stateless persons who permanently reside in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
2. Foreigners who commit offenses outside the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be examined for penal liability according to the Penal Code of Vietnam in circumstances provided for in the international treaties which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has signed or acceded to.
Article 7.- The temporal application of the Penal Code
1. The provision applying to a criminal act shall be the provision currently in force at the time such criminal act is committed.
2. Provisions defining a new offense, a heavier penalty, a new aggravating circumstance or restricting the scope of application of suspended sentences, the exemption of penal liability and/or penalties, the reduction of penalties or remission of criminal records, and other provisions not in favor of the offenders, shall not apply to acts of criminal offense committed before such provisions take effect.
3. Provisions canceling an offense, a penalty, an aggravating circumstance and/or defining a lighter penalty, an extenuating circumstance or broadening the scope of application of suspended sentences, the exemption of penal liability, penalties, the reduction of penalties, the remission of criminal records and other provisions in favor of the offenders, shall apply to acts of criminal offenses committed before such provisions take effect.
Article 8.- Definition of crime
1. A crime is an act dangerous to the society prescribed in the Penal Code, committed intentionally or unintentionally by a person having the penal liability capacity, infringing upon the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, infringing upon the political regime, the economic regime, culture, defense, security, social order and safety, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations, infringing upon the life, health, honor, dignity, freedom, property, as well as other legitimate rights and interests of citizens, and infringing upon other socialist legislation.
2. Based on the nature and extent of danger to the society of acts prescribed in this Code, crimes are classified into less serious crimes, serious crimes, very serious crimes and particularly serious crimes,
3. Less serious crimes are crimes which cause no great harm to society and the maximum penalty bracket for such crimes is three years of imprisonment; serious crimes are crimes which cause great harm to society and the maximum penalty bracket for such crimes is seven years of imprisonment; very serious crimes are crimes which cause very great harm to society and the maximum penalty bracket for such crimes is fifteen years of imprisonment; particularly serious crimes are crimes which cause exceptionally great harms to society and the maximum penalty bracket for such crimes shall be over fifteen years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or capital punishment.
4. Acts showing signs of crime but which pose minimal danger to society are not crimes and shall be handled by other measures.
Article 9.- Intentional commission of crimes
The intentional commission of a crime is commission of crime in the following circumstances:
1. The offenders are aware that their acts are dangerous to society, foresee the consequences of such acts and wish such consequences to occur;
2. The offenders are aware that their acts are dangerous to society, foresee the consequences that such acts may entail and do not wish, but consciously allow, such consequences to occur.
Article 10.- Unintentional commission of crimes
The unintentional commission of a crime is commission of crime in the following circumstances:
1. The offenders foresee that their acts may cause harmful consequences to society, but think that such consequences shall not occur or can be warded off;
2. The offenders do not foresee that their acts may cause harmful consequences to the society though they must have foreseen or did foresee such consequences.
Article 11.- Unexpected events
Persons who commit acts which cause harmful consequences to the society due to unexpected events, namely in circumstances which they cannot, or are not compelled to, foresee the consequences of such acts, shall not have to bear penal liability therefor.
Article 12.- Ages subject to penal liability
1. Persons aged full 16 or older shall have to bear penal liability for all crimes they commit.
2. Persons aged full 14 or older but under 16 shall have to bear penal liability for very serious crimes intentionally committed or particularly serious crimes.
Article 13.- The state of having no penal liability capacity
1. Persons who commit acts dangerous to the society while suffering from mental disease or disease which deprives them of their capability to be aware of or to control their acts, shall not have to bear penal liability therefore; to these persons, the measure of enforced hospitalization shall apply.
2. Persons who commit crimes while having penal liability but falling into the state prescribed in Clause 1, of this Article, before being sentenced, shall be subjected to enforced hospitalization. After recovering from the illness, such persons may bear penal liability.
Article 14.- Committing crimes while in the state of being intoxicated due to the use of alcohol or other strong stimulants
Persons who commit crimes while in the state of being intoxicated due to the use of alcohol or other strong stimulants shall still bear penal liability therefor.
Article 15.- Legitimate defense
1. Legitimate defense is an act of persons who, for the purpose of protecting the interests of the State and/or organizations, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of their own or other persons, need to fight against persons who are committing acts infringing upon the interests of the above-mentioned.
Legitimate defense is not a crime.
2. Acting beyond the prescribed legitimate defense limit is the act of fighting back in a manner incompatible with the nature and the extent of danger posed to the society by the act of infringement.
Persons who act beyond the limit of legitimate defense shall bear penal liability therefore.
Article 16.- Urgent circumstances
1. The urgent circumstance is the circumstance in which persons who, because of wanting to ward off a danger practically jeopardizing the interests of the State and/or organizations, the legitimate rights and interests of their own or other persons and having no other alternatives, have to cause damage smaller than the damage to be warded off.
Acts causing damage in urgent circumstances are not crimes.
2. Where the damage caused is obviously beyond the requirement of the urgent circumstance, the persons who cause such damage shall bear penal liability therefor.
Article 17.- Preparation for crime commission
Preparation for crime commission is to search for, prepare instruments or create other conditions for committing crimes.
Persons who prepare for the commission of a very serious crime or a particularly serious crime shall bear penal liability for their attempted crime.
Article 18.- Incompleted commission of a crime
Incompleted commission of a crime is an intentional commission of a crime which cannot be carried out to the end due to causes beyond the control of the offender.
Persons who commit incompleted crimes shall bear penal liability therefore.
Article 19.- Voluntary termination of unfinished crimes
To voluntarily terminate the commission of a crime is to refuse at one’s own will to carry out a crime to the end though nothing stands in the way.
A person who voluntarily terminates the commission of a crime shall be exempt from penal liability for the attempted crime; if the act actually committed fully consists of elements of another crime, such person shall bear penal liability for such crime.
Article 20.- Complicity
1. Complicity is where two or more persons intentionally commit a crime.
2. The organizers, executors, instigators and helpers are all accomplices.
The executors are those who actually carry out the crimes.
The organizers are those who mastermind, lead and direct the execution of crimes.
The instigators are those who incite, induce and encourage other persons to commit crimes.
The helpers are those who create spiritual or material conditions for the commission of crimes.
3. The organized commission of a crime is a form of complicity with close collusion among persons who jointly commit the crime.
Article 21.- Concealment of crimes
Any person who, though having not earlier promised anything, knows a crime has been committed and conceals the offender, traces and/or exhibits of the crime or commits the act of obstructing the detection, investigation and/or handling of the offender, shall bear penal liability for the concealment of crime as provided for by this Code.
Article 22.- Non-denunciation of crimes
1. Any person who knows a crime is being prepared, carried out or has been completed but fails to denounce it shall bear penal liability for having failed to denounce it as provided for in Article 313 of this Code.
2. The grand-father, grand-mother, father, mother, offspring, grandchild, sibling, wife or husband of an offender, who fails to denounce the latter’s crime, shall bear penal liability only in cases of failing to denounce crimes against national security or particularly serious crimes prescribed in Article 313 of this Code.
STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR PENAL LIABILITY EXAMINATION,
Article 23.- Statute of limitation for penal liability examination
1. The statute of limitation for penal liability examination is the time limit prescribed by this Code upon the expiry of which the offender shall not be examined for penal liability.
2. The statute of limitation for penal liability examination is stipulated as follows:
a) Five years for less serious crimes;
b) Ten years for serious crimes;
c) Fifteen years for very serious crimes;
d) Twenty years for particularly serious crimes.
3. The statute of limitation shall begin from the date a crime is committed. If within the time limit prescribed in Clause 2 of this Article, the offender commits a new crime for which this Code stipulates a maximum penalty of over one year, the time already past must not be counted and the statute of limitation for the previous crime shall be re-calculated from the date the new crime is committed.
If within the above-said time limit, the offender deliberately flees and is being hunted for by warrant, the time of fleeing away must not be counted and the statute of limitation shall be re-calculated from such time the person gives him/herself up or is arrested.
Article 24.- Non-application of statute of limitation for penal liability examination
The statute of limitation for penal liability examination prescribed in Article 23 of this Code shall not apply to crimes provided for in Chapter XI and Chapter XXIV of this Code
Article 25.- Penal liability exemption
1. An offender shall be exempt from penal liability if during the investigation, prosecution or trial, due to a change of situation, the act of criminal offense of the offender is no longer dangerous to the society.
2. If before the act of criminal offense is detected, the offender gives him/herself up and clearly declares and reports facts, thus effectively contributing to the detection and investigation of the crime and trying to minimize the consequences of the crime, he/she may also be exempt from penal liability.
3. Offenders shall be exempt from penal liability when there are decisions on general amnesties.
Article 26.- Definition of penalty
Penalty is the most severe coercive measure applied by the State so as to strip or restrict the rights and interests of the offenders.
Penalties are provided for in the Penal Code and decided by the court.
Article 27.- The purpose of penalty
Penalties aim not only to punish offenders but also to rehabilitate them into persons useful to society and having the sense of observing laws and regulations of the socialist life, preventing them from committing new crimes. Penalties also aim to educate other people to respect laws and prevent and combat crimes.
Article 28.- Penalties
Penalties include principal penalties and additional penalties.
1. The principal penalties include:
c) Non-custodial reform;
e) Termed imprisonment;
f) Life imprisonment;
g) Death penalty.
2. The additional penalties include:
a) Ban from holding certain posts, practicing certain occupations or doing certain jobs;
b) Ban on residence;
d) Deprivation of some civic rights
e) Confiscation of property;
f) Fine, when it is not applied as a principal penalty;
g) Expulsion, when it is not applied as a principal penalty.
3. For each offense, the offender shall be subject to only one principal penalty and may be subject to one or more additional penalties.
Article 29.- Warning
Warning applies to offenders of less serious crimes involving extenuating circumstances not warranting penalty exemption.
Article 30.- Fine
1. Fine is applied as a principal penalty to offenders of less serious crimes of infringing upon the economic management order, public order, administrative management order and a number of other crimes prescribed by this Code.
2. Fine is applied as an additional penalty to persons who commit corruption or drug-related crimes or other crimes prescribed by this Code.
3. The fine level shall depend on the nature and seriousness of the crimes committed and take into account