Foreign nationals dealing with the Thailand Criminal Law System should be aware of some keynote differences between the Thailand criminal law system and criminal systems of Western common law jurisdictions:
(1) It is possible in Thailand to file criminal charges privately. This means unlike common law countries, cases do not necessarily have to be referred to the public prosecutor (Attorney General in Thailand) but may be filed by aggrieved individuals directly.
(2) There is no jury system in Thailand. Criminal cases are decided by judges only.
(3) The police are often overburdened in Thailand. Accordingly aggrieved individuals often choose to retain an attorney to prepare charges to be filed with the police.
(4) There are Royal Pardons issued periodically in Thailand. That said, no defendant should ever expect a royal pardon to be issued in any particular case.
(5) Constitutional protections are not as certain nor as reliable as in Western common law countries such as the United States; there have been dozens of constitutions in Thailand.
(6) The body of common law cases that you can find in western law countries does not exist to the same extent in Thailand. Although there are Supreme Court case decisions that are important for the development of the law of Thailand, they do not have the same weight as in common law countries. Thailand criminal law is primarily statute based and gives broad discretion to the judge adjudicating the case.
(7) There is significant interest and activity in various international treaties and procedures such as prisoner exchange programs and extradition. This is due to the fact that Thailand has a large transient foreign population that often requires utilization of these extraordinary measures.