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Arrest, detention and bail in Thailand

Thai criminal law applies to Thai nationals and foreigners who have committed offenses in Thailand. As a rule, an arrest could be made by an administrative officer or police officer after the court had issued an arrest warrant. In some cases, an arrest may be made without a warrant.

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Arrest without warrant

An arrest may be made without a warrant in the following cases :

  • when a person is apprehended while committing a crime;
  • when a person is found attempting to commit a crime or is found under suspicious circumstances indicating an intention to commit a crime, if he has an instrument, weapon, or another object which may be used in committing a crime;
  • when there are grounds for issuing an arrest warrant, but difficult circumstances are preventing an application to the court for an arrest warrant; or
  • when the alleged offender or accused has fled or is about to escape while on bail.

Custody Period

When a person is arrested for a crime, the investigator has the right to detain the alleged offender for up to 48 hours from when he arrives at the police station. The law requires the alleged offender to be remanded to court custody if the investigator cannot complete the investigation within that time. The period of detention allowed by law depends on the penalty prescribed for the offense charged, namely: In the case of a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for up to six months or a fine of not more than 500 Thai Baht, or both, the court may only impose one period of detention not exceeding seven days.

In the case of a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months but not exceeding ten years, or a fine of more than 500 Baht, or both, the court is entitled to impose several consecutive periods of detention not exceeding 12 days each, but the total period not exceeding 48 days. In the case of a criminal offense punishable by a maximum imprisonment of 10 years or more, regardless of the penalty with or without a fine, the court shall be entitled to order several consecutive periods of detention not exceeding 12 days each. Still, the total period shall be at most 84 days.

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Suppose the investigating officer cannot complete the investigation so that the prosecutor can file a complaint with the competent court within the appropriate period of custody. In that case, the court will release the alleged offender from custody. Suppose the alleged offender is charged, but no arrest warrant has been issued, and the officer believes there is probable cause to detain the person. In that case, the investigator may order the alleged offender to appear in court to apply to the court for a detention order. If the alleged offender does not comply with the order, the investigator has the right to arrest the alleged offender.

Bail

A suspect or defendant arrested and held in custody can apply for bail. However, bail is rarely granted. If the person is in the custody of the investigator, the bail application is made to the investigator. If the person is in the court's custody, the application is made to the court. The suspect (accused) or interested party must apply for bail. Once the application is filed, an answer is usually provided the same day. The most common types of bail that can be used are cash, a bank savings book containing a fixed deposit equivalent to the amount of bail required, and/or land title documents. For foreigners, the original passport or a certified copy must be submitted with the bail application.

The passport is usually retained as security. If bail is granted, the court sends a letter to the Immigration Bureau informing them that the person has been released but must remain in the country unless otherwise authorized by the court. While on bail, the suspect or accused may reside and travel anywhere in Thailand. However, he (she) is obliged to appear in court on a date set by the court. If the court of first instance refuses to grant bail, the applicant may appeal the denial of bail to the Court of Appeal. The decision of the Court of Appeal is final. In doing so, the applicant is allowed to file a new bail application.

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Update: 14-02-2023
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