- General Information
- Information for Special Cases
REPORTING CRIMES: In case of emergency, dial “119” (the equivalent of the American “911”) for immediate assistance. Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault should call “113” or 0800-024-995. English speakers will be available to assist.
Crime victims need to file police reports or register complaints in the police district where the crimes occurred. Foreigners should contact the National Police Administration Foreign Affairs Department at 2321-3175 for assistance. Police reports should normally be filed within six months of the incident, but on a case by case basis the local authorities may accept some reports after this filing date. Crime victims or their next of kin can file the report. Police normally will not provide an interpreter, but may contact the Foreign Affairs Police for assistance if necessary.
If the victim has left Taiwan, he/she can assign an attorney to report the crime. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) is unable to accept the report of crime; nor can AIT file a complaint on the victim’s behalf. AIT, however, may forward the report to Taiwan authorities if requested.
If you have difficulty filing your police report with a local official, please contact AIT immediately. You may need a police report to file for crime victim compensation or insurance reimbursement. AIT is not authorized to act as your legal representative. We strongly recommend you retain an attorney to assist you in legal matters, track the progress of your case, and apprise you of any developments.
INVESTIGATIONS: Many crime investigations never result in the arrest of a suspect. The prosecutor in Taiwan will be responsible for investigating crimes. Victims are encouraged to collect forensic evidence for the criminal investigation. Victims can authorize an attorney to get information about the progress of the investigation and should report threats, harassment or intimidation by the accused or his/her family or friends to local police. The case will remain open for four months if there is no arrest.
ARRESTS: If you are arrested, contact AIT immediately, or request that the police do so. In Taipei, the AIT telephone number is (02)2162-2000; the number for the AIT Kaohsiung office is (07)238-7744. An AIT Duty Officer is on call 24 hours a day, and can be reached at any time in an emergency. Click here for information on arrest and imprisonment in Taiwan. Victims will be notified of the arrest and will be asked to identify the perpetrator with all necessary protective measures set in place to assure the victim’s safety and privacy.
When an individual is arrested, he or she will normally be taken to the nearest local police station, where the police will begin questioning the suspect and any witnesses to determine if a crime has been committed. If it appears that a crime has been committed, the person under arrest will usually then be taken to the main police station in that area, where the questioning will continue. The police make notes of the interrogation, but these notes are usually only in Chinese. The police may ask a suspect to sign certain documents, some of which may constitute a written confession, which may then be used against the defendant at trial. In most circumstances, the police cannot detain a person for more than 24 hours without pressing formal charges or obtaining a warrant of detention from a judge.
PRETRIAL PERIOD: If formal charges are filed, the case is then forwarded to the public prosecutor for investigation. In Taiwan, the prosecutor has responsibilities similar to that of a prosecutor or district attorney in the U.S., but with broader powers. The prosecutor determines whether a reasonable legal case against the suspect can be made. There is no grand jury; instead, the prosecutor conducts investigative hearings. District Courts have jurisdiction in criminal cases. Defense attorneys are allowed to attend these hearings. During the investigative stage, a defense attorney may suggest that the prosecutor speak with witnesses favorable to the defendant or consider specific exculpatory evidence, but may not cross-examine witnesses or petition for disclosure. Taiwan law was revised in 2003 to provide for the equivalent of plea bargaining. An attorney can represent the victim and his/her interest.
If, after further investigation, the prosecutor determines that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case, it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prepare the evidence for trial. It is also up to the prosecutor to determine whether further detention is necessary, subject to the restrictions explained below, or whether bail can be granted. If bail is granted, the defendant must find a guarantor who is willing to post bail and to ensure that the defendant will appear at subsequent legal proceedings. A locally hired attorney can act as a guarantor; AIT cannot.
Suspects may be held in detention for a period of two months. This period can be extended once for a total of four months. If after four months, the prosecutor has not gathered sufficient evidence for an indictment, the suspect must be released, though an indictment can be brought at a later date. This limitation does not necessarily apply to foreigners who are not in Taiwan in legal status.
TRIAL: If the prosecutor determines that sufficient evidence exists to prosecute, a formal indictment is filed and the case is turned over to the District Court for trial. An initial trial date is set by the District Court judge assigned to the case. On the day of trial, the accused is taken to court either from the detention center or, if released on bail, called to appear through a summons. Unlike in the U.S., where criminal trials proceed “straight through” from start to finish, trials in Taiwan often occur in stages, which may be separated by periods of weeks or even months.
The judge is expected to act as an impartial referee. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are considered to be equal participants in the trial. Defense attorneys have the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses and to present witnesses beneficial to the defense. A public defender will be provided only in cases that involve a possible maximum sentence of three years or more. An interpreter will be assigned to the case if required. An AIT representative is allowed to be present as an observer if requested, but cannot act as an interpreter or provide legal counsel.
SENTENCING: There is no jury system in Taiwan. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge also determines what sentence should be imposed. The sentence will be served within two weeks once the written copy of the court judgment is received. If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she is released. In either case, a written copy of the court judgment will sent to the defendant or his/her attorney. Judges are encouraged to ask for the victim’s input at sentencing.
APPEALS: Once the court has issued its written judgment, an attorney may file an appeal on the client’s behalf. Alternately, the defendant may request the assistance of a detention center official in preparing an appeal. In either case, the appeal must be lodged within ten days. It should be noted that the prosecution also has the right to appeal and does so far more frequently than in the U.S. Since the judge adjudicates the case only according to the records from the first trial, victims are not expected to testify during appeals.
ATTORNEYS: You may want to consider hiring a local attorney to secure appropriate legal guidance. Local legal procedures differ from those in the United States. Although the prosecutor is responsible for pressing charges and seeking convictions in criminal matters, an attorney you hire can promote your interests with the police and the court. While our office cannot recommend specific attorneys, we can provide you with a list of attorneys who have expressed interest in representing U.S. citizens. You may also want to consider contacting the Legal Aid Foundation (LAF), which provides legal advice and services to foreigners in Taiwan. Click here to locate the branch office nearest you; LAF’s hotline number is 02-412-8518.
VICTIM COMPENSATION IN TAIWAN: The Association for the Protection of Victims of Criminal Acts provides assistance to the victims of criminal acts and their survivors. The services they provide include: 1. settlement and accommodation arrangements; 2. medical services; 3. legal assistance; 4. application for compensation; 5. social relief services; 6. investigation assistance; 7. security protection; 8. psychological assistance; 9. life rehabilitation; 10. trusteeship management; 11. emergency financing; 12. providing letters of guarantee; 13. visitations. For more information please check the Association for Protection of Victims of Criminal Acts website; phone number is 0800-995-850.
The Taiwan Department of Rehabilitation and Social Protection at the Taiwan Ministry of Justice administers a crime victim compensation program to provide financial compensation to victims of violent or personal crime. U.S. citizens who are victims of crime and dependents of deceased victims are eligible to apply for compensation. Claims must be filed within two years of the date of the crime. Maximum awards in Taiwan Dollars are as follows: Medical: NT$400,000.00; Funeral: NT$300,000.00; Death: NT$1,000,000.00 and Disability: NT$1,000,000.00.
Application forms are available at the Investigation Bureau, District Court, and American Institute in Taiwan. The claimant should file an application with the Committee of Crime Victim Compensation Association, the Investigation Bureau, or the district court in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. Applications are processed within 3 months. Appeals of a decision by the district court to deny compensation may be filed with the High Court.
Department of Prevention, Rehabilitation and Protection
Ministry of Justice
130, Section 1, Chongqing South Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan
Telephone: (02) 2191-0189
Crime victims in Taiwan may also be eligible to apply for compensation from their state of residence in the U.S.