Criminal law

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary WorksRGC 12 - Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
EditorsWing Hong Chui, T. Wing Lo
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781317497301
ISBN (Print)9781315713205, 9781138888746, 9781138888753
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Criminal law is a branch of law that deals with the punishment of an offender for wrongs committed against society. The ‘wrong’ or crime can be an act (for example stealing) or an omission to act (failure to drive carefully) which the courts consider punishable so as to deter others from committing the offence. In such circumstances, the courts will deal with the offender by sentencing him or her to a term of imprisonment or by imposing other forms of non-custodial sentence such as ordering the offender to pay a fine, serve a community service order or be placed on probation. It can thus be said that the purpose of criminal law is not only to protect societal interests but also to maintain and regulate societal conduct and behaviour. Who therefore bears this responsibility of protecting the public? It is the government, which is why it is the government that generally initiates criminal proceedings (prosecutes) in the courts. For example, in HKSAR v Wong, it is the Hong Kong government against the person charged – Wong, who is also known as the defendant in the case. Before a defendant can be convicted, it is the prosecutor’s duty to prove the defendant’s guilt ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (see Kwan Ping Bong v R (1979) HKLR 1). If reasonable doubt is created in respect of any elements of the offence with which the defendant is charged, the prosecution is said not to have made its case and the defendant will be acquitted. The standard of proof coupled with the presumption that a defendant is innocent unless proven guilty (presumption of innocence) imposes an onerous burden on the prosecutor.

Citation Format(s)

Criminal law. / Ong, Rebecca.
UNDERSTANDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN HONG KONG. ed. / Wing Hong Chui; T. Wing Lo. 2nd. ed. Taylor and Francis Inc., 2017. p. 38-56.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary WorksRGC 12 - Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review