One of the most substantial changes in the powers between the Prosecutors’ Office and Police Office was enacted by the Korean National Assembly through amendments to the Korean Criminal Procedure Act and Prosecutors’ Office Act. These Amendments were made to the Criminal Procedure Act of Korea and the Prosecutors’ Office Act of Korea that shall take effect in 2021. The Amendment reduce the power of the Korean Prosecutions to initiate investigations in certain types of cases, while expanding the powers of the Police to initiate and close investigations in these areas.
- Establishment of a New Investigative Agency under the Korean National Police Agency
The Amendments establish the National Investigation Headquarters. The National Investigation Headquarters shall be a unit under the auspices of the Korean National Police Agency that shall contain individual bureaus including a White Collar Crime Bureau, Cyber Crime Bureau and a National Security Bureau. We suspect that with the creation of these bureaus we shall see a more professional, capable and reactive police office that shall be more willing and capable to investigate notorious crimes, crimes by public figures and complicated matters concerning corporations.
2. Amendments to Scope of Powers of Korean Prosecution and Korean National Police Force
The Police have sole authority to initiate investigations in all matters except matters related to:
- Crimes Allegedly Committed by Police; and
- Six Major Crimes:
- Crimes of Corruption;
- Financial Crimes;
- Election-Related Crimes;
- Offences by Government Officials;
- Crimes Related to Major Disasters; and
- Crimes Related to the Acquisition of Defense Assets.
Even for the following crimes, the Korean Prosecution can refer cases for investigation to the Korean National Police Force or other agencies with investigative powers.
3. Powers of the Police to Close Investigations Before Indictment by the Prosecution
The Korean National Police Agency has the power to close investigations in all crimes except the Six Major Crimes noted above and alleged criminal conduct by a police officers. In these cases, the Korean Police have the power to choose not to refer a case to the Prosecution for Indictment, thus, closing the case. However, these powers have limits.
If the alleged victim of a crime or complainant contests the decision of the Korean National Police Force to close a case, the case may be investigated by the Korean Prosecution or the Korean Prosecution can demand the Korean National Police Force to reinvestigate the matter.
We suspect that the expansion of the power of the police and more resources for the police shall lead to a more reactive police that is more willing to proactively investigate crimes.
We recommend, in all cases concerning an investigation for a crime in Korea you, immediately, hire a Proactive Korean Criminal Defense Attorney.
To schedule a call with a Korean criminal defense lawyer please: Schedule a Call with a Korean Criminal Defense Lawyer.
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