An IBJ partner attorney in China recently defended a 17 year old boy arrested on charges of attempted rape. The incident occurred while defendant Bingwen, whose real name has been altered to respect his privacy, was in the company of several adults. The lawyer successfully defended Bingwen against the attempted rape charge and won him a mitigated sentence on a lesser charge.
IBJ China staff report the defendant was 17 years old at the time of the incident. His parents were divorced and he was under the guardianship of his father. His father was a migrant worker who lived in another province in order to seek employment. As a result, the juvenile lived with his grandparents in a suburb of town. His family was very poor and he was not well liked, well cared for, or properly supported by neighbors, classmates, teachers or his grandparents. Due to this lack of proper attention and education, young Bingwen frequently visited a local internet bar. He made adult friends there who were not a good influence in his life.
One night, after he and his adult friends left the internet bar, the adults saw a woman walking on the street alone. The adults went to talk and interact with the woman. Bingwen followed. The woman called for help, but the adults around Bingwen continued until two transportation police officers passed by. Bingwen and the adults ran away. The next day, the woman reported the incident to the police. The police investigated the internet bar and arrested Bingwen and his adult friends.
Prosecutors initially pursued charges of attempted rape against Bingwen and the group of adults involved in the incident. An attempted rape conviction potentially carries a lengthy jail sentence. However, IBJ’s partner lawyer was assigned to Bingwen’s case. She conducted extensive client interviews, and uncovered that several mitigating factors had not been accounted for: Bingwen had confessed to his involvement, he was merely an accessory to the crime of the adults present, and his family had made efforts to compensate the victim. Based on these factors, and in accordance with Chinese law, the defense attorney argued Bingwen was entitled to a mitigated sentence. Moreover, the juvenile had no intent to rape and no other evidence supported such a charge. The lawyer presented these facts to the prosecutor and later to the court. As a result of the lawyer’s efforts, the attempted rape charges were dropped and the juvenile ultimately received a mitigated sentence of 1 year in jail for the lesser crime of unlawful insult.
Bingwen, now in criminal detention, expressed appreciation that his defense attorney respected him as a person and did not simply accept the initial charges of the prosecution. He has plans to join his father and seek employment upon release, and intends to spread the word to others in his community about the valuable legal aid he received from IBJ partners.
IBJ China helps defenders like Bingwen’s lawyer to develop their advocacy skills through online training modules, in person training events, roundtable discussion events, and legal toolkits distributed across the country.