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Content created: 020422
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Selections From the
Penal Laws of China

Homicide

The following section on homicide corresponds with Staunton's Division VI, Book II, Sections CCLXXXII-CCLXXXVI, pages 303-308 (first portion of section 25 of the Chinese edition).

Section List

SECTION 282. —Preconcerted Homicide; Murder*.

*-The distinguishing character of the crime which is the subject of this section, appears to be previous contrivance. In respect to the crime of killing, with an intent to kill, noticed in Section 290, every idea of combination is there excluded, and the design is supposed to have originated at the moment, or nearly so, of its execution.

In every case of persons preconcerting [= planning —DKJ] the crime of homicide, whether, with or without a design, against the life of a particular individual, the original contriver shall suffer death, by being beheaded, after the usual period of confinement. All the accessories to the contrivance, who likewise contribute to the perpetration of the preconcerted homicide or murder, shall suffer death, by being strangled, after being confined until the usual period.

The other accessories not actually contributing to the perpetration of the murder, shall be punished with 100 blows, and perpetual banishment to the distance of 3000 lee. In these cases, sentence is not to be pronounced finally, until the decease of the person mortally wounded.

When the wounds inflicted in consequence of a previous design to commit murder, do not prove mortal, the original contriver of the deed shall be strangled, after remaining in confinement the usual period. The accessories contributing to the perpetration, shall be punished with 100 blows, and perpetual banishment to the distance of 3000 lee. The other accessories shall be punished with 100 blows, and three years banishment. [One lĭ ? (or "lee") is about half a kilometer. —DKJ]

When a homicide has been preconcerted as aforesaid, but no blow struck, the original contriver shall be punished with 100 blows and three years banishment: —the accessories to such contrivance shall be each punished with 100 blows.

The original contriver shall suffer punishment as a principal, though not otherwise contributing in any manner to carry the design into effect; but the accessories to the contrivance who are not guilty of any subsequent overt act, shall suffer punishment less by one degree than those of the accessories, who acted in some respects upon the contrivance, although they did not personally contribute to the perpetration of the deed.

Those who commit murder for the sake of plunder shall, as in the case of a robbery, all of them be beheaded, without any distinction whatever between principals and accessories

SECTION 283. —Murder of an Officer of Government.

When an ordinary officer of government is guilty of designing to kill an officer invested with peculiar or extraordinary powers by the Emperor; when a private inhabitant of a district is guilty of designing to kill the governor or supreme officer of the same; when a private soldier is guilty of designing to kill his commanding officer; and, lastly, when an official attendant of a public office or tribunal, is guilty of designing to kill an officer of the fifth, or any superior rank: —in all three cases, if the individual entertaining such criminal design and contrivance, is the original contriver, he shall, though a blow had not been struck in execution thereof, be punished with 100 blows, and banishment to the distance of 2000 lee. If a blow is struck, so as more or less to wound, the principal offender shall be strangled; if the murder is actually perpetrated, all the parties thereto shall be be-headed. In the other cases the punishment of accessories shall be one degree less severe than that of their respective principals. All persons not holding offices or rank under government, when capitally convicted under this law, shall be executed immediately; but the execution of officers of government shall not take place till after the usual period of confinement.

Accessories to the contrivance, who are not guilty of any subsequent overt act; attendants of tribunals and public offices, guilty of designing to kill an officer of government of the sixth or any inferior rank; and, lastly, private inhabitants or soldiers, guilty of designing to kill any officers to whose jurisdiction they are not subject, shall only be punished as in ordinary cases *.

*-That is to say, in cases of a design to kill a stranger and an equal, under circumstances which are not legally considered either to palliate or to aggravate the guilt of such design. The meaning however of an expression which occurs so frequently, must already have been apparent to the reader from the content.


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SECTION 284. —Parricide.

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Any person convicted of a design to kill his or her father or mother, grand-father or grand-mother, whether by the father's or mother's side; and any woman convicted of a design to kill her husband; husband's father or mother, grand-father or grand-mother, shall, whether a blow is, or is not struck in consequence, suffer death by being beheaded. In punishing this criminal design, no distinction shall be made between principals and accessories, except as far as regards their respective relationships to the person against whose life the design is entertained. If the murder is committed, all the parties concerned therein, and related to the deceased as above-mentioned, shall suffer death by a slow and painful execution. If the criminal should die in prison, an execution similar in mode shall take place on his body. The accessories more distantly related, shall be punished according to the law particularly applicable to the cases of persons so related; and those accessories who are not related at all, shall be punished as similar offenders would be in ordinary cases.

The principal in a design to kill any other senior relation within the four degrees of connexion and consanguinity, shall, if no blow is struck, be punished with 100 blows, and perpetual banishment to the distance of 2000 lee. The accessories to a design to kill a prison so related to them, shall be punished with 100 blows, and three years banishment. If a blow is struck so as to wound, the principal shall be strangled, and the rest punished in the degree and proportion provided in ordinary cases. If the intended murder is actually committed, all such of the principals and accessories, as are related as above described, to the deceased, shall be beheaded.

The punishment of entertaining a design to kill a junior relation within any of the aforesaid degrees of connexion or consanguinity, shall be two degrees less severe than that elsewhere provided in the case of killing with an intent to kill, such junior relation. The punishment of wounding with an intent to kill, such junior relation, shall be less severe than that of killing, by one degree; when the murder is actually perpetrated, the punishment shall be the same as that already stated to have been elsewhere provided.*

*-See Section 317 in the following book, entitled, " Quarrelling and Fighting." [The section is not included in this extract. —DKJ]

Any slave or hired servant designing to murder, or murdering his or her master, or any relation of his or her master, living under the same roof, shall be liable to the same punishment as has been provided in the case of a son or grandson being guilty of such a criminal act or design.

SECTION 285: —Killing an Adulterer.

When a principal or inferior wife is discovered by her husband in the act of adultery, if such husband at the very time that he discovers, kills the adulterer, or adulteress, or both, he shall not be punishable. If in such a case, he does not kill the adulteress, she shall be punished according to the law applicable thereto, and afterwards sold in marriage. The money paid for her, shall be a forfeiture to government.

If there had not been an actual commission of adultery, but only such an intercourse as implied a design to commit that crime; or if the adulterer and adulteress had surrendered themselves to the husband; or if, lastly, they had removed from the apartment where the adultery had been committed the husband who kills either of the guilty parties under any such circumstances, shall not be justified or protected by this law.

If the guilty wife shall contrive with the adulterer to procure the death of her husband, she shall suffer death by a slow and painful execution, and the adulterer shall be beheaded. —If the adulterer kills the husband, without the knowledge or connivance of the wife, she shall suffer death by being strangled.

SECTION 286. —Widows Killing Their Deceased Husband's Relations.

If any widow, whether married or not to a second husband, is guilty of killing her deceased husband's father, mother, grand-father or grand-mother, she shall suffer the same punishment as if guilty of killing the said relations, while such husband was still living; the case of widows who had been divorced from their former husbands, is the only one in which this law shall not take effect.

A servant or slave killing the person who had been, but was no longer his master, shall only be punished as in ordinary cases of murder, except in the instance of a slave who had been manumitted by his master; where, the party being bound by such an obligation, shall be liable to the aggravated punishment, which is applicable to the case of slaves killing their masters, and is elsewhere provided.

SECTION 287. —Murder of Three or More Persons in One Family.

Any person who is guilty of killing, by previous contrivance, intentionally but without premeditation, or in the course of a robbery or house burning three or more persons, whereof none were guilty of capital offences, and all of whom were relations in the first degree, or inmates of one family; and also any person who is guilty of mangling and dividing the limbs, and thus in a cruel and revengeful manner killing any individual, shall, when convicted of being a principal offender, suffer death by a slow and painful execution. The property of such principal offender shall be forfeited to the use of the suffering family, and his wives and children shall be banished perpetually to the distance of 2000 lee. Accessories, contributing to the perpetration of the crime, shall be beheaded. The other accessories shall be punished as accessories in ordinary cases of murder. Where the original design had been to kill one person only, but from any subsequent cause three or more are killed, the original contriver, if not contributing to the execution shall be beheaded; and the individual who first proposed upon the spot, the killing of three or more persons, shall be executed as the principal, agreeably to this law.


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