In society, the State consistently enacts legal policies to ensure that all activities of organizations and individuals are carried out correctly. At the same time, individuals have the right to speak out to protect their legal rights and interests if there are actions that violate the law, particularly the right to make accusations that are enshrined in the Constitution and laws. However, many individuals have taken advantage of the legal provisions regarding the right to make accusations, knowingly fabricating false information to damage the reputation, and honor, and infringe upon the rights and legal interests of others. Therefore, the law also stipulates sanctions to deal with false accusations.
Accusation and Reporting of Crime
Article 2 of the 2018 Accusation Law stipulated that an accusation is the act of an individual, by the procedures established by this law, informing authorities, organizations, or individuals with the authority about actions that violate the law committed by any entity, organization, or individual, resulting in damage or the threat of damage to the interests of the state, the legal rights and interests of entities, organizations, and individuals. This includes accusing actions that violate the law in the performance of duties and public functions and actions that violate state management laws in various fields.
Reporting of Crimes
As per Article 1, Section 144 of the 2015 Code of Criminal Procedure, reporting crimes refers to the act of an individual discovering and reporting actions with signs of criminal conduct to the competent authority.
In this context, the accusation is the right of an individual to report to authorities, organizations, or individuals with jurisdiction to address actions that violate the law across all fields in general. On the other hand, reporting crimes is both a right and an obligation of individuals to report actions with signs of criminal conduct to the competent authority, as specified in the Criminal Procedure Code. Essentially, reporting crimes is a form of accusation, but the actions being accused in this case involve signs of criminal conduct and are resolved by the competent authorities through criminal procedure.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Accuser
To ensure that the process of accusation is carried out by regulations, to encourage accurate accusations, and to prevent false accusations, the 2018 Accusation Law defines the rights and obligations of the accuser as follows:
(i) Article 9, Section 1 of the 2018 Accusation Law specifies the rights of the accuser:
- To exercise the right to accuse by the provisions of this law
- To have their personal information, such as name, address, signature, and other personal information, kept confidential
- To be informed about whether their accusation is accepted for processing, transferred to the competent authorities, extended for processing, suspended, temporarily suspended for processing, continued for processing, or conclusions reached regarding the content of the accusation
- To file a new accusation when there is a basis to believe that the processing of their accusation by the competent authorities is not by the law or exceeds the prescribed time limit
- To withdraw their accusation
- To request the competent authorities, organizations, or individuals with jurisdiction to apply protective measures for the accuser
- To receive commendation and compensation for damages by the provisions of the law
(ii) In addition to the rights mentioned above, Section 2 of Article 9 of the 2018 Accusation Law also outlines the responsibilities of the accuser, including:
- Providing personal information as specified in Article 23 of this law
- Presenting the truth regarding the content of the accusation and providing information and documents related to the content of the accusation that they possess
- Being legally responsible for the content of the accusation
- Cooperating with the individuals responsible for resolving the accusation when required
- Compensating for damages caused by their intentional false accusations
What Constitutes a False Accusation?
The act of making a valid accusation holds great significance and value in society. It helps competent authorities promptly detect and address wrongdoings, ensuring the rule of law, and safeguarding the legal rights and interests of the state, organizations, and individuals. However, the issue of false accusations still prevails, with anonymous and impersonated complaints being widespread. In numerous cases, individuals exploit the right to accuse of malicious purposes, fabricating false information and accusing others intentionally. Such false accusations undermine the reputation, honor, and legal rights of individuals, complicating law and order and resulting in various adverse consequences for society.
The false accusation discussed in this article pertains to actions carried out with deliberate intent. It may be understood as individuals knowingly fabricating accusations despite being aware that the content of their accusations does not correspond with the truth. These false accusations are made with the motive to tarnish the dignity, honor, and reputation of others and to infringe upon the legal rights and interests of the accused parties.
Article 8 of the Accusation Law prohibits regarding acts in accusation and the resolution of accusations are defined. It includes the prohibition of intentionally making false accusations, coercing, enticing, inciting, luring, or bribing others into making false accusations.
Legal Consequences of False Accusations
Intentionally making false accusations can have significant and far-reaching consequences, such as infringing upon the dignity, honor, legal rights, and interests of the accused, as well as disturbing law and order, leading to adverse repercussions in society. Consequently, the law prohibits such actions. Furthermore, Article 65 of the Accusation Law establishes consequences for those who violate the law in accusation and the resolution of accusations: Accusers and related parties who engage in actions as defined in Article 8 of this law or violate other provisions of the law regarding accusation and the resolution of accusations will face disciplinary actions, administrative fines, or criminal liability, depending on the nature and extent of their violations.
Intentionally making false accusations can result in criminal liability for the offense of “False Accusation” as stipulated in Article 156 of the Penal Code. This offense is defined as:
- Falsely fabricating or disseminating information known to be false to seriously tarnish the dignity, and honor, or cause harm to the legal rights and interests of others
- Falsely accusing others of committing a crime and reporting them to competent authorities
Thus, if an individual intentionally creates and spreads false information to seriously defame the dignity, and honor, or cause harm to the legal rights and interests of others, or if they present false information about others committing a crime and report it to the authorities, they may be charged with this crime.
However, Article 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulated that criminal cases related to the crime specified in Article 156 of the Penal Code are only initiated upon the request of the victim or their legal representative if the victim is under 18 years of age, has a mental or physical disability, or is deceased. This means that without these aggravating circumstances, an individual accused of making false accusations must file a request, and only then can competent authorities initiate criminal proceedings for the crime of False Accusation.
Depending on the nature and extent of the actions and their consequences, a person found guilty of False Accusation may be subject to fines ranging from 10,000,000 VND to 50,000,000 VND, non-custodial rehabilitation for up to 2 years, or imprisonment for a period of 3 months to 7 years. In addition, they may face prohibitions on holding public office, engaging in certain professions, or performing specific tasks for a period ranging from 1 to 5 years.
In cases where individuals intentionally make false accusations but do not reach the threshold for criminal prosecution, they may be subject to administrative penalties. These penalties include fines as stipulated:
Article 9 Decision No. 02/2022/UBTVQH taking effect on 1/9/2022, ranges from 1,000,000 VND to 30,000,000 VND for false accusations or false reports of crimes. Additionally, supplementary fines may be imposed, including the seizure of property and means of administrative violations.
Under Section a, Clause 3 of Article 7 of Decree No. 144/2021/ND-CP, penalties may be imposed, ranging from 2,000,000 VND to 3,000,000 VND, for actions that incite, ridicule, insult, defame, or besmirch the dignity, honor, or reputation of others.
Moreover, if an individual who is a public servant, civil servant, or official is aware of the falseness of their accusations but still makes multiple false accusations, coerces, lures, incites, entices, or bribes others into making false accusations, they may face disciplinary actions by Decree No. 31/2019/ND-CP or criminal liability, depending on the nature and extent of the violations.
As mentioned earlier, an individual who falsely accuses others has a legal obligation to compensate for the damages caused by their intentional false accusations. According to Article 592 of the Civil Code:
- Damages resulting from infringements upon the dignity, honor, and reputation include reasonable expenses for limitation and remediation, actual income losses, and other losses as prescribed by law.
- The person responsible for compensating damages in cases where the dignity, honor, and reputation of others are infringed upon must provide compensation as prescribed in Article 1 of this provision. An additional amount to indemnify mental distress shall be included. The amount of compensation for mental distress shall be agreed upon by the parties. In the absence of an agreement, the maximum amount for a person with their dignity, honor, or reputation infringed upon shall not exceed ten times the basic salary determined by the State.
Therefore, in addition to facing potential disciplinary actions, administrative fines, and criminal liability, individuals who intentionally make false accusations may be required to compensate for the damages they cause to the dignity, honor, legal rights, and interests of others.
Accusation is the right of individuals to report to authorities, organizations, or individuals with jurisdiction to address violations of the law. However, this right should not be abused for personal motives or purposes that could lead to false accusations, as doing so may result in legal consequences. Conversely, in cases where individuals are falsely accused by others, they may take various actions to protect their legal rights, interests, dignity, honor, and reputation. These actions include gathering sufficient evidence related to the false accusations, consulting with legal counsel, reporting, or making counteraccusations to the competent authorities for further action. Furthermore, they may request compensation for damages caused by false accusations against them.
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