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Everything You Need to Know About Criminal Proceedings in UAE

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Fardeen Imran

Published on October 20, 2023, 08:55:02


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The process of commencing a criminal case in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) begins with the victim taking the crucial first step of filing a complaint against the offender.

The complaint serves as a foundation for the legal proceeding and must hold comprehensive details of the offense and the events leading up to it in chronological order. The report may also hold all necessary details and descriptions, including the location and time of the event and the character or characters involved.

The Investigation

Following the statement, the police take several investigatory steps, the first of which is taking the statement from the accused and other relevant parties. Article 41 of the Criminal Procedure Law allows the extraction of any such statements, which may hold information about the events and their perpetrators. Here, the parties may be potential witnesses, contributors to the crime scene, or members of relevant departments such as those of forensics or electronics. 

In cases of Flagrante Delicto, where the crime is being committed or has recently been committed, law enforcement must proceed to the scene, examining any physical evidence relating to the crime, documenting the conditions of the environment and any individuals involved, and gathering relevant statements and information which can aid the legal process. The Law grants the authority to the judicial officer to take immediate action in such cases, and even make arrests if it is relevant to the crime performed. A judicial officer can also prevent people from leaving or entering the crime scene, to prevent the contamination of evidence till it is collected and the initial report is drafted. A failure to comply by individuals or teams is also included in the report and is later presented to the Public Prosecution for appropriate legal action. 

In the UAE, the investigation is carried out in several layers, and after the report is made, it may require the expertise and perspectives of several judicial and executive bodies. The Law, particularly Article 42 of the Criminal Procedures Law, also grants the power to directly communicate with or seek help from relevant authorities such as the armed forces, immigration officers, or the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Extracting all relevant data from these parties is crucial to establishing solid case facts that can later be admitted as evidence for use in court. Searches and arrests can also be carried out through a warrant or when circumstances authorize the officer to do so. 

The Next Step 

Once the report surfaces and is backed with necessary materials, the complaint is referred to the public prosecution, typically within 48 hours of receiving it. The Public Prosecution is entrusted with the responsibility to build up and narrate a criminal case, and it does so as a representative of public rights and interests, to achieve justice through the framework set out by law. In the next 24 hours, a public prosecutor reviews the report and the relevant facts, seeing whether a crime has actually occurred under the UAE Penal Code (Federal Law No. 3 of 1987). He would then place the crime in one of the three “Categories of Crime” in the UAE, building up a case from there. 

The Categories of Crime 

The two main crimes in the UAE, with their penalties, are given in the Crimes and Penalties law, classified as, 

1. Felonies are “highly serious” crimes, with harsh punishments such as retaliation (a qisas punishment), lengthy or life imprisonment, and even death penalties. The crimes that fall under this category are manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, and treason, amongst others.

2. Misdemeanors, or minor offenses are punishable primarily by fines or imprisonment. Here the concept of blood money (diya) also comes to the surface. A particular example of this would be in cases of Involuntary Manslaughter, where the blood money is set to be AED 200,000, although this amount can be adjusted, both as an increase or decrease, by the decision of the Council of Ministers upon the proposal of the Minister of Justice 

Infractions, or contraventions, are also criminal activities but only involve acts or omissions that contravene the UAE Penal Code. The penalties for such crimes involve detention ranging from 24 hours to a maximum of 10 days, with fines not exceeding AED 5,000. 

To Court

And so when the crime is classified into these categories, and a case is filed, with adequate facts and evidence, it would then move to the Court of First Instance, where after hearing both sides, the court will announce a verdict. This court is responsible for handling the first degree of litigation, for cases of civil, criminal, commercial, labor, family and administrative nature. There may also be an appeal after this decision, after which the case would move to the Court of Appeal.

Rights to an Attorney

There is a right to an attorney given to all criminal cases, and in cases where the accused does not have access to, or the means to hire an attorney, the court will provide him with one, after of course, assessing the financial grounds of the person in question. 

Initiating a criminal case in the UAE involves the initial step of filing a complaint with the police while ensuring jurisdictional alignment. The significance of securing proficient legal representation becomes abundantly clear when delving into the intricacies of initiating and navigating a criminal case. 

It is vital to have the best criminal defense lawyer by your side when facing charges, not only to assist you in the courtroom but also to streamline the entire legal process. This includes handling documentation and investigations, fostering and understanding case facts, facilitating communication, providing support, and strategizing the case's design. A criminal defense lawyer is essential to effectively convey your perspective in court, both truthfully and strategically, with the goal of minimizing sentences and fines to the greatest extent possible. 

From the initial phase of the police investigation to the ultimate verdict, it is essential to have the legal guidance of a criminal defense lawyer. 

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 43493428Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.