Criminal Court Procedures in UAE

Criminal cases in UAE are specified by Federal Law Number (35) of 1992 as it concerns the Criminal Procedural Law. The law was enforced by late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on June 15, 1992, and includes a set of rules that designate the procedure and measures for criminal investigation, the trial of the defendant, interpreting judgment, circumstances for appealing judgment at higher courts, and the execution of that judgment. The first step in the criminal proceeding is to file a complaint before the police by the victim against the wrongdoer. The file of complaint must mention all the occurrences and sequence of events that took place in regards to the criminal offense. There are two ways of registering a complaint in the UAE. It can either be in written form or can be done orally which will be recorded before the police by the accuser.

The law in UAE provides a satisfactory balance that values the personal freedom of an individual and the fortification of the public. The set of procedures put forward ensures the certainty that no criminal escapes without punishment. To initiate and prosecute criminal proceedings, Article (7) of the Criminal Procedure Law gives public prosecution exclusive jurisdiction to proceed with a criminal trial and also to keep track until the ruling is condensed. Furthermore, it checks on criminals that are willing to surrender and supplement with international conventions in ordinance with international criminal police. Nevertheless, there are some instances where filling out the complaint in written or oral form is mandatory for criminal proceedings in UAE courts as per Article (10) of the same law. This case includes the guardian taking the minor away from the custodian without court approval, theft, breach of trust, insult, slander, and other crimes as listed by the law.

It is therefore significant for an individual residing in UAE to know one’s rights and obligations in consideration of UAE Criminal Procedural Law and the measures for inquiry, trial, verdict, and indictment among others.


Constitutional Rights and Duties of Citizens According to Criminal Procedural Law in UAE

The Constitution describes the core laws of the political and constitutional association of the country which shows the significant reason behind the establishment of the federation at the local and district level. There are 152 Articles established in UAE which provide the base to protect the citizens of this nation in ten(10) focused areas which are (The federation, its constituencies and principal aims, The fundamental social and economic basis of the federation, Public freedom, rights and duties, The federal authorities, Federal legislation, decrees and authorities in charge, The emirates, Allocation of legislative, executive and international jurisdiction between the federation and the emirates, Financial affairs of the federation, Armed forces and security forces, Final and transitional provisions). Under Article 1 of the constitution, the UAE stands independent comprising seven emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah. It demonstrates an individual should not be arrested, searched, imprisoned, or investigated except under certain situations and conditions listed in the law. This ensures that no one will be penalized for criminal conduct without proper guidelines approved by the Law which are easily found under the federal judiciary. Article (2) states that custody and detention of an individual should be under the rules set by the law enforced by an authorized authority that sanctions a warrant with a listed place for detention within the mentioned time frame. Article (3) states that a member of a government body, for example, police, is not permitted to enter the residence area until and unless approved by law or exceptionally under the request of assistance from the premises or there is a risk of life that needs immediate action. Under Article (48), the right to an individual who has witnessed a crime like a felony or a misdemeanor which can be understood in simple terms followed by most countries around the world where the legal system separates between very serious crimes and less serious crime which may not need an arrest warrant and can bring the offender to police custody. Nonetheless, Article (25) states that if the accusation made by the victim is false and has caused damage incurred to the accused, the criminal court may ask for compensation by anyone who has made a false accusation upon request. For example, a person’s reputation could face problems due to false accusations for which damages may be in terms of money being compensated.


Constitutional Rights to an Attorney:

Constitutional Right to an attorney refers to the right to have a lawyer. At the trial stage, In Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977), the Supreme Court apprehended that a defendant gains the right to an attorney “at or after the time that judicial proceedings have begun against him an international basis. The accused is permitted to appoint a lawyer to defend him when one is imprisoned for a serious crime such as murder, money laundering, or arm robberies that can result from a death sentence or life imprisonment. If the accused fails to hire a lawyer for any reason either he cannot afford or lawyers are not ready to take the case, the lawyer shall be given by the court to represent the accused whose payment will be acquired by the states as per Article (4) which states that the fees are to be made by the court when an accused is unable to pay which usually be generated from the tax funds of nation. There can be a question over usage of community money to be used for accused of crimes that were initially against the society. This is where the federal law upholds the right of an accused involved in serious crime to services funded by the government which is justified if the accused is convicted by fine or imprisonment.


Proceeding Criminal Action and Detention of the Convict in UAE

The proceeding with criminal charges can begin with the simple registering of the crime near the local police station from where the crime was committed. The police department will make a statement to send to the prosecutor within the next 48 hours of filling the complaint where the convicts’ charges will be questioned. Article (7) states that the public prosecution has the right to file and proceed with criminal proceedings in certain situations listed under the law. Moreover, Article (11) states that public prosecution should be informed of the complaint submitted stating if the accused was caught committing an offense to a police officer present at the crime scene at that moment.

At this stage of the investigation, the issuing of a warrant will be in check concerning an international warrant. As per Article (44), the statement upon the arrival of the judicial officer must be drafted for everyone present at the crime scene and these presents should not be permitted to leave until the statement is completed to ensure the evidence belonging to the crime scene are not lost(individual are not willing to volunteer with a crime). Furthermore, anyone with information in regards to the crime can be called upon by the reporting officer present at the scene which would not be possible if people are to be let go from the crime scene.

If enough evidence is present at the crime scene against the accused of the action crime, the judicial officer can order the arrest of the accused under Article (45) of the law. In case the accused is not at the crime scene, the judicial officer can order an arrest warrant which needs to be mentioned in the statement and approved by the public authority officer under Article (46).

Once the accused is under custody, the judicial officer must read the statement given by the accused and check if there is any supporting evidence that could be a match between what is found at the crime scene to what the accused stated during the investigation that proves the accused innocence. On failure of such evidence, the accused must be transferred to the opposite public prosecution within 48 hours. The accused will be questioned within the next 24 hours based on which his arrest will be determined as per Article (47) which states the accused arrest will be based on the interrogation done during the first 24 hours by the public prosecution. In detention, the individual will be permitted to make the phone call but the privacy of that call will not be guaranteed. Moreover, there is no further extension of the timeframe which is usually the case with some judicial systems.


Examination of Persons and Houses, Public Prosecution Investigation and Jurisdiction Over Criminal Cases:

Examination of the accused person can be done within immediate control for the safety of police officers and search of the house is to expand the search possibility to find any supporting evidence. Under Article (51) when the authorization of an accused arrest is confirmed, the judicial officer may search the accused for concealed weapons by running over the clothing and through the pockets or things found near crime that can be used for further investigation. As per Article (52), if the accused committing the crime is a female, a female officer will be assigned to search the accused. Moreover, the oath will be taken by the officer that she will be truthful in her duties. The witness present at the time of investigation must also be a female. As per Article (53), if there is a lack of evidence that supports the accusation of the defender, the judicial officer may not initiate the search order unless with the written grant approved by the public prosecution (warrant).

Under Article (65) when the accused is convicted of serious crimes as of misdemeanors, the public prosecution can proceed with the prosecution on its own with regards to an emergency. Nevertheless, the investigation taking place should be in Arabic.  An event where the party giving a statement does not know Arabic must be provided with an interpreter who should perform his or her duty under oath as per Article (70). Most cases will be dealt with under court at the first instance. Nevertheless, criminal cases will be under the authority of the Federal Supreme Court. As per Article (139), Misdemeanors Criminal Court will handle all cases of misbehavior and minor felonies.


Notification of Parties, Appearance before the Court and Hearing the Case and Issuing of Judgment

The notice to appear in Infront of the court shall be issued by public prosecution in terms of referral order under Article (156) where the time allowed should be a day for minor offenses(less serious crimes, class D felonies, and infraction cases) and 3 days for misbehavior which is a lesser crime than a felony that is likely to be compensated with monetary value and 10 days for felonies where it’s a serious crime that can lead to a death sentence or life imprisonment as per Article (158).

When the accused commits the crime of felonies or misdemeanors, he is personally liable to come to court for judgment. Nevertheless, the accused of minor offenses under Article (160) can claim for an experienced criminal lawyer to represent him instead. Under Article (161), most hearings will take place in public but it may be decided in private sessions considering the moral obligation and controlling the public. As per Article (164), the accused should walk free in court without any handcuffs but will be monitored nevertheless.

The trial shall begin with the introduction of parties and witnesses and background of the accused like surname, nationality, place of residence following the charges against the accused, and the claim made by the plaintiff in terms of the damages suffered. The verdict may pass upon confessions of the accused but the accused may deny the charges against him. The court will take consideration of the witnesses and if the crime is serious, it will intricate further investigation. Under Article (173), a fine not less than one thousand dirhams (1000dhs) will be imposed on the accused for failure to appear in front of the court. Article (189) states that if the person fails to attend and his representative is not present in court. The court will pass the judgment in absentia.

The judgment will be based on the personal conviction of the judge. Nevertheless, under Article (209) no judgment will be based on the evidence that was not physically present in the court. Regardless of judgment concluded in the closed gathering, the verdict will be announced in an open session.

If the crime is not proven beyond doubt or is not punishable under the listed law. The accused is clear and free to go as per Article (211). If the accused is guilty of a crime, the court shall pass the verdict and punish the offender under Article (212).


Application, Revocation, and Execution of the Judgment

The court of revocation or cassation is where the law can be re-interpreted but not necessarily re-examine the case presented. The accused is entitled to challenge the verdict by court of the first instance in a criminal trial this allows the individual to change the decision of the lower court. Under Article (230) the accused is granted legal right on their own therefore, one may not need any authorization to challenge the verdict of the lower court. Once the judgment is passed, the accused has 15 days to submit the report to the clerk of court of appeal Article (234). Nevertheless, this usually is the case for minor offenses for the more serious crime as specified in Article (244) the plaintiff, the prosecution can challenge the decision by a court of appeal at the Court of Cassation in a felony. As per Article 257, a report from the lower court can be given to review the final judgment to a competent court where there can be an imposition of judgment as per Article (257). The public prosecution will enforce the final verdict in criminal cases and if required further aid can be obtained from public authority as per Article (272). The aforementioned overview can be a general guide to proceed with criminal cases in UAE. There can be minor changes of jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the right of the plaintiff and defendant can be protected with proper legal certainty.