Murder as per UAE Penal Code

Federal Law Number 3 of 1987

Legally speaking, murder is said to be the killing of a human being by another person who intends to do such an act without the permission of the law or authority. In the UAE, Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 of the UAE Penal Code covers crimes such as murder. Federal Law Number 3 introduced the UAE Penal Code, which lists all penalties that can be imposed on criminals for crimes that threaten the life and safety of people within the UAE. There are many expert criminal lawyers that make the UAE free and safe from criminal activities. In this article, we will focus on the different categories of murder, a detailed discussion on attempted murder, and the punishment for these crimes as per the legal provisions in UAE.


Categories of crimes

The UAE Penal code under article 26 of the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987, divided crimes into three categories which are felonies, infractions, and misdemeanors. Crimes are classified on the basis of the punishment that comes with committing such a crime, as mentioned in the Penal Code. In the Emirates, murder is classified as a felony, and the penalty is life imprisonment.


Punishment for murder

 The legislator specified in Article 332 of the UAE Penal Code, the punishment for murder:

  1. Whoever intentionally kills a person shall be punished with life imprisonment;
  2. The penalty shall be the death penalty if the killing occurred with premeditation and deliberation, or in conjunction with or linked to another crime, for instance; murder and theft together or if it occurred against one of the offender’s relatives, or against a public official or a person charged with public service, during, or on the occasion of the fulfillment of his job or service, or with the help of toxic or explosive material;
  3. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than seven years if the blood guardians pardon their right to retribution at any stage of the lawsuit or before the completion of the execution.


Premediated murder:

The death penalty in cases of premeditated murder associated with or related to another crime comes as a result of the multiplicity of crimes within a short period of time, where the offender does not hesitate to commit two crimes.


Moral Element of crime

As per Article 38 of the UAE Penal Code the moral element of the crime will also be taken into consideration, whether the crime was committed by the perpetrator with intent or by mistake. As for the difference between unintentional murder and premeditated murder, it is represented in the moral element only, which is in the crime of premeditated murder with criminal intent, i.e., the offender’s free will to commit the crime of murder, and he is fully aware of the results of his action. However, unintentional murder is the result of the offender’s negligence, lack of attention, carelessness, or non-compliance with regulations and laws.


Unintentional murder

Article 342 of the Penal Code sets out the penalty for whoever caused by his own mistake the death of a person, as it says:

  1. A person who accidentally causes the death of any person shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine or by one of these two penalties. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and a fine if the crime occurred as a result of the offender’s breach of what is imposed on him by his job, profession, or trade, or if he was under the influence of drunkenness or anesthesia at the time of the accident, or at that time refrained from assisting the victim or from helping him even though he was able to do so.
  2. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than two years and not exceeding five years, and a fine if the act results in the death of more than three people. If another circumstance mentioned in the previous paragraph is present, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than three years and not exceeding seven years and a fine.


Murder without intent

In addition, Article 336 states that if a person assaults another person with no intent to kill him, but the assault ends in him being killed, along with other crimes, the killer shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years depending on the extreme circumstances. If any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph two of Article 332 are available, this shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.


Shariah Law

In deciding the punishment for the offender, Shariah law plays a vital role. Accordingly, a court ruling of conviction or non-conviction can only be made after consulting the blood relatives of the deceased. The relatives of the deceased have three options:

  1. They can demand the death penalty;
  2. waive their right to the death penalty and demand the blood money instead; or
  3. pardon the killer entirely without any sentence

If the accused is found guilty, the sentence has two aspects. One is based on Shariah, which is decided by the family, and the second is the criminal sentence, which is decided by the judge in court. Thus, a killer who gets a full pardon from the family will still have to face a criminal sentence, usual imprisonment for a certain number of years, because of the criminal aspect of his actions. On the other end of the scale, a killer sentenced to death at the will of the family often receives a prison sentence from the court, although the death penalty renders such punishment practically irrelevant. Judges may also choose more lenient prison terms for killers if the family demands blood money.


Attempted murder

Likewise, Articles 34 and 35 of the UAE Penal Code define attempted offenses such as murder as the initiation of a crime or the commission of an act with the real intention of doing so but not completed due to extenuating circumstances beyond the offender’s control. Article 35 sets out the penalties for attempted crimes.

  1. Life imprisonment if the penalty prescribed for the crime is death;
  2. Temporary imprisonment if the penalty for the crime is life imprisonment.
  3. Imprisonment for a period not exceeding half the maximum penalty prescribed for the crime or imprisonment if the penalty is temporary imprisonment.

Therefore, the penalty for attempted murder is life imprisonment because the penalty for the complete crime is death. However, in awarding the punishment for attempted murder the punishment is not fixed, the court will have to look at the different circumstances in each case, thereby enhancing, reducing, or dismissing the sentence of imprisonment.

In UAE, the courts have awarded different penalties to offenders of attempted murder, considering the circumstances of each case:

  1. In 2009, the Dubai Court of First Instance dropped a charge of attempted murder against a worker (27 years old Nepalese suspect) who tried to kill his colleague (26 years old Indian) when he asked him to smoke outside their room after they reconciled.
  2. The Fujairah shariah court sentenced five UAE nationals to three years in jail for trying to murder a compatriot during a dispute over money.
  3. Two men who were sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to kill a 15-year-old near his house in Al Rashidiya with some friends had their sentences increased to two years by the Appeals Court. A policeman who witnessed the attack said the youths obviously meant to kill the boy.