Criminal Law in the UAE: Why is there a need for Legal assistance?

As amended, the UAE’s criminal court procedures are outlined in Federal Law No. 35 of 1992. It consists of a set of regulations that outline the methods and processes for conducting criminal investigations, trying accused parties, passing judgment, establishing the criteria for reviewing judgments by higher courts and carrying out judgments. Criminal cases are often referred to as crimes done against society or the state. The definition of crime is more or less the same in all jurisdictions, but the procedure or penalties may differ in all territories. The following are the 5 most common types of criminal law cases in UAE:

  1. Misdemeanor: These are referred to as petty offenses or just minor crimes. Typically, a misdemeanor carries penalties or a maximum sentence of one year in a local jail. Petty theft, driving while intoxicated, intoxicated possession of alcohol without a license, and other offenses are examples of misdemeanors.
  2. Felony: It entails serious offenses that carry harsher penalties, such as extended prison sentences. The accused may occasionally—in exceptional circumstances—be given the death penalty. Rape, kidnapping, homicide, drug trafficking, treason, etc. are a few examples of crimes classified as felonies.
  3. Juvenile Crimes: The defendants are minors, as suggested by their name (less than 18 years). When considering their age, level of education, and other variables, public prosecutors forgive minor offenders. The Juvenile Delinquents and Vagrants Act, Federal Law 9 of 1976, prevents juveniles from being temporarily imprisoned or handcuffed during the initial investigation. Juvenile offenders’ privacy is maintained while their cases are heard in special care facilities.
  4. Capital Crimes: These are serious offenses that carry the possibility of death or life in prison. These crimes presume that the perpetrator intended to murder or participate in the act. Executions are carried out either by hanging or by firing squad.
  5. Contraventions or Violations: The UAE penal code considers a violation to be an act of omission that is unlawful and punishable. Most punishments involve 24 hours of imprisonment, but they can continue for up to 10 days. Additionally, the accused could be subject to a fine of up to 5,000 AED. There is no need for a full trial for these breaches.

Public Prosecution

Part of the judicial system is the public prosecution. It assumes responsibility for conducting an investigation, filing charges, and referring him to the appropriate court if the accused’s guilt in the crime is established. In collaboration with the International Criminal Police, it also takes on issues relating to the surrender of offenders and its follow-up in compliance with international norms.

However, in some cases as listed in Article 10 of the same Law, written or verbal complaint by the victim or his legal representative are necessary for filing a criminal action. These instances include:

  • theft, breach of trust and the concealment of the proceeds thereof, if the victim is a spouse of the perpetrator or one of the perpetrator’s ascendants or descendants and the proceeds are not seized judicially or administratively or encumbered by a lien in favour of another person
  • refusal to deliver a minor to or taking the minor away from the authority of the minor’s custodian
  • insult, slander and other crimes as specified by the law.

Provided, in the above cases the complaint will not be accepted after three months since the victim knew about the crime and the party who committed a crime, unless otherwise provided by the law.

Following a public prosecutor referral from the police, the prosecutor will separately call the complainant and the accused for an interview. Both parties may also be allowed to call witnesses to testify in favor of them before the prosecutor. The clerk accompanying the prosecutor will also record and have the parties sign the statements of the parties engaged in the complaint in Arabic.

The prosecution will call the defendant to appear before the appropriate criminal court and give the appropriate court information about the crime(s) the defendant is/are charged with if it determines that the criminal action is ready to be filed. If it decides there is no need to proceed with the action, it must order that it be archived.

Lapse of Criminal Actions

A criminal action lapse occurs when the victim drops his complaint. When all victims withdraw their charges, any criminal prosecution will end if there are several victims. The legal heirs can withdraw if the victim dies after filing a claim.

When legislation is repealed, or an amnesty is granted, the criminal case likewise ends. The criminal cases also have a timeline. In the case of a felony (which carries the death penalty), they can expire after 20 years, ten years for all other felonies, three years for misdemeanors, and one year for violations.

Rights to an attorney

Anyone charged with a felony (or a major offense) that carries a death or life sentence may hire a defense attorney to represent them during the trial process.

If the defendant does not designate counsel, the court shall appoint one for him, whose expenses shall be paid by the state following the law.

After demonstrating his inability to pay for legal representation, the defendant in a crime punishable by provisional detention may also seek the court to appoint a counsel to represent him in court.

Why do you need a Lawyer?

When you are the subject of serious accusations, you must retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. It might be intimidating to handle this trying time alone without the correct legal counsel. In addition, there are other things that a competent law company may contribute. Some of the crucial activities performed by the attorney include the documentation process and conducting the inquiry. Additionally, you can only be represented by authorized Emirati attorneys in a court of law.

Below are some of the main benefits of hiring an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer:

  • Thorough understanding of the procedure.
  • Design an effective defense strategy.
  • Reducing the sentence or fines.
  • Mitigate the risk by taking immediate action.
  • Constant moral support.

A UAE lawyer can be your constant support during these challenging times. With an expert advocate, you can navigate through the criminal justice system with much ease.