Criminal law is a branch that deals with criminal offenses and their regulations. It regulates various functions such as apprehension charging, the trial of suspected persons, fixes penalties, renders judgment, and set conditions for appealing judgment at upper courts. In UAE, criminal cases are handled by the public prosecution department. Public prosecution is part of the judicial body. The department is responsible for prosecuting individuals or companies accused of illegal dealings. The Federal Law No. 35 of 1992, as amended, describes the procedures for criminal cases in the UAE.
Contrary to popular opinion the UAE penal code is not entirely based on Islamic Sharia. However, it still derives many elements from Sharia law. Emirates individually have also suspended many Sharia punishments. One of the few elements that still exist is the payment of blood money. Other Sharia punishments are replaced with jail terms. 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:
- Misdemeanors: These are described as small crimes or just minor offenses. A misdemeanor is primarily punishable by fines or jail time not exceeding a year in local prisons. Some of the offenses that are termed misdemeanours are petty thefts, driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of alcohol without a license, etc.
- Felony: It constitutes significant crimes committed that attract more severe punishments, including lengthy jail terms. Sometimes in rare cases, the accused may be awarded death punishment. Some of the offenses termed felonies are rape, kidnapping, manslaughter, drug trafficking, treason, etc.
- Juvenile Crimes: As the name indicates, the accused are minors (less than 18 years). Public prosecution is lenient towards minor offenders considering their age, education, and other factors. The Federal Law 9 of 1976 (Juvenile Delinquents and Vagrants Act) protects minors from temporary imprisonment or being handcuffed during the primary investigation. Juvenile crimes are heard at special care houses, and special care is given to maintain juvenile offenders’ privacy.
- Capital Crimes: These are grave offenses that amount to life imprisonment or the death penalty. These types of crimes are presupposed with the individual’s intent to kill or get involved in the act. The executions are carried out either by firing squad or hanging.
- Contraventions (prohibitions): The crime of contravention is considered an act of omission that is punishable under the UAE penal code. The punishments usually amount to the custody of 24 hours, and it can last up to 10 days. The accused may also have to bear a fine not more than AED 5,000. These violations do not require a full-blown trial.
*Fines paid in the form of punishment are not considered compensation to victims. Moreover, it can’t be used to settle pending cases in civil courts. The fines are fees that you pay, belong to the government of UAE.
Lapse of Criminal Actions
If the victim withdraws his complaint, it is called a criminal action lapse. If there are multiple victims, criminal action will lapse when all victims withdraw their complaints. In a scenario where the victim dies after submitting a complaint, the legal heirs have the right to withdraw.
The criminal case also lapses with the repeal of the law or issuance of an amnesty. There is also a timeline for the criminal cases. They can expire after 20 years in case of a felony (punished by death sentence), 10 years in all other felonies, 3 years in misdemeanour, and 1 year in case of contravention.
Rights to an Attorney
All accused in the criminal case, major or minor, has the right to an attorney. Generally, anyone charged with a felony or other serious crimes can appoint a criminal defense lawyer at the trial stage. According to Article 4 of Federal Law no. 35 of 1992 (General Provisions), any person accused of a felony must be assisted by a credible lawyer. If the accused does not have the means to hire a lawyer, the court provides him with a lawyer. The state bears the fee, in this case. Before appointing the lawyer at the state’s expenditure, the court would verify the financial inability of the accused.
How can a lawyer help you?
The service of a competent criminal defense lawyer is a must when you are facing serious allegations. Facing this stressful time alone without proper legal guidance can be daunting. Apart from this, there are other additional things that a qualified law firm can bring to the table. The documentation process and carrying out the investigation are some of the essential tasks done by the lawyer. Moreover, only licensed Emirati lawyers are allowed to represent you 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.
The severity of the crime defines its type and how it is tried in court. It also dictates how crucial it is to hire a competent lawyer to defend you in court. If you are not satisfied with the verdict given in lower courts, you can also appeal in higher courts. Proceedings in a criminal case can be intimidating for the accused, especially if they are expats. The penal code and process may differ from their home country.
From the very first step of police investigation to the final verdict, we can be with you and lead a successful defense. Our skilled and experienced team of Criminal Defense experts offers our services in all emirates of UAE. You can visit our office located in Sharjah, Dubai, and RAK. If you can not travel, you can always book an appointment for a paid phone consultation or online video calls. Our legal experts can describe your legal position and possible outcomes.