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Criminal Law is applied when a person commits a crime such as theft, forgery, murder, rape and any other kind of acts that are considered a ‘crime’ as per the UAE penal code of Law. When a person is charged with a crime, they are arrested by the police and tried before the Criminal courts.
Civil Law, on the other mostly refers to disputes between the parties and is applied when a dispute is filed by one person against the other and/or entity. A variety of matters will have a civil cause of action, such as property disputes, commercial disputes, disputes for sale and purchase, rental matters, action in tort etc.
Both the criminal and civil courts are different, and the judges of the said courts are also assigned with varied and have distinctive powers. For example, a criminal court judge can sentence the offender with a jail term while the civil court judge can order the judgment debtor to make the payments due to the judgment creditor and, if such orders are not followed, to impose seizure of assets and warrant for arrest as well.
It is important to understand that both Civil and Criminal proceedings can often run parallel to each other, and in some instances, the civil proceedings can be temporarily withheld if there exists a criminal case pending before the court in connection with the civil case. As stated in article 28 of the Federal Law no. (35) of 1992 ‘Concerning the Criminal Procedural Law’, “Where the civil case is brought before the civil court, it must be stopped until a decisive judgment is rendered in the criminal action filed prior to or during the examination of the civil case.
However, if the criminal action is stayed due to the insanity of the accused, the civil action shall be decided in the presence of his curator. Stopping the civil action shall not prevent taking the summary precautionary measures. Procedures prescribed in this Law shall be followed when deciding the civil action brought before the criminal court. Stopping of the civil action brought before the civil court shall cease, when the criminal court renders an incriminating judgment in the absence of the accused, as from the day on which expired the delay allowed for the appeal to be lodged by the public prosecution or from the day of deciding the appeal.”
In summary, thus, a civil suit can be temporary withheld until the final judgment is obtained in the criminal case that is filed in the same subject matter. Any person who has been accused of a serious crime such as ‘felony’ as opposed to less serious crimes such as ‘misdemeanors’ should appoint a criminal trial lawyer to defend them before the criminal courts and to prove their innocence. The UAE’s criminal procedure law presumes innocence until proven guilty and does not impose a penalty until the accused is proven guilty as per the Law. An expert criminal trial lawyer is best suited to advise and handle the defense strategy in criminal matters.