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The pith of criminal law depends on two elements Actus Reus and Mens Rea derived from the legal maxim "actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea" which means no act is punishable without a guilty mind.
examination of a mental component essential for wrongdoing will be
limited with reference to the utilization of this term itself, in so far
as it connotes the mental component important to convict for any
wrongdoing, and just in regards to violations not based on negligent
A bare review of the laws manifests that it is easy to determine the
criminal intent of a person as he is always aware of acts and the
consequences attached to it, yet it is one of the difficult tasks before
the criminal court, depending upon varying circumstances of the case.
The major difference between criminal intent and negligence, as
understood by best Criminal Lawyers in Dubai, remains in the fact that
whether or not the accused was in his state of mind to understand the
consequences of the act he is committing.
The intention of the Law
The Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 concerned the UAE Penal Code (the
Code) provides for the basis of criminal intention. According to the
Code under Article 38 the essence of a criminal act lies in the intent
or mistake. Accordingly, the intent is based on three further elements
which are knowledge, foresight and desire. Wherein, the knowledge in
such circumstances known as actus reus or the act itself, foresight
means the awareness of the consequences of such act under the law and
desire leads to the outcome of such act.
Whereas, any act will be considered as a mistake if it was committed
with sheer recklessness, negligence, non-observance of law, and
carelessness. The Code has vested discretionary powers in criminal
judges and prosecutors to determine the criminal intent by conducting
comprehensive and intense interrogations from which they may conclude
the guilt of the accused. On the contrary to the foregoing, a criminal
judge is not bound by the evidence produced by the public prosecutor, he
may take an altogether different path and dismiss the case.
Criminal Intent and Judicial Interpretation of UAE courts
Criminal judges, contingent on the courts, hold wide discretionary
powers while passing a decision on a particular criminal case.
Fundamentally, they frame their own beliefs while determine the element
of criminal intent and asses the evidence presented by the public
prosecutor and the defence submitted by the accused. Court's utmost
focus is to achieve an obvious result on the basis of the evidence
presented to either convict the accused of the criminal act or acquit
him due to insufficient evidence to prove his guilt.
In this article, we will exhibit how the courts in the UAE at the
diverse dimensions have approached and investigated the moral component
of intent through various decisions of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has through Cassation Court Case Number 478 of 2016
provided factors to establish or set aside the criminal intent which
includes merits of the case, evidence produced before the court,
circumstances and the precedents. The foregoing case determined the
criminal intent while escaping the police custody. Supreme Court further
held that in crime for desertion, the accused fulfils the moral element
of criminal intent when he tried to escape from police custody. The
happening of an event or the distance he travelled is irrelevant as long
as the intention to do a crime is established.
The knowledge of possessing narcotics drugs establishes the very criminal intent which was deduced from Court of Cassation Case Number 274 of 2016,
wherein the court held that the criminal intent would exist if the
accused was aware of the substances in possession. It is the right of
the court to draw a nexus between the occurrence of an act along with
the criminal intent on the basis of evidence and investigation by the
Another landmark judgement assisting us to understand the factors
affecting criminal intent and varied opinion of criminal court judges is
Cassation Court Case Number 730 of 2005. In the said case, the
crime for misappropriation of funds or fraud by a public servant most
definitely involves a criminal intent along with an intention to
squandering funds of the government as claimed by the public prosecutor.
However, the defendant pleaded not guilty and argued on the basis of
lack of moral intent, and no damage was caused to the funds. The Court
of First Instance opined that the combined acts of all the defendants
portray a moral unity which brought them together to commit such act.
Along with moral unity, both the accused were informed about the
consequences and the outcome of the criminal act. The court of Appeal
supported the same opinion. However, the Supreme Court set aside the
order passed by First Instance and the appeal and ordered for a re-trial
before a different bench of the Appeal court. The Court of Appeal had a
disparate opinion and held that accused were not guilty of the offence
as the elements of criminal intent were not satisfied. The matter again
referred to the Supreme Court where they confirmed the criminal intent
of the accused. The court held that implementation of specific contracts
to avoid the lawful procedure built the very basis of criminal intent.
It Concludes that
The aforementioned precedents simplified by Criminal Lawyers in Dubai
assisted the courts and the public prosecutor in analyzing the merits,
evidence and the circumstances of the case in such a manner which
highlights the mens rea along with actus reus. However, the evaluation
or analysis may still vary depending upon the discretion and
understanding of the criminal court in such circumstances.