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A crime can be classified generally as ‘misdemeanours’ and ‘felony’ depending on the seriousness of the offence.
‘Misdemeanors’ constitute the more minor or less serious crimes as opposed to felonies. A misdemeanour is usually punishable only by fines or imprisonment of a term not more than a year. Offences that are termed as misdemeanours can comprise petty theft, driving under the influence of alcohol etc.
‘Felony’ on the other hand, constitutes a serious crime that is characterized by more stringent punishments, including longer imprisonment sentences. The type of offences that constitute a ‘felony’ includes murder, rape, drug trafficking etc.
Different stages of a misdemeanour or felony charge:
In this stage, the police will refer the complainant to the relevant section of the police department, which would be responsible for investigating the offence. At this stage, the police will proceed to record the statement of the parties, and once the investigation is completed, the complaint will be finalized and referred to a public prosecutor for further steps.
Public prosecution Stage:
A criminal complaint is referred to the public prosecution office at this stage. The public prosecutors are authorized judicial authorities who are empowered to review the cases referred to them and to conclusively record if a criminal offence has taken place or not.
The public prosecutors often summons both the complainant and the accused and also provide them with the opportunity to bring witnesses on their behalf. Statements of both the parties and their witnesses are recorded, and the parties are also required to sign the statements. The public prosecutor then proceeds to file the criminal case before the criminal court for further steps.
On the other hand, if the public prosecutor records that the crime has not been established, then further steps will not be issued.
Criminal Court Stage:
The UAE criminal courts comprise of three court stages, namely, the First Instance Court, Court of Appeal and the Cassation Court. Within the first instance court itself, ‘Misdemeanors’ are tried before a single judge, and ‘Felonies’ are tried before a panel of three judges.
The procedure before a criminal court comprises of trial stage wherein the claims are heard by the Court, and all the parties are allowed the time to present their claims. An accused person is required to appear in person when summoned to the Court for a hearing. The Court will ask the accused to either plead guilty or to otherwise respond to the charges. If the accused pleads ‘not-guilty’, the Court will proceed to set another subsequent hearing date to allow the accused to present his defence and also to bring witnesses on his behalf.
Once the Court is satisfied that the pleadings are completed and the evidence, including witness hearings has been completed, the Court will proceed to issue its verdict. A verdict from the Court of the first instance can be appealed within fifteen days’ time period before the Court of Appeal, and a final verdict from the Court of appeal can be appealed within thirty days’ time period before the Cassation Court.