criminal law


June 29, 2020



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A recent tragedy hit UAE on Thursday, 18 June 2020, when an Indian couple was brutally stabbed and robbed by the accused post breaking and entering in the house with an intention to commit theft.As devastating as it sounds, the couple could not survive the horrific accident; however, their daughters were able to escape the dreadful incident even after sustaining severe injuries. The police authorities of Dubai were successful in arresting the accused within 24 hours of committing the crime and seized the murder weapon. The authorities have confirmed his confession to committing murder and theft at night in the victims dwelling.

The definition of murder as traditionally defined in legal jurisprudence is a homicide committed with mala fide intentions, yet demanding other factors which led to such event. However, in modern days the definition of murder has evolved and entails intentional killing or intentionally causing injuries which may lead to death.

In accordance with Federal Law number 3 of 1987 regarding UAE penal Code, crimes are classified in three different categories being felonies, misdemeanour and contraventions, referring to Article 26 of the foregoing Law. Wherein, Criminal Lawyers of Dubai interpret Murder as a felony as the category of the crime is defined by the punishment mentioned for such crime in the Penal Code. Whereas, Article 38 of the Penal code confirms that the moral element of a crime consists of intent or an error. The intention arises when the accused is willing to move towards committing or omitting an act, where such commission and omission is considered as a crime.

The Crime of Murder and Theft under UAE law

In line with the foregoing, the Penal Code provides penalties for crimes committed against life and safety of human beings residing within the country. Wherein, Article 332 of the Penal Code imposes a penalty of life imprisonment on whoever premeditatedly kills an individual; however, the crime shall be sentenced with the death penalty, if the murder is committed with layaway or with premeditation if it is accompanied by or associated with another crime and other alike circumstances.

The law further defines premeditation under Article 333 as an intent prior to the commencement of the crime against any person, and meditation on measures which are necessary to carry out the crime precisely.

Considering the present circumstances of the case and confirmed by the police authorities, the accused entered victims dwelling with an intention to commit theft, however, was stopped by the victims leading to the victims death by multiple stabbing with a knife. The said circumstances, prima facie indicates that the accused may be charged under Article 333 for committing premeditated murder in an aggravating circumstance as it was associated with another crime (theft committed in a dwelling at night).

Alternatively, the Penal Code under Article 336 states that an accused shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or more in aggravated circumstances if he assaults another person physically in any manner without intending to murder, however, the assault leads to murder and aggravated if accompanied with another crime.

Relying on the present facts of the matter, it is not yet confirmed if the crime for murder was premeditated or was unintentional, as the public prosecutor will charge him on the basis of the intent of the criminal.

The accused further caused injuries to the elder daughter of the deceased by stabbing her with a knife; however, the intention behind such an act is yet to be defined. In such circumstances, if the public prosecutor establishes his intent for an attempt to murder, he shall be charged with half or less penalties as that of committing such crime.

Wherein, the Attempt to commit a crime is defined under Article 34 and 35 of the Penal Code as commencement of the execution of an act with the intention to commit a crime, if its effect is prevented for reasons beyond the control of the felon. In furtherance, Article 35 states that the attempt to commit a crime shall be punishable by imprisonment of life if the penalty designated for the crime death sentence, term imprisonment if the penalty for such crime is life imprisonment and imprisonment for half of the term if the original crime is punished with term imprisonment.

Nevertheless, if the intention to kill is not established, the accused may be charged under Article 339 which states that accused may be charged with detention or fine if he physically assaults another person in any manner which leads to an illness or inability to perform tasks for 20 days and will be considered aggravated if fulfils the conditions under Article 332.

Having said that, Article 382 of the Penal Code defines theft as embezzlement of a movable property owned by a person other than a culprit. However, theft is punished depending upon the circumstances of the crime and may be considered as an aggravated theft, if satisfies several conditions. Pursuant to Article 385 of the penal code, the accused shall be punished with term imprisonment if the theft was committed by coercion or using a weapon for acquiring stolen property.

In addition, Article 388 of the Penal Code states that the punishment shall be a minimum two years to a maximum of 7 years if the crime of theft was committed at night and with a weapon. In the present facts of the matter, the accused may also be charged under Article 389 as the theft was committed by breaking and entering into the house which shall lead to a minimum imprisonment of one year.

The crime committed by the accused was shocking and especially to the unfortunate children who witnessed the incident and death of their parents. Another triggering factor of the crime was the relationship between the accused and the victim to be familiar as the accused was a maintenance worker in the victims house over a year ago and was allured by the money kept in the home of the deceased. The matter is before the relevant police authorities and will be soon transferred to the court for a final judgment.

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