criminal law

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October 20, 2022

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The law which governs crimes and its penalties in the United Arab Emirates is the Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021 (UAE Penal Code).

The UAE Penal Code came into force from 2 January 2022 and abrogated and repealed the penal code applicable previously, called the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987.

What is premeditated murder?

The UAE Penal Code defines “premeditation” as the predetermining an act beforehand in order to commit a crime against a person and precisely procuring the necessary means to conduct the act.

Article 384 of the UAE Penal Code states that a person who deliberately kills a human being will be sentenced to life imprisonment. That said, Article 384/2 of the UAE Penal Code further clarifies that if the murder is committed with premeditation and deliberation, death penalty will be imposed. Deliberation is understood as lying in wait for a person in one place or several places for a length of time, so as to kill the person by any act of aggression.

Death penalty is also applicable where the murder is associated or connected to another crime, or if the murder is committed against a public official or a person assigned to a public service who was in service during the murder. If toxic or explosive material is used for the murder, death penalty would be imposed even then.

Articles 384 and 385 of the UAE Penal Code state as follows.

“Article 384"

  1. Any person who deliberately kills a human being shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.
  2. Death penalty shall be imposed if the murder is committed with premeditation and deliberation, or if associated with or connected to another crime, or if the murder is committed against any of the ascendants of the criminal, or against a public official or a person assigned to a public service, during or by reason of or in the course of fulfilment of his duty or service, or if toxic or explosive material is used.
  3. If, in any stage of the proceedings, the avengers of blood heir waive their right to retaliation “Qisas” or before the completion of enforcement, the penalty shall be temporary imprisonment for a period not less than seven (7) years.

"Article 385"

Premeditation means the predetermination of an act beforehand to commit a crime against any person and the precise procurement of necessary means to conduct the act.

Deliberation means lying in wait for a person in one place or several places for a length of time whether long or short, so as to kill or to the said person by any act of aggression.”

Unintentional Killing

There could be situations where the perpetrator did not deliberately kill the human but inflicted bodily injury or assault on the victim which resulted in the death of the victim. In such cases, Article 387 of the UAE Penal Code may be applicable.

Article 387 of the UAE Penal Code states that any person who inflicts bodily harm to another person in any way, where killing the victim is not intended but the assault results in the death of the victim, such person will be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding ten years.

If premeditation or deliberation is involved, or the crime is associated with another crime or the victim is a public official or any toxic or explosive material is used, then these circumstances will be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

An important point to note is that, if the perpetrator was drunk or intoxicated while committing bodily injury resulting in the death of the victim, then this would also be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

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