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. The 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 behaviour.
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 prosecutor.
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
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
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