It is important for any accused in any criminal case to understand what his rights are in criminal sessions and to be able to at least imagine how things might work in such sessions or how the law is organized. That is why, I felt it was important to draft this article on the basis of the Criminal Procedures Law, Federal Law No. (35) Of 1992 and its amendments.
In general, attendance of the accused is mandatory in the criminal cases unless the expected sentence of the crime does not include jail or deportation and is only limited to fines.
The second scenario where the accused does not have to attend is when he appeared at the first hearing, and heard about the charges raised by the Prosecutor and accepted to face the trial. However, in both cases, the courts always have the discretionary power to request the personal attendance of the accused.
In all cases, if the accused is not able to attend and has valid and justifiable reasons, he has the right to send his lawyer or his family member to explain to the criminal courts the reason for his absence or why he has failed to appear before the court and to request for another hearing date as per Article No. 160 of the Criminal Procedures Law, Federal Law No. (35) Of 1992 and its amendments.
Only if the Court considers the reason to be valid and decided to accept it, they have the discretionary power to shift the hearing date to another day for the accused. The accused then shall be presented to the court without any handcuffs or shackles. However, he still has to be under necessary observation.
The accused has the right to attend the hearing unless he causes disruption or disturbance, in which case, the court will have the discretionary power to remove him from the hearing but has to informed and notified of all that events that took place during proceedings.
In all hearings, Prosecutor has to attend and the Court has to consider his request and give their decision. Throughout the criminal court proceeding, respecting the order and the procedures is mandatory. If anyone of the audience disturbs its order, the judges have the right to direct his or her removal from the hearing. If he or she refuses, the court has the right to put him in jail for 24 hours and ask him to pay a fine.
Most of the hearings have to be held in public, unless the courts decide to have the hearing in a closed session in order to prevent certain individuals from attending.
In the beginning of the hearing, the accused and his lawyer (if there is an appointed lawyer) would be requested to appear before the judge. The accused might be asked about his name, profession, nationality, and he shall know what the charges that he is facing are. The prosecutor then shall be given the time to talk. If the victim files a civil claim before the criminal courts he shall be given the chance to mention his request to the court. The accused then shall be asked about the charges and whether he or she is admitting to them or not. If he admits, the courts have the discretionary power to issue a judgment without a witnesses hearing. That is more likely to happen if he pleads guilty, unless the expected sentence could include a death sentence, in which case, the courts have to complete the investigation process.