Question: I've been having family problems and I'm in a bad psychological state. I tried to commit suicide but I was arrested and face charges. Can my bad psychological condition be used as an excuse to avoid jail or at least reduce any sentence given to me?
Answer: According to article 60 of UAE Federal Criminal Law No 3 of 1987 and its amendments, "a person shall not be criminally responsible if, at the time of crime, he was unconscious or out of his senses because of madness or mental handicap, or because of unconsciousness caused by drugs, narcotics or intoxicants of any, whether given to him forcibly or taken by him unknowingly, or for any other cause which has been scientifically proven to obliterate comprehension or will". So this means that there are two psychological states that a judge must consider - whether a person is conscious and in control of their actions or whether they are unable to control their actions totally. If the latter is seen as the case, the person would not be liable for an act such as trying to commit suicide. The court has the discretionary power to determine the psychological status of the accused, with the help of medical reports and other means of gaining information, such as defendant and witness interviews. So if you are able to prove that you were unable to control yourself, the court may decide that you are not liable for your actions and the case would be dismissed.
Question: My husband and I are from Africa and he has been arrested for having khat in his bag at the airport. What is the legal status of khat in the UAE and what is likely to happen to my husband?
Answer: Possession of khat, a plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula which when chewed acts as a stimulant, is illegal in the UAE. In the Drugs Law No 14 of 1995 and its amendments, the punishment for possession of such material is a jail sentence of not less than two years. However, the judge has discretionary power under article 42 of the law, so the above sentence could be replaced with one of the following penalties: he could be placed in an addiction treatment unit or rehabilitation centre, set out in Article 4 of the drugs law; he could be fined anything up to Dh10,000; he could be sentenced to do community service. You should note though that it is very likely that his sentence will include deportation.