Criminal Process Part 4: Before Trial

In this 4th of this 6-part series, we let you know what happens when an accused chooses to stand trial.

 

Pre-Trial Conference

The accused may choose to claim trial during the mention of his/her case. Or the accused may need more time to consider what to do or consult with a lawyer before deciding. The Mentions Court will fix the case for a Pre-Trial Conference (“PTC”).

If the accused has decided to claim trial, the purpose of a PTC is to settle the administrative matters relating to the trial. Parties will inform the Judge of the evidence that they will use during the trial. For example, they will indicate the number and names of the witnesses they intend to rely on and if necessary, to request for the assistance of a translator. The Judge will evaluate the status of the proceedings and give further directions of the next steps for each party to take.

If the court determines that the case is ready to go for trial, a trial date will then be fixed. As of the writing of this article, the fact of the matter is that depending on the length of the trial, available dates for trial may be as far away as 4-6 months or even a year. Given that it may be difficult to find available judges for many consecutive days for trial, sometimes trials are broken up into smaller tranches. A recent case that we did which was fixed for 7 days of trial was broken up into 3 tranches, consisting one tranche of 3 days and 2 tranches of 2 days each.

 

Criminal Case Disclosure Conference

One form of PTC is Criminal Case Disclosure Conference (“CCDC”). It is a formalised procedure where both the Prosecution and the accused are under a duty to reveal their respective cases and the evidence they intend to rely on.

As stated in Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”), the following matters will be settled in a CCDC:

(a) the filing of the Case for the Prosecution and the Case for the Defence;
(b) any issues of fact or law which are to be tried by the trial judge at the trial proper;
(c) the list of witnesses to be called by the parties to the trial;
(d) the statements, documents or exhibits which are intended by the parties to the case to be admitted at the trial; and
(e) the trial date.

 

As stated in Section 165 of the CPC, the Case for the Defence prepared and given to the Prosecution must contain the following information:

(a) a summary of the defence to the charge and the facts in support of the defence;
(b) a list of the names of the witnesses for the defence;
(c) a list of the exhibits that are intended by the defence to be admitted at the trial; and
(d) if objection is made to any issue of fact or law in relation to any matter contained in the Case for the Prosecution —

(i) a statement of the nature of the objection;
(ii) the issue of fact on which evidence will be produced; and
(iii) the points of law in support of such objection.

Within two weeks of serving the Case for the Defence to the Prosecution, the Prosecution must provide copies of:

(a) every other written statement given by the accused and recorded by an officer of a law enforcement agency under any law in relation to the charge or charges which the prosecution intends to proceed with at the trial;
(b) for every other statement given by the accused and recorded, in the form of an audio-visual recording, by an officer of a law enforcement agency under any law in relation to the charge or charges that the prosecution intends to proceed with at the trial, a transcript (if any) of the audio-visual recording of that statement;
(c) each documentary exhibit mentioned in section 162(d); and
(d) criminal records, if any, of the accused, upon payment of the prescribed fee.

 

 

Note that CCDC is optional and is only applicable to the Acts listed under the Second Schedule of the CPC.

 

Acts where CCDC may be convened
1. Arms and Explosives Act
2. Arms Offences Act
3. Banishment Act
4. Computer Misuse Act
5. Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act
6. Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act
7. Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act
8. Hijacking of Aircraft and Protection of Aircraft and International Airports Act
9. Immigration Act (Other than sections 6 And 15)
10. Internal Security Act
11. Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act
12. Misuse of Drugs Act
13. Oaths and Declarations Act
14. Official Secrets Act
15. Passports Act
16. Penal Code
17. Prisons Act
18. Protected Areas and Protected Places Act
19. Public Entertainments and Meetings Act
20. Public Order (Preservation) Act
21. Securities and Futures Act
22. Sedition Act
23. Vandalism Act

 

 

Please note that this article does not constitute express or implied legal advice, whether in whole or in part. If you require legal advice, please contact me at walter@silvesterlegal.com.