Preliminary Objections in Criminal Law (Pt. 1)
Preliminary Objections in Criminal Law
In criminal matters, after the arrest of the suspect and the investigation of his case. The next is that the state shall prefer a charge against the suspect if in course of the investigation they obtained sufficient evidence to prosecute the Defendant. The Defendant will then be taken to the court. Charge is the crime to which the Defendant is alleged in the court to have committed. While charge sheet is the document evidencing the crime to which the Defendant is prosecuted in the court.
In criminal matters, arraignment is the first phase of the proceedings. Arraignment is the act of reading the charge to the Defendant in a way that he will understand the charge that is preferred against him. In a simple term, arraignment has to do with reading out the charge to the Defendant in the court. After arraignment, the Defendant will be expected to take his plea.
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However, before taking the plea, the Defendant can decide on other options that we are going to outline in this piece:
The Defendant may raise preliminary objections to the charge that was preferred against him. He may raise preliminary objection to the Jurisdiction of the court or the defectiveness of the charge. Jurisdiction is the threshold upon which the court can decide a matter. This is the right that the court has to entertain the matter between the prosecution and the defendant. The law demands that the prosecution should prefer the charge in the right court and avoid forum shopping.
However, if the defendant notice that the criminal charge was preferred against him in the wrong court, it will incumbent upon him to raise preliminary objection to that effect. The court will decide on the preliminary objection and give ruling. If the court ruled in the favour of the Defendant that they lack the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, they will strike out the case and discharge the Defendant.
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The Defendant may also raise preliminary objection to any defect on the Charge preferred against him. If the charge is found to be defective, the court shall strike out the suit.
The Defendant is expected to raise the objection timeously. However, the objection to the jurisdiction of the court can be raised at any time even on appeal. In most jurisdictions, once the power of the court to entertain the matter is contested in the court, the court will suspend the trial and decide the objection.
Refusal to plead
He may refuse to plead to the charge. He shall thereafter be asked by the court for his reasons. Where the court us of the view that those reasons are not valid and the defendant still refuses to plead, a plea of guilty shall be entered on his behalf and the trial shall proceed.
He may stand mute and the court shall call evidence to determine whether his muteness is of malice or due to the visitation of God. If the court finds that his muteness is of malice, a plea of not guilty shall be entered and the trial shall proceed. However, if his muteness is of the visitation of God (insanity) the trial shall not proceed and the defendant shall be ordered to be detained until the pleasure of the Governor is known.