Criminal law is the system of legal rules that define what conduct is classified as a crime and how the judicial system should prosecute individuals that commit crimes.Criminal law aims to deter and punish conduct which is apparent as threatening, harmful or endangering to the public, its property or moral welfare.Our Criminal Judicial system performs with dual responsibility. This is because criminal law includes the punishment and also rehabilitation of people who violate criminal laws.
In Indian criminal legal proceedings, a man is presumed as innocent until proven guilty. It is said that no innocent person should be convicted. Presumption of innocence is a principle which is enshrined in Indian criminal jurisprudence. Innocence and guilt is to be determined with references to offences or crimes. It has been held by Supreme Court that it is trite law that presumption of innocence is a human right and cannot be overthrown.
Stages of a Criminal Case
When a person is charged of an alleged offense, it is required to follow specific rules of criminal procedure code (CrPC) to protect the accused right’s. A criminal case has numerous distinct stages.
- Information of a cognizable offence and Registration of F.I.R- under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a FIR or First Information Report is registered. FIR puts the case into motion. A FIR is information given by someone (aggrieved) to the police relating to the commitment of an offense.When information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down. The F.I.R registered must be read over to the person making the complaint.
- Information of non-cognizable offence– In case of non-cognizable offence (non cognizable report) is registered by police under section 155 of Cr.P.C. but the police cannot start investigation or arrest the accused without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such case.
- Investigation by Police – Police conduct investigation for evidences, interrogate the statement of the accused, accused the statements of the witnesses etc.
- Framing of Charge: – After considering the police report and other important documents, the court then frames charges under which he is to be trialed. The charge is explained to the accused person.
- Conviction on plea of guilty– If the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record the plea and may, at discretion convicts the accused.
- If the accused pleads not guilty. Case is posted for trial and the trial proceedings of the criminal are followed by the court.
- Prosecution evidence- After the charges are framed, and the accused pleads guilty, then the court requires the prosecution to produce evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. The prosecution is required to support their evidence with statements from its witnesses. This process is called “examination in chief”. The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any person as a witness or orders him to produce any document.
- Statement of the accused- Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code gives an opportunity to the accused to be heard and explain the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Defense evidence– An opportunity is given to the accused in a case where he is not being acquitted to produce so as to defend his case. The defense can produced both oral and documentary evidence. If the accused gives any written statement, it should be recorded by the magistrate.
- Final Arguments- Public Prosecutor and the defense counsel present their arguments and the court generally reserves its order.
- Judgment by the Court– The final decision of the court with reasons given in support of the acquittal or conviction of the accused is known as judgment.