There is limited awareness around the Criminal Justice System among citizens in Pakistan. As a result, in the case that individuals encounter a crime, whether they are the victimized or the accused, they lose out on the most strategic ways to navigate such situations. And so, perpetrators of crime either get away with their acts or those who have been falsely accused end up in jail. This blog aims to take you through the workings of the criminal justice system in Pakistan.
What is the Criminal Justice System (CJS)?
The Criminal Justice System (CJS) is the set of laws, principles, and procedures intended to process cases against accused persons and subsequently, hold those guilty accountable in ways that law prescribes. The purpose of our CJS is to control crime, prevent crime, punish offenders, protect the innocent, get justice for victims, and maintain a fair degree of cohesion and stability in society. The system describes the offences, punishments, procedures, and ways to punish those who violate laws of the society.
The three main contributors/agencies of the Criminal Justice System are:
And, the two main laws governing the Criminal Justice System are:
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898
- The Pakistan Penal Code, 1860
Step by Step Process
So how does it work?
Step 1: Register the FIR
The process begins with registering the FIR (First Information Report). It is the responsibility of the victim to reach out to the police and register the FIR as soon as possible. But it’s seen that there’s normally a delay between the occurrence of a crime and the filing of complaints. Such delays hamper the victim’s case and can also be held against them in the court of law. Therefore it’s essential to create awareness among people and urge them to file the FIR as soon as possible after the crime occurs.
Step 2: Police Investigation & Inquiry
After filing an FIR, the next step is the investigation and inquiry of the case. It’s carried out by the Police’s Investigation Officer (IO) who handles the crime scene, collects the evidence of the offence committed and records the statements of the eye-witnesses, the accused, and potential suspects. The IO is supposed to be a competent officer who maintains an unbiased approach throughout the investigation and inquiry. Unfortunately, evidence handling and collection aren’t carried out properly and the sanctity of the crime scene, and the evidence, aren’t preserved in Pakistan, which can have an adverse impact on the case. Once the investigation and inquiry stage is complete the police draw up an investigation challan which is the final and conclusive investigation report.
Step 3: Criminal Prosecution and Trials
Once the IO submits the investigation challan, the accused is charged and the trial properly commences. The public prosecutor (a lawyer appointed by the state) pleads the case for the complainant/victim of a crime (albeit to assist the prosecution; the complainant is free to hire a private lawyer) while a defense lawyer pleads the case on behalf of the accused against the offences charged against him/her. The prosecutor assists the court in the trial by examining the witnesses and the evidence available against the accused. Thereafter, the defense is given a chance to examine the witnesses and prove that the evidence presented in the court is not enough to punish the accused. If there is an alibi, then the defense provides proof. If the defendant pleads that the accused is insane then a medical board sits and assesses the mental health status of the accused.
Step 4: Adjudication
After the trial and prosecution, the role of the judge comes into play. Based on the trial that took place in the court and the eye-witnesses and evidence presented, the judge makes a decision based on the requisite laws of Pakistan.
Step 5: Implementation of Verdict
Once the trial is concluded and justice is served, the Accused either receives his punishment or is set free by the court. However, there are also ways to reduce or nullify the punishment. One of them is Deeyat (or Blood Money) where the victim or the inheritor (in case of the victim’s absence) can receive compensation against the crime caused and the accused is freed. In some cases, the court can rule out this possibility and still punish the criminal.
The sentence can be also reduced by the court if and only if the Criminal Justice System finds that the convict is displaying exemplary behaviour and conduct, or due to a severe medical condition.
Get Help – Hire a Criminal Law Expert
Being involved in a crime, whether as a victim or as an accused, is a traumatic and unsettling experience. Mistakes at the early stages of a crime can prove to be fatal when matters come to trial. Thus, it is best to get professional advice to guide and assist you through the whole process for several reasons. The lawyers at Sardar & Co. are well equipped and experienced to deal with all such matters. You should consult Sardar & Co. for several reasons:
- Sardar & Co. cares about you as it has one job that is to be your advocate at the trial. It is our job to protect your rights, to voice your best interest. assess the situation and form a plan to take the actions required to facilitate positive outcomes for you.
- You are hiring an expert and as such we can devote our energy and time solely to building a solid case on your behalf.
- Prompt action can lead to mitigation, the earlier you take action for your case the higher the likelihood of a successful case. Do not let delays or faulty police investigations ruin your case.
- You may be facing heavy penalties because of what is at stake in your case. You may think you are innocent but you need to take every action available to ensure that your innocence is proved and you do not suffer. You need someone who will protect you against such injustice.
- Long-term financial benefits, while this seems contradictory, hiring an experienced criminal lawyer can reduce the costs associated with criminal charges in the long run.