Criminal Law

What crimes can I report?

You can report any crime that you witness or are a victim of, to the police. Alternatively, your family or your lawyer can report such crimes on your behalf.

How can I report a crime?

You can report crimes to the police, either orally or in writing. The report must include:

  • your personal details
  • the offence
  • information or description of the offender
  • description of the incident
  • list of witnesses

Once the incident/crime has been reported, you should get a reference number to track the progress of the case.

Will the case go to court? If so, what is the procedure?

The case may or may not go to court depending on the related facts. If there is enough evidence, the police will bring the case to court and you may be called in to testify as a victim or witness of the crime.

Following a report to the police, if there is enough evidence to back up the report, a magisterial inquiry is initiated to investigate who is criminally responsible for the crime. Although the police and the inquiring magistrate work together, they conduct their own separate investigations.

Once the magisterial inquiry is appointed, the next legal procedure is the compilation of evidence. The magisterial inquiry does not necessarily need to be concluded before the compilation of evidence begins. Compilation of evidence is the process through which the police or the Attorney General lawyer present all their evidence before the magistrate.

Depending on the seriousness of the crime and the punishment it may carry, the case will either go to the Court of Magistrates (for less severe crimes) or to the Criminal Court for a trial by jury. There is no jury involved in proceedings in the Court of Magistrates, i.e. for less severe crimes.

A jury is made of nine individuals who will be responsible for voting on whether the individual being tried is guilty or innocent. If the accused is found guilty, the judge decides the penalty and sentences the accused.

If the person who has been sentenced does not agree with the guilty verdict or the penalty, they may appeal the decision in the Court of Criminal Appeal. If the person is being tried before the Court of Magistrates, they may submit an appeal within eight working days of the Magistrate’s decision. If they are being tried in the Criminal Court, they can submit an appeal within 15 working days from the date of the sentence.

Next page: Victims’ Guidebook Part 4 – Inquiries