HOW DOES POLICE GATHER EVIDENCE TO THE POINT OF PROSECUTING OFFENDERS IN COURTS OF LAW?
It is rather alarming that murders carried out by gunmen on motorcycles, our very usual boda boda’s, have become common further claiming the lives of people dear to us. Be that as it may, there is hope that the police as mandated to ensure safety, maintain law and order and also facilitate prosecution of criminals will do its job.
So, when murders are carried out by criminals, what does the Police do?
On receipt of a complaint as to an attempted murder or actual murder having occurred, the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department at the nearest police station, immediately gives instructions to the available investigating officers and a Scene of Crime officer to immediately go to the crime scene, condoned it and make necessary investigation and arrests where necessary.
The two categories of officers that are meant to appear at the scene of crime;
The Scene of Crime Officer or officers.
The Investigating Officer.
The Scene of crime officer (SOCO) is mandated to seal or cordon off the crime scene, mark items found at the crime scene such as bullet shells, any dead bodies, skid marks or any vehicle or motorbike, any murder weapons, and draw a sketch map of the crime scene, take photographs of the crime scene, The same officer obtains and seals off any form of exhibits or materials to be used investigating and prosecuting crime ,lastly the SOCO prepares a detailed report concerning the examined crime scene.
The Investigating officer works (IO) works hand in hand with the (SOCO) in the carrying a full blown investigation that is to collect and store any exhibits, attain information from any available witnesses by recording witness statement, making arrests of any identified suspects, ensures medical examinations and post mortem examinations are carried out by certified doctors and reports made. The investigating officer compiles a police file that contains documents including witness statements, exhibit slips, a scene of crimes report and sketch as drawn, photographs, post mortem reports, forensic reports and charge sheet where any suspects are arrested and charged.
The police file is forwarded to a resident state attorney to make and guide prosecution of crimes for example by approving any charges as preferred against any suspects arrested and consequently have the suspects taken to court for prosecution of offences.
FORMAL STEPS OF A CRIMINAL TRIAL AND PROSECUTION;
- Charging and arrest of suspects,
- Where the offence is of a capital nature (this means the punishment for it is death) the suspects are presented before a Chief Magistrate for committal to the High court,
- The High Court receives the court file and an indictment of the accused,
- The High Court appoints assessors to be part of a trial of any accused people.
- Arraignment of the accused. The accused take plea as to the charges and indictment read out to them. (PLEAS: a plea of guilty, not guilty, previous conviction or acquittal and a plea of pardon).
- Where the accused plead not guilty the court sets the case for hearing where the prosecution is tasked to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offences.
- The prosecution introduces and examines its witnesses.
- The prosecution witnesses are cross examined by the Defence counsel and representatives of the accused.
- The court calls upon the accused or his advocate to make a submission on a no case to answer.
- The court makes a ruling as to whether the prosecution established any case against the accused, where it is found that there is no case to answer made the accused is acquitted. Where the court rules that there is a case to answer then the accused will be called to raise a defence upon which he or she is charged.
- The accused may call witnesses who are to be examined by the defence and cross examined by the prosecution.
- The seating Judge sums up all the details of the case to the assessors and await their opinion of what was presented and examined in the prosecution before court.
- The seating Judge is to listen to the opinion and findings of the assessors to guide the making of a judgment however he or she is not bound by their opinion.
- The judge is to pass judgment in regards the indictment, evidence, witness testimonies before court.
- Lastly, where the accused is found guilty the judge is to use his or her discretion to pass a sentence upon the accused.
Photo Source: Bukedde Online