Trial Procedure: Pleas

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  • Topic: Plea, Double jeopardy, Prima facie
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  • Published : February 15, 2013
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TRIAL PROCEDURE

PLEAS

This is an answer to a charge. The various types of pleas include; 1.Plea of guilty
2.Plea of not guilty
3.Plea of utrafois acquit or convict
4.Plea of pardon
5.Plea of bargain
6.Plea of jurisdiction (court has no powers to try one)
7.Ambiguous plea (where the accused remains silent)

PLEA OF GUILTY

This is covered under sec 124(1) MCA. It provides that after the substance of the charge has been explained to the accused by court, he shall be asked whether he admits or denies the charge. There will be no more issues for trial because the issue of whether he is guilty or not will be settled by his admission. Under sec 124(1), if the accused admits the truth of the charge, his admission should be recorded as nearly as possible in the words used by him after having fully explained the details of the charge, the court shall then convict him unless there is any reason to the contrary. On recording, see Adan v R (1973) EA 445.

PLEA OF NOT GUILTY

This is provided for under sec 126 MCA. If a person does not admit the truth of the charge, then court shall record a plea of not guilty and shall proceed to hear the case. Sec 126 MCA provides for the procedure.

PLEA OF ULTRA FOIS CONVICT OR ACQUIT

Sections 89,124 (5) MCA and sections 28, 31 TIA and Article 28(9) of the Constitution provide that a person who has once been tried of an offence and convicted or acquitted of it by a court of competent jurisdiction shall not be tried again of the same offence, on the same facts where such conviction or acquittal has not been reversed or set a side (double jeopardy). This is a special plea and can only succeed where the accused was first in jeopardy. R v Danji (1948) 15 EACA, Connije v DPP

PLEA OF PARDON

Under the Constitution, the President can exercise his prerogative power and grant pardon. This is under sec 122 (5)(b) MCA and s. 61 (1)(b) of the TIA, the accused can plead in answer to a charge that he has obtained a pardon to his offence. Once this plea has been raised, it up to court to investigate whether it was given or not.

PLEA OF BARGAIN

This is an arrangement by which the defendant to criminal proceedings may agree to plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange of the prosecution extending some advantage to him eg dropping another charge or if the defendant pleads guilty to a less serious charge. This plea must be under scrutiny by the court and it should endeavour not to indicate what sentence it has in mind in order not to induce the defendant to change his plea. See R v Turner (1970) 2 QBD 321

PLEA OF JURISDICTION

Here the accused pleads that the court has no jurisdiction to try the offence. See sec 161 MCA.

AMBIGUOUS PLEAS

In some cases, an accused may give an ambiguous answer eg crying or ‘I killed this man but I did not mean to kill him.’ Before the magistrate enters plea of guilty or not guilty he must explain the ambiguity to the accused.

REFUSAL TO ENTER PLEA

This is covered under sec 124(4) MCA and 68 TIA. If the accused refuses to plead, court shall enter a plea of not guilty for him for instance where the accused keeps quite.

UNFITNESS TO PLEAD

The accused may be unfit due to insanity or any other incapacity. In such cases, sec 45 – 49 TI A or sec 113 – 118 MCA will apply.

CHANGE OF PLEA

There is nothing in law that prevents a person to change his plea at any stage in the trial. The defendant may change plea from not guilty to guilty. This has to be before sentence is passed. In case of change of plea, the charge is put before the accused, so that he pleads again. See Adan v R (1973) EA 445, R v Guest (1964) 3 ALLER 385, Yusuf v Mawumba (1966) EA 383

TRIAL PROCEDURE IN THE MAGISTRATES’ COURT

See sections 119 – 160 of the MCA

When the accused is informed or arraigned of the charge against him, he is asked to plead. Section 124 MCA, if the accused pleads guilty, the prosecutor will outline the facts...
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