UAE Criminal Procedure Law - An Overview

UAE Criminal Procedure Law - An Overview

Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 On the Issuance of the Criminal Procedure Law came into force on 1 March 2023. This law abrogated Federal Law No. 35/1992 Concerning the Criminal Procedural Law and Federal Law No. 5/2017 On the Use of Telecommunications in Criminal Proceedings, which addressed the use of remote communication technology in criminal procedures. Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 introduced a raft of new, significant amendments which highlights the UAE’s on-going commitment to modernising its legal framework.

Key changes

Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 ushered in several key changes, which are discussed in more detail below.

Authority of the public prosecution

Articles 115 to 117 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 gives the public prosecution the authority to take precautionary measures concerning suspected crime-related assets. These measures include tracing, locating, freezing, and appointing an asset custodian. This enhancement ensures that assets linked to criminal activities are effectively managed and prevented from further misuse. This section also provides that a person can also a file grievance against such measure before the criminal court, or the territorial competent court, and the court’s ruling in this regard will be final.

Plea bargains

Articles 360 to 382 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 introduced the concept of plea bargains in both misdemeanours and felonies, subject to specific requirements. The public prosecution is now empowered to offer plea bargains to defendants. A plea bargain involves a defendant admitting culpability in exchange for a reduced penalty. This mechanism will expedite trials and encourage defendants to take responsibility for their actions.

Travel bans pending investigation

Article 99 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 deals with implementing the issuing of a travel ban, during investigations, against the defendant without the need for any kind of bail, including the seizure of their passport.

Right to appeal extension of detention

Article 133 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 provides the defendant with the right to appeal the decision of extension of their detention.

Introduction of a Minor Felony Court

Article 140 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 introduces a New Minor Felony Court which consists of a single judge who has jurisdiction over felonies punishable by temporary imprisonment. It also provides provisions for confidentiality of the mediation as well as rejection or dismissal of the mediator.

Criminal settlement and penalties

Articles 368 to 375 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 introduces provisions for criminal settlement and the penalties that can be imposed in case of settlement. However, in the case of qisas, diya, and crimes against juveniles, these cannot be settled, and in the case of felonies, only the felonies punishable by temporary imprisonment and those that are indiscriminately related to a misdemeanour can be settled.

Use of remote communication technology

Articles 414 to 426 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 empowers the use of remote communication technology during judicial proceedings, crime investigation, and gathering evidence by both public prosecution and court. It also gives electronic signatures the same binding force as signatures. It also brought changes to time limitations and the level of fines that could be issued.


The introduction of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 is part of a wave of positive legislative reforms in the UAE which seek to align the country more with international standards and best practices. In addition, this law reflects the UAE’s willingness to continuously evolve its legal system in line with changing economic and social needs.


Dr. Mohamed Abdel Rhaman. Mahrous 


+971 50 6963065

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