Let’s first define what a crime is; generally a crime is an illegal act or offense that is punishable by law. The offence or crime that has been carried out is under common law or under any Act of Parliament and this also includes an attempt to commit the crime of the offence. The crime that one has committed must also have a defined punishment and anyone who has been found guilty of a crime is a criminal.
So how is a criminal procedure different from that of a civil procedure? Examples of criminal cases include robbery, drug trafficking and murdering. During criminal cases the legal action is taken either by the state, the local or federal government against the person or the organization that has committed the violation.
Those that have been found guilty of the crime can be either put on probation, serve time in a prison, be ordered to pay a specific amount of fine, if the crime is a serious offence it may even involve the capital punishment such as a death penalty. These punishments also serve as a warning to others so that they do not repeat the crime in the future.
This of course is different from a civil law case and examples of such cases include debt collection, medical malpractice and damages for personal injuries. The awards for such cases are usually in the form of money where one party has been ordered to pay to the other. So this basically means a civil suit involves legal action between two private parties that are usually seeking monetary compensation or damages by the plaintiff who has suffered a loss by the wrongful doings or the tortuous conduct of the defendant. The judgment that has been passed is to make the aggrieved person compensated properly by the harm that has been caused by the other, also in the civil case a criminal sentence cannot be imposed at the same time.
The jurisdiction and the powers of the criminal courts include crimes or offences that are punishable by a fine that does not exceed the amount of RM10, 000. The court cases will be heard by the Magistrate Court that can be found in most of the major towns in Malaysia. Traffic offences will also fall under the authority of the criminal court. While an act in this situation refers to any form of act, attempt or omission that is punishable by Malaysian law.
The Magistrate Court has the power to hear criminal cases where the act that has been conducted provides for a term of imprisonment that does not exceed that of 10 (ten) years. While they can hear the case, the Magistrate court will not be able to pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term that exceeds that of 5 (five) years. Other powers that have been granted to the Magistrate Court includes include that of Section 87 of the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 that provides the First Class Magistrate the power to impose whipping to up to a maximum of 12 strokes.
Compared to the Magistrate court the Sessions court has a wider jurisdiction, this means that the Sessions court has the power to try any criminal cases. However the only limitation of this particular court is that they do not have the power to try or pronounce sentence of cases of any person that has been accused or has been suspected of having committed any form of offense that is punishable by death. The limitation is imposed on the Session judge under Section 64.
The High Court has the power to try any form of criminal matters or offence anywhere in Malaysia; however they will usually try cases that are not within the jurisdiction of the Sessions and Magistrates Court. This will also includes criminal acts that carry the death penalty. As mentioned before any type of act that is considered to be criminal by the definition of law can be tried at the High court but they will usually only try cases that involve the capital punishment or the death penalty if they are found guilty and such cases include Drug trafficking under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act, kidnapping or abduction under Section 364 of the Penal Code, murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code and offenses that fall under the Firearms (increased penalty) Act.
The High Court has been granted power to heat appeals on matters regarding criminal cases and they may exercise these powers with respect to criminal proceedings and matters in the subordinate courts. According to Section 27, the High Court shall hear the appeals of criminal cases from the Sessions and Magistrate Courts.
The Court of Appeal has the appellate power in respect to the criminal offence where the outcome has been decided by the Sessions Court and they may also hear and determine any appeal against the decisions that have been made by the High Court. While the appeals for the decisions that have been made by the Magistrate Court of any criminal cases shall only be confined to the questions of law which have arisen in the process of the appeal or revision and the determination in which the High Court has affected the even of the revision or the appeal.
The appeal has to be made within 14 days after the date of the decision that has been made in the High Court, which the case will fall unto the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal. Finally there is the Federal Court which is usually the last resort usually in criminal cases the Federal Court will exercise its appellate jurisdiction to hear as well as determine any appeal from any decision that has been made by the Court of Appeal.