This Handbook is intended to give guidance to judges when they deal with criminal cases. It is particularly aimed at newly appointed judges, but it also contains reference material that will be useful for more experienced judicial officers. It covers selective aspects of criminal procedure, evidence, substantive law and sentencing.

The following abbreviations are used throughout this work:

CPEA       —       Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07]

CL Code   —      Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23]

MCA         —       Magistrates Court Act [Chapter 7:10]

HCA         —       High Court Act [Chapter 7:06]

SCA         —       Supreme Court Act [Chapter 7:13]


The accused person will be referred to throughout as “X” except that where, in the context concerned, the abbreviation “X” may cause confusion.

Before the establishment of the office of the Prosecutor-General the Attorney-General used to perform the functions now being performed by the Prosecutor-General. Thus in case law decided prior to the establishment of the office of the Prosecutor-General, the reference to “Attorney-General” in respect of prosecution matters should now be understood as a reference to the “Prosecutor-General.”

Although this Handbook is for judges, many of the cases cited are decisions of the higher courts in review and appeal cases from the magistrates courts. Many of these rulings are also relevant in criminal cases that commence in the High Court. Additionally as the High Court reviews magistrates court decisions and hears appeals from the magistrates courts, these decisions provide useful guidance in relation to such cases.