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Jordan Procedures in Criminal Law
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    When the police believed that a person had committed a crime or when someone was caught committing a criminal act, the suspect was taken to the nearest police station for registration and interrogation. Usually a warrant was required for an arrest; however, in cases where delay would be harmful or when a person was apprehended in a criminal offense, the accused could be detained without a warrant of arrest for as long as forty-eight hours. After forty-eight hours, a court order was required to continue detention of the suspect.

    A warrant of arrest could be issued by a magistrate only if there was a presumption that the person had committed the offense for which he or she was charged and if there was reason to believe that the accused intended to escape, destroy traces of the crime, or induce witnesses to make false statements. A warrant also could be issued for offenses against national security or other grave acts specified in the criminal code.

    The police magistrate first informed the accused of the charges and questioned the accused and any available witnesses to determine if there was a prima facie case against the detained person, who had the right to counsel at this preliminary investigation. If the magistrate found evidence of guilt, the case was transmitted to the local prosecutor for further investigation. A prosecutor was attached to every magistrate's court and court of first instance (see The Judiciary , ch. 4). The magistrate then could either issue an arrest warrant to bind over the suspect for trial or release the suspect on bail. Release on bail was a matter of right when the maximum penalty prescribed for the offense was imprisonment not exceeding one year and where the accused had an established residence within the country and had not previously been convicted of a felony or sentenced to more than three months in jail.

    The right of habeas corpus was provided for under the Constitution, but in practice it had not afforded the same protection as in English common law. The police usually managed to establish the need to detain suspects charged with serious offenses. Persons could be detained pending investigation for fifteen days or longer if the court approved a request by the public prosecutor for an extension. The power of detention had been used effectively by the police to forestall disorder. For example, police occasionally dispersed crowds before a disturbance merely by threatening to arrest those who disobeyed an order to leave the scene.

    On deciding that legal action against the accused was necessary, the public prosecutor instituted a trial by issuing an indictment to the appropriate court. The fourteen magistrates' courts handled only those criminal offenses for which the maximum fine was not more than JD100 or the maximum prison sentence was not more than one year. The seven courts of first instance tried cases involving misdemeanors before two judges and major felonies before three judges. Trials were open to the public except in certain cases, such as those involving sexual offenses. The defendant had the right to legal counsel, but defendants often were unaware of this right and failed to exercise it. The court appointed a lawyer for those who could not afford one if the potential sentence was execution or life imprisonment. Defendants had the right of cross-examination and were protected against self-incrimination. There was no jury system in Jordan. The judge, therefore, decided questions of fact, based entirely on the weight of the evidence, as well as questions of the interpretation and application of the criminal law.

    Trials began with opening statements by the prosecutor and the defense counsel, followed by an interrogation of the defendant by the presiding judge. After examination of witnesses for the state and for the accused and the submission of documentary evidence, closing arguments by the prosecutor and defense counsel completed the presentation. Decisions were announced in open court and, if the defendant were found guilty, sentence would be pronounced. Either the public prosecutor or the defendant could appeal the decision to the court of appeal and, ultimately, to the Court of Cassation.

    Data as of December 1989

    NOTE: The information regarding Jordan on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Jordan Procedures in Criminal Law information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Jordan Procedures in Criminal Law should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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