Samson's Take: Safety 101 - Punishing crime not yet committed

Samson Anyennini Fd Samson Anyenini is a Private legal practitioner

Sat, 2 Mar 2019 Source: Samson Lardy Anyenini

The full title of my take today is; stop encouraging wrong and crime: crime is punished even if not yet committed.

It is a very disturbing conduct that does not bode well for this country and those involved in ignorant and deliberate twisting of law for dangerous parochial partisan political convenience must lose our respect.

Ghanaian law punishes criminal acts not yet committed. These, as ought generally to be known by a lawyer and as affirmed by the trainer of judges Justice Dennis Adjei in his book; Contemporary Criminal Law in Ghana, include crimes of preparation to commit certain offences, abetting crime and conspiring to commit crime.

These are known as inchoate offences. This word here simply translates to an incomplete offence of a substantive offence. So, if you make the attempt, prepare or supply instruments or materials for the commission of certain offences or you instigate, command, counsel, procure, solicit, aid, facilitate, encourage or promote the commission of a criminal offence, you will be punished as though you have actually committed the offence.

So, if you conspired etc to steal, you can look to serving up to twenty-five years in jail. If you conspired to commit the offence of kidnapping or abduction, you set yourself up for up to ten or three years in jail even if you may not have actually kidnapped or abducted someone or a child.

Obviously, the fundamental principle in criminal law requiring prosecution to prove intent to commit a crime (mens rea) plus evidence of the actual act or outcome of the crime (actus rea) may not apply in proving certain inchoate crimes. Sir Dennis Adjei, a foremost authority writes that "[a]part from inchoate offences, offences involving omission to act and offences which are crimes of negligence, no valid conviction can be made without actus rea."

I can imagine the measure of safety and sanity a society will enjoy if its security and law enforcement was efficient and effective at and kept a major focus on proactively aborting intended crimes and punishing same.

It certainly is the ideal, where possible, and must be preferred to the regular normal reactive approach of seeking to punish crime after it has been consummated. Crimes like arson, murder and terrorism may never be adequately compensated for or at all if not foiled at the planning preparatory stages and punished.

The gullible may be consuming your wrong deceptive education at their own peril, but let's think God and Country first and stop encouraging especially the illiterate population that it is okay to plan wrong and crime because it will not be punished unless it is consummated and the actors caught.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

May 2, 2019

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini