- Is amended by Trial on Indictments (Amendment) Act, 2008
- Is amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020
Trial on Indictments Act
- Commenced on 6 August 1971
- [This is the version of this document from 14 February 2020.]
- [Note: The version of the Act as at 31 December 2000 was revised and consolidated by the Law Reform Commission of Uganda. All subsequent amendments have been researched and applied by Laws.Africa for ULII.]
- [Amended by Trial on Indictments (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 23 of 2008) on 5 December 2008]
- [Amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020 (Act 3 of 2020) on 14 February 2020]
Part I – Jurisdiction and mode of trial
1. Jurisdiction of the High CourtThe High Court shall have jurisdiction to try any offence under any written law and may pass any sentence authorised by law; except that no criminal case shall be brought under the cognisance of the High Court for trial unless the accused person has been committed for trial to the High Court in accordance with the Magistrates Courts Act.
2. Sentencing powers of the High Court
4. Place and date of sessions of the High Court
Part II – Warrant of arrest
5. Warrant of arrestThe High Court may issue a warrant of arrest at any time to secure the attendance of the accused person.
6. Form, contents and duration of warrant of arrest
7. Warrants, to whom directed
8. Execution of warrant directed to a police officerA warrant directed to any police officer may also be executed by any other police officer whose name is endorsed upon the warrant by the officer to whom it is directed or endorsed, and similarly a warrant directed to any chief may be executed by any other chief whose name is endorsed on the warrant by the chief to whom it was directed or endorsed.
9. Notification of substance of warrantThe police officer or other person executing a warrant of arrest shall notify the substance of the warrant to the person to be arrested and, if so required, shall show him or her the warrant.
10. Person arrested to be brought before the court without delayThe police officer or other person executing a warrant of arrest shall, without unnecessary delay, bring the person arrested before the High Court.
11. Where warrant of arrest may be executedA warrant of arrest may be executed at any place in Uganda.
12. Irregularities in warrant of arrestAny irregularity or defect in the substance or form of a warrant of arrest, and any variance between it and the indictment, or between either and the evidence produced on the part of the prosecution at any trial, shall not affect the validity of any proceedings at or subsequent to the hearing of the case.
13. Power of court to order prisoner to be brought before it
14. Release on bail
15. Refusal to grant bail
16. Restriction on period of pretrial remandIf an accused person has been remanded in custody before the commencement of his or her trial—
17. Power to order sufficient bail
18. Discharge of sureties
19. Death of suretyWhere a surety to a bond dies before the bond is forfeited, his or her estate shall be discharged from all liability in respect of the bond, but the party who gave the bond may be required to find a new surety.
20. Persons bound by recognisance absconding may be committedIf it is made to appear to the High Court, by information on oath, that any person bound by recognisance is about to leave Uganda, the court may cause him or her to be arrested and may commit him or her to prison until the trial, unless the court shall see fit to admit him or her to bail upon further recognisance.
21. Forfeiture of recognisance
Part III – Indictments
22. Contents of indictmentEvery indictment shall contain, and shall be sufficient if it contains, a statement of the specific offence or offences with which the accused person is charged, together with such particulars as may be necessary for giving reasonable information as to the nature of the offence charged.
23. Joinder of counts
24. Joinder of personsThe following persons may be joined in one indictment and may be tried together—
25. Rules for the framing of indictmentsThe following provisions shall apply to all indictments and, notwithstanding any rule of law or practice, an indictment shall, subject to this Act, not be open to objection in respect of its form or contents if it is framed in accordance with this Act—
26. Indictment to be in the name of the Director of Public ProsecutionsAll indictments shall be in the name of and, subject to section 135, signed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
27. Form of indictment
Part IV – Previous conviction or acquittal
28. Persons convicted or acquitted not to be tried again for the same offenceA person who has been once tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of that offence shall, while the conviction or acquittal has not been reversed or set aside, not be liable to be tried again on the same facts for the same offence.
29. Persons may be tried again for a separate offenceA person convicted or acquitted of any offence may afterwards be tried for any other offence with which he or she might have been charged on the former trial under section 23(1).
30. Consequences supervening or not known at time of former trialA person convicted or acquitted of any act causing consequences which together with that act constitute a different offence from that for which that person was convicted or acquitted may be afterwards tried for that last-mentioned offence, if the consequences had not happened or were not known to the court to have happened at the time when he or she was acquitted or convicted.
31. Where original court was not competent to try subsequent chargeA person convicted or acquitted of any offence constituted by any acts may, notwithstanding the conviction or acquittal, be subsequently charged with and tried for any other offence constituted by the same acts which he or she may have committed, if the court by which he or she was first tried was not competent to try the offence with which he or she is subsequently charged.
32. Previous conviction or acquittal, how proved
Part V – Witnesses and evidence
33. Summons for witness
34. Warrant for witness who disobeys summonsIf, without sufficient excuse, a witness does not appear in obedience to the summons, the High Court, on proof of the proper service of the summons a reasonable time before, may issue a warrant to bring him or her before the court at such time and place as shall be specified in the warrant.
35. Warrant for witness in first instanceIf the High Court is satisfied by evidence on oath that the person will not attend unless compelled to do so, it may at once issue a warrant for the arrest and production of the witness before the court at a time and place to be specified in the warrant.
36. Mode of dealing with witness arrested under warrantWhen any witness is arrested under a warrant, the High Court may, on his or her furnishing security by recognisance to the satisfaction of the court for his or her appearance at the hearing of the case, order him or her to be released from custody, or shall on his or her failing to furnish the security, order him or her to be detained for production at the hearing.
37. Power of court to order prisoner to be brought up for examination
38. Penalty for nonattendance of witness
39. Power to summon material witness or examine person present
40. Evidence to be given on oath
41. Refractory witness
42. Reports by Government analyst, ballistic expert and geologist
43. Competency of accused as witnessEvery person indicted for an offence shall be a competent witness for the defence at every stage of the proceedings, whether the person so charged is charged solely or jointly with any other person; but—
44. Procedure when person charged is the only witness calledWhere the only witness to the facts of the case called by the defence is the person charged, he or she shall be called as a witness immediately after the close of the evidence for the prosecution.
Part VI – Procedure in case of the insanity or other incapacity of an accused person
45. Inquiry by the court as to the insanity of the accused
46. Procedure when the accused is certified as capable of making his or her defence
47. Resumption of trial
48. Special finding of not guilty by reason of insanity
49. Procedure when the accused does not understand the proceedings
Part VII – Proceedings at the trial
50. Orders for alteration of indictment
51. Procedure when indictment altered
52. Separate trials
53. Power to postpone or adjourn proceedings
54. Trial of accused in his or her absence
55. Right of accused to be defendedAny person accused of an offence before the High Court may of right be defended by an advocate, at his or her own expense.
56. Interpretation of evidence to accused or his or her advocate
57. Interpretation of documentsWhen documents are put in for the purpose of formal proof, it shall be in the discretion of the court to interpret as much of them as appears necessary.
58. Quashing of indictment
59. Procedure in case of previous convictionsWhere an indictment contains a count charging an accused person with having been previously convicted for any offence, the procedure shall be as follows—
60. Pleading to indictmentThe accused person to be tried before the High Court shall be placed at the bar unfettered, unless the court shall cause otherwise to order, and the indictment shall be read over to him or her by the chief registrar or other officer of the court, and explained if need be by that officer or interpreted by the interpreter of the court; and the accused person shall be required to plead instantly to the indictment, unless, where the accused person is entitled to service of a copy of the indictment, he or she shall object to the want of such service, and the court shall find that he or she has not been duly served with a copy.
61. Plea of autrefois acquit and autrefois convict
62. Refusal to pleadIf any accused person being arraigned upon any indictment stands mute of malice, or neither will, nor by reason of infirmity can, answer directly to the indictment, the court if it thinks fit, shall enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused person, and the plea so entered shall have the same force and effect as if the accused person had actually pleaded not guilty; or else the court may if it has reason to believe that the accused person is of unsound mind or cannot be made to understand the nature of the proceedings act in accordance with either section 45 or 49 as the circumstances may require.
63. Plea of guiltyIf the accused pleads guilty, the plea shall be recorded and he or she may be convicted on it.
64. Plea of guilty to offence other than that chargedWhere the accused is arraigned on an indictment for any offence and can lawfully be convicted on that indictment of some other offence not charged in the indictment, he or she may plead not guilty to the offence charged in the indictment, but guilty of that other offence; but the court shall not accept a plea of guilty under this section unless the advocate for the prosecution has signified his or her consent.
65. Proceedings after a plea of not guiltyIf the accused person pleads not guilty, or a plea of not guilty is entered in accordance with section 62, the court shall (subject to the provisions of section 66) proceed to choose assessors and to try the case.
66. Preliminary hearing
67. Oath of assessorAt the commencement of the trial and, where the provisions of section 66 are applicable, after the preliminary hearing has been concluded, each assessor shall take an oath impartially to advise the court to the best of his or her knowledge, skill and ability on the issues pending before the court.
68. Challenge for cause
69. Absence of assessor
70. Assessors to attend adjourned sittingsIf a trial is adjourned, the assessors shall be required to attend at the adjourned sitting and any subsequent sitting until the conclusion of the trial.
71. Opening of case for the prosecutionWhen the assessors have been chosen, the advocate for the prosecution shall open the case against the accused person and shall call witnesses and adduce evidence in support of the indictment.
72. Cross-examination of witnesses for the prosecutionThe witnesses called for the prosecution shall be subject to cross-examination by the accused person or his or her advocate and to reexamination by the advocate for the prosecution.
73. Close of case for the prosecution
75. Witnesses for the defenceThe accused person shall be allowed to examine any witness if the witness is in attendance, but he or she shall not be entitled as of right to have any witness summoned other than the witnesses whom he or she named to the magistrates’s court committing him or her for trial as witnesses whom he or she desired to be summoned.
76. Evidence in replyIf the accused person adduces evidence in his or her defence introducing new matter which the prosecution could not by the exercise of reasonable diligence have foreseen, the court may allow the prosecution to adduce evidence in reply to contradict that matter.
77. Prosecutor’s replySubject to section 78, if the accused person, or any one of several accused persons, adduces any evidence, the advocate for the prosecution shall be entitled to reply.
78. Right of replyIn cases where the right of reply depends upon the question whether evidence has been called for the defence, the fact that the person charged has been called as a witness shall not of itself confer on the prosecution the right of reply.
79. Additional material factsNo additional material fact which does not form part of the summary of the case against an accused person shall be alleged by the prosecution unless the prosecution has given reasonable notice in writing to the accused person or his or her advocate of the intention to allege that fact, but no such notice need be given if the prosecution first becomes aware of it on the day on which it is alleged in evidence during the trial.
80. Additional powers of the court
81. Assessors and confessions
82. Verdict and sentence
83. Drawing up conviction or orderThe conviction or order may, if required, be afterwards drawn up and shall be signed by the court making the conviction or order, or by the clerk or other officer of the court.
84. Order of acquittal bar to further proceedingsThe production of a copy of the order of acquittal, certified by the clerk or other officer of the court, shall without other proof be a bar to any subsequent proceedings for the same matter against the same accused person.
85. Mode of delivering judgment
86. Contents of judgment
87. Person charged may be convicted of minor offenceWhen a person is charged with an offence and facts are proved which reduce it to a minor cognate offence, he or she may be convicted of the minor offence although he or she was not charged with it.
88. Conviction for attemptWhen a person is charged with an offence, he or she may be convicted of having attempted to commit that offence, although he or she was not charged with the attempt.
89. Conviction for being an accessory after the factWhen a person is charged with an offence, he or she may be convicted of being an accessory after the fact to the commission of that offence although he or she was not so charged.
90. Convictions in respect of charges relating to death of a child
91. Certain sections of Magistrates Courts Act to applyWhen a person is indicted for any of the offences mentioned in sections 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154 or 155 of the Magistrates Courts Act, those sections of that Act shall be construed as if references to a “court” included references to the High Court.
92. Construction of sections 87 to 91The provisions of sections 87 to 91 shall be construed as in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other written law and the other provisions of this Act, and the provisions of sections 88 to 91 shall be construed as being without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of section 87.
93. Person charged with misdemeanour not to be acquitted if felony provedIf on any trial before the High Court for misdemeanour the facts proved in evidence amount to felony, the accused shall not be therefore acquitted of the misdemeanour; and no person tried for the misdemeanour shall be liable afterwards to be prosecuted for felony on the same facts, unless the court before which the trial may be had shall think fit, in its discretion, to refrain from recording a finding upon that trial, and to direct that person to be prosecuted for felony, in which case that person may be dealt with in all respects as if he or she had not been put upon his or her trial for the misdemeanour.
94. Calling upon the accusedIf the accused person is found guilty or pleads guilty, the judge shall ask him or her whether he or she has anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him or her according to law, but the omission so to ask him or her shall have no effect on the validity of the proceedings.
95. Motion in arrest of judgment
96. SentenceIf no motion in arrest of judgment is made, or if the court decides against the accused person upon the motion, the court may pass sentence upon the accused person or make an order against him or her at any time during the session.
97. Objections cured by verdictNo judgment shall be stayed or reversed on the ground of any objection, which if stated after the indictment was read over to the accused person, or during the progress of the trial, might have been amended by the court, nor for any informality in swearing the witnesses or any of them.
98. Inquiry may be made prior to passing sentenceThe court, before passing any sentence other than a sentence of death, may make such inquiries as it thinks fit in order to inform itself as to the proper sentence to be passed, and may inquire into the character and antecedents of the accused person either at the request of the prosecution or the accused person and may take into consideration in assessing the proper sentence to be passed such character and antecedents including any other offences committed by the accused person whether or not he or she has been convicted of those offences; except that—
Part VIII – Sentences and their execution
99. Sentence of death
100. Accused to be informed of right to appealWhen an accused person is sentenced to death, the court shall inform him or her of the period within which, if he or she wishes to appeal, his or her appeal should be preferred.
101. Authority for detentionA certificate, under the hand of the judge by whom any person has been sentenced, that sentence of death has been passed and naming the person condemned, shall be sufficient authority for the detention of that person.
102. Record and report to be sent to Minister
103. Sentence of death on pregnant womanWhere a woman convicted of an offence punishable with death is found in accordance with section 104 to be pregnant, the sentence to be passed on her shall be a sentence of imprisonment for life instead of a sentence of death.
104. Evidence of pregnancy
105. Sentence of death on person under eighteen years
106. Warrant in case of sentence of imprisonment
107. Prisons in which sentences of imprisonment may be served
108. Mitigation of penalties
109. ***[section 109 repealed by section 3 of Act 23 of 2008]
110. FinesWhere a fine is imposed by the High Court under the provisions of any law, in fixing the amount of the fine, the court shall take into consideration, among other things, the means of the offender so far as they are known to the court, and in the absence of express provisions relating to the fine in any such law, the following provisions shall apply—
|Not exceeding shs. 20||7 days|
|Exceeding shs. 20 but not exceeding shs. 100||1 month|
|Exceeding shs. 100 but not exceeding shs. 400||6 weeks|
|Exceeding shs. 400 but not exceeding shs. 1,000||3 months|
|Exceeding shs. 1,000||12 months|
111. Power to allow time to pay fine
112. Warrant for levy of fine, etc.
113. CommitmentIf the officer having the execution of a warrant of distress reports that he or she could find no property or not sufficient property on which to levy the money mentioned in the warrant with expenses, the court may issue such process as may be necessary for the appearance of the person against whom the order for payment was made and sentence him or her to imprisonment according to section 110(d).
114. Payment in full after commitmentAny person committed for nonpayment may pay the sum mentioned in the warrant, with the amount of expenses authorised in the warrant, if any, to the person in whose custody he or she is, and that person shall thereupon discharge him or her if he or she is in custody for no other matter.
115. Part payment after commitment
116. Sentence of imprisonment in lieu of distressWhen it appears to the court that distress and sale of property would be ruinous to the person ordered to pay the money or his or her family or, by his or her confession or otherwise, that he has no property on which the distress may be levied or for other sufficient reason, the court may if it thinks fit, instead of or after issuing a warrant of distress, issue such process as may be necessary for his or her appearance and sentence him or her to imprisonment according to section 110(d).
117. Objections to attachment
118. Who may issue a warrantEvery warrant for the execution of any sentence may be issued either by the judge who passed the sentence or by his or her successor in office.
119. Discharge of an offender without punishment
120. Security for coming up for judgment
121. Sentences fixed by lawSections 108, 119 and 120 shall have no effect in cases where the accused person has been convicted of an offence for which the penalty is fixed by law.
122. Sentences cumulative unless otherwise ordered
123. Escaped convicts to serve unexpired sentences when recapturedWhen sentence is passed under this Act on an escaped convict, the sentence, if of fine or corporal punishment, shall, subject to the provision of this Act and any other law for the time being in force, take effect immediately, but if of imprisonment shall not take effect until the convict has served a period of imprisonment that remained unexpired at the date of his or her escape from prison.
124. Police supervision
Part IX – Costs, compensation and restitution
125. Award of costs
127. Recovery of costs and compensation, and imprisonment in default
128. Power of court to award expenses or compensation out of fine
129. Property found on accused personWhere, upon the apprehension of a person charged with an offence, any property is taken from him or her, the High Court may order—
130. Property stolen
131. Order for disposal of property regarding which offence committed
Part X – Appeals from the High Court
132. Appeals to the Court of Appeal from the High Court
133. Appeal against special finding
Part XI – Control by Director of Public Prosecutions
134. Power to enter nolle prosequi
135. Exercise of the powers of the Director of Public ProsecutionsThe Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, a state attorney or a state prosecutor may exercise any of the powers vested in the Director of Public Prosecutions by this Act except the power to enter a nolle prosequi.
136. Conduct of prosecutions
Part XII – Miscellaneous
137. Court to be open
138. Obtaining copies or originals of documents in custody of bank
139. Reversability or alteration of finding, sentence or order by reason of error, etc.
140. Distress not illegal nor distrainer a trespasser for defect or want of form in proceedingsNo distress made under this Act shall be deemed unlawful, nor shall any person making the distress be deemed a trespasser, on account of any defect or want of form in the summons, conviction, warrant of distress or other proceedings relating thereto.
141. Practice of High Court in its criminal jurisdictionWhen no express provision is made in this Act, the practice of the High Court in its criminal jurisdiction shall be assimilated as nearly as circumstances will admit to the practice of the High Court of Justice in its criminal jurisdiction and of Courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Goal Delivery in England.
142. Copies of proceedingsIf any person affected by any judgment or order passed in any proceedings under this Act desires to have a copy of the judgment or order or any part of the record, he or she shall, on applying for the copy be furnished with it if he or she pays for it, unless the court for some special reason thinks fit to furnish it free of cost.
143. Record of evidenceThe Chief Justice may, by statutory instrument, make rules prescribing the manner in which evidence shall be taken down in cases coming before the High Court, and the evidence (or the substance of it) shall be taken down in accordance with those rules.
History of this document
14 February 2020 this version
Amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020
05 December 2008
06 August 1971