Section 13 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that any charge or information must and shall be sufficient if it contains the statement of the specific offence which the accused together with such particulars as may be necessary for giving reason as to the nature of the offence charged. Consequently, it is a statutory requirement that a charge sheet must contain the following:
- Statement of offence- Section 137(2) requires that this shall describe the offence shortly in ordinary language.
- Particulars of the offence
- Numbering of counts- Where a charge contains more than count the counts shallbe numbered consequently.
- The name of the person in charge
Vorefu and Another vs R (1969)
The court emphasized that the particulars must disclose the offence and such statement is enough if it contains a precise statement of the incriminating factors as the prosecution seeks to prove be hearing.
If in the main charge there is not enough space adduced then there is an alternative charge in which further evidence can be adduced that another offence occurred.
The perfect example of this is the offence of theft and handling of stolen property in the doctrine of recent possession.
Alternative charges are comparative, therefore, the court cannot find one guilty of both the main and the alternative charge.
There is always a provision for amendment of charges in line with Section 214 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that “where at any stage of the trial before the close of the case of the prosecution it appears that the charge is defective, either in substance or form the count may make such order for the alternation charge either way by way of amendment of the charge or by substitution or addition of a new charge as the court may think necessary to meet the circumstance of the case.” Alternatively, the prosecution may make an application to amend the charge.
For substitution, it means a totally different charge. Where the charges are altered in the course of trial the court shall call upon the accused to plead to the altered charges. The accused has the right to demand for additional witness statements or evidence and also to exercise the right of recall.