Formal guidelines issued on jail time

| 02/11/2015 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie

(CNS): The chief justice has published a new set of formal sentencing guidelines to help Cayman Islands judges balance all of the factors involved in sentencing those convicted of serious and common crimes. Based on the work of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee, chaired by Justice Charles Quin, the guidelines do not dictate to judges how many years an offender should receive for a given conviction but help them decide the most appropriate jail term given all of the circumstances.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said the General Guidelines underscore the discretion that judges and magistrates must exercise in balancing “competing interests and objectives, tailoring the punishment to the individual circumstances of the offender whilst ensuring that the punishment is commensurate with the seriousness of the offence”.

From the individual circumstances of offenders and the seriousness of offences to  the victim’s rights and the protection of the society, the local bench must consider many issues in any given case and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to crime and punishment.

The new formalised guidelines set out the general principles, along with a specific sets of guidelines for robbery and burglary, which are now common and both very serious offences likely to attract long custodial sentences, the chief justice said.  Other guidelines will be issued shortly to cover all the commonly occurring offences heard in Grand Court or Summary Court.

According to an official release, the sentencing exercise must deal with preventing offenders from further crime, deterrence, punishment, rehabilitation and restitution. The seriousness of offences and the resulting harm will continue to be a significant influences as well as proportionality, the top judge explained.

The guidelines also formalise some practices that have already been adopted by the courts, such as the provision for taking into consideration less serious offences admitted by the offender without formal conviction. As recommended in the recent Wetton report on the justice system, offenders can also receive credit for genuine contrition as well as for reducing or eliminating what may otherwise have required intensive police, prosecutorial and court involvement and proceedings.

The guidelines also provide for credit to be given for time on remand while on bail in cases where an offender had been subject to “significant restrictions on liberty”, such as a strict curfew or electronic tag.

See full details of the new guidelines

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This reform process is encouraging but it hinges solely on the premise that most cases will reach sentencing. This reform can only apply to those cases which do. The truth is that most cases do not even reach judgement (let alone sentencing) and are thrown out, lost or not even pursued because of poor RCIPS and DPP performance.

    Then there is disparity or perceived disparity in decisions to prosecute or not, depending on who the defendant is. For example. Canadian accused of stealing $10,000 was not extradited nor charged; UK national accused of stealing over $300,000 was not extradited not charged. Caymanian accused of stealing $640 was sentenced to prison.

    The CJ has no jurisdiction over the DPP but serious reform is needed in that Department!! Hopefully Ms. Wetton’s report will be implemented (you think!!??)

  2. Anonymous says:

    The LA needs to legislate minimum non-suspendable sentences for some of these crimes. The judges’ discretion should not be unlimited.

  3. Anonymous says:

    10 years extra for each Lodge member!! Oh, in my excitement I forgot that no lodge member gets to court…

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