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(This column is intended to address commonly asked questions about the criminal justice process for defendants. We intend to explain the roles of the various persons at each stage in this process beginning with the arrest and questioning stage and concluding with further information and resources. We will also address how long you can be held in custody and other rights and responsibilities you should be aware of. This column in no way replaces your need to personally consult your attorney-at-law or your own readings on the existing law ( Prepared by Sparman and Small attorneys-at-law)
What does remand mean?
Remand in this context means that the defendant is to remain in custody while awaiting his/her trial. A shorter definition for remand is pre-trial detention. This sharply contrasts with pre-trial release/bail. As such, when a defendant is remanded he/she is being denied his/her constitutional entitlement to bail. From our readings of various regional constitutions it would seem that there is a constitutional presumption in favour of the defendant’s pre-trial release. As such, remand is the exception to the said presumption.
Common instances where a defendant is remanded
There should be substantial grounds for a defendant’s application for pre-trial release to be denied and for him/her to be remanded instead, as discussed earlier when we addressed the topic of bail. It is commonly seen that defendants who are on trial for the offence of murder are remanded because the offence is considered one of the most serious criminal offences. Further, if the defendant is likely to abscond or fail to comply with imposed bail conditions he/she is likely to be remanded. In addition, is likely to be remanded if the defendant continues to be a threat to the victim, or is likely to commit offences if released.
Implications of remand post-trial
The decision to cause the defendant to remain in custody while awaiting his/her trial may be assessed on a case by case basis. The longer the defendant remains in custody, the longer his detention conflicts with his constitutional entitlements. The implications of this fact is seriously seen when a defendant is acquitted (found ‘not guilty’) and he/she was remanded especially for a long period of time. However, if the defendant is convicted, the period spent on remand is usually considered by the judicial officer during sentencing. In some cases, it was seen that the time spent during remand was discounted from the time the defendant was eventually sentenced to serve. Nevertheless, if the defendant is acquitted after a period of remand he/she should seek civil restitution/reparations in the form of compensation, for violations of the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (“ICCPR”), which should be brought in a similar vein to the claim of false imprisonment. The ICCPR was ratified in Guyana on the 15th February, 1977, according to the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies database.