Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
(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)
A conviction occurs when a defendant has been found guilty of the criminal offence he/she was charged for by a competent tribunal. However, the defendant’s conviction may not mean that the defendant is in actuality guilty for the said criminal offence; in such, an instance the defendant should appeal his/her conviction.
Nevertheless, a conviction stands as a testament that the prosecution was successful in proving that the defendant’s guilt for the offence was certain or proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the defendant is established as culpable/justly charged in the eyes of the law. To arrive at this stage the defendant should have already been required to plead and the Magistrate/Judge should be in a position to adjudicate. Then, the defendant’s conviction would be on the merits and he/she will have the right to utilise the plea of autrefois convict if he/she is subsequently charged for the same offence. Please refer to our column two Sundays ago on the topic of Acquittal (and Pleas of Autrefois) to refresh yourselves on the plea of autrefois convict.
Plea in Mitigation
To commence, after a defendant makes a guilty plea or is convicted by a competent tribunal, allowance is made for a Plea in Mitigation to be made on his/her behalf or by himself/herself. The purpose of this plea is to allow the defendant to introduce personal circumstances or circumstances surrounding the offence that the court may consider worthy of lessening or supporting the most lenient sentence.
The following are some mitigating personal circumstances:
- Age of the defendant
- Defendant’s character
- Defendant’s educational background
- Defendant’s employment/financial status
- Defendant’s antecedents
- Family ties
- Community ties
The following are some mitigating circumstances surrounding the case:
- Defendant’s role
- Victim/Complainant’s role
- Defendant’s co-operation
- Defendant’s attitude/Expression of remorse
- Potential for rehabilitation
- Consequences of the crime committed