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Who is a Juvenile Defendant?
In the year 2018, the Juvenile Justice Act was enacted in Guyana. By this act provisions were made to provide specific, new, alternative, restorative, and fair sentencing for juvenile defendants in the criminal justice system. To recap from our previous contributions, a juvenile is a child who is fourteen years and older, but less than eighteen years old. Therefore, a juvenile defendant is a child who is fourteen years and older, but less than eighteen years old, who is being charged for a criminal offence.
Can a juvenile defendant be convicted and imprisoned?
By the Juvenile Justice Act (2018), where a juvenile is found guilty of an offence the finding of guilt should not be recorded as a conviction. Further, no child or juvenile should be subject to imprisonment if found guilty of committing an offence. Nevertheless, the following are some alternative orders to imprisonment that can be made:
1. Reprimand the juvenile
2. Order the juvenile’s discharge
3. Require the juvenile to report to and be supervised by the Chief Probation Officer
4. Commit the juvenile to the care of a relative
5. Order the juvenile to pay a fine (if employed)
6. Order the juvenile’s parent to pay a fine
7. Order the juvenile to pay compensation for loss or damage suffered or injury sustained arising from the commission of the offence except general damages (if the juvenile is employed)
8. Order the juvenile to make restitution of any property obtained from the crime
9. Order the juvenile to perform supervised and reported community service
10. Probation for a specified period
11. Custody and Supervision Order to be served for a period in an open residential facility, then a half period under community supervision.
12. Make a deferred custody and supervision order subject to any conditions
13. Order that the juvenile complies with any reasonable and supplementary conditions
It should be noted that a sentence takes effect on the date which it is ordered, unless the Court states that the obligations under the order should be complied with on a later specified date. It should also be understood that in some cases a sentence ordered against the juvenile defendant continues after the juvenile becomes an adult. Furthermore, if the juvenile becomes an adult while serving a custodial sentence, he/she may be transferred to a correctional facility for adults
(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)