Jamaica News: Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is encouraging persons who are before the courts and know that they are guilty, to talk with their lawyers and enter guilty pleas.
Mr. Chuck, who was speaking at a digital town hall meeting, on April 24, to examine the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), on the justice sector, said in light of the crisis caused by the virus, which has limited the operations of the courts, it is critical that litigants utilise the plea bargaining system.
“Now is an opportunity to rethink your case, especially in the parish courts. Persons with minor offences, who know they are guilty, speak to your lawyer, with a view to come in and plead guilty,” the Minister urged.
Under the Criminal Justice Administration Act, a plea bargain can benefit the defendant, where one or more charges against him or her can be dropped, leading to less fines and sentences. Plea bargaining also assist in speedy trials, thus less burden on the Courts.
“This is an opportunity to close your case,” the Minister said, adding that litigants in civil matters should, along with their lawyers, enter discussion and mediation, and get a consent judgement.
“That would ease the burden when the courts re-open,” the Minister pointed out.
He said that where persons expedite and settle their matters through mediation and plea bargaining, when the “courts are fully opened,” their cases would have been cleared up, and they would not be part of the “long line” waiting for trials, or for mention and trials dates.
Under the law, an accused person cannot be forced, even by his or her attorney, to take a plea bargain. Where accused persons do not have legal counsel, but would like to negotiate a plea agreement, the Legal Aid Council can provide them with an attorney to provide advice.
Source: JIS News